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East Herts formulates district-wide strategy for carbon reduction

Cllr Colin Woodward.Pic: Vikki Lince. (6050808)
Cllr Colin Woodward.Pic: Vikki Lince. (6050808)

More than a year of work by East Herts councillors looking at climate change has resulted in a comprehensive report on future carbon reduction in the district.

The group of six task and finish group members, including Bishop’s Stortford’s Cllr Colin Woodward, has met nine times to thrash out the strategy which will now be considered by the overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Woodward said: “Hopefully it will be seen as fairly comprehensive across the range of challenges we face as a district and within the wider context.”

Key recommendations include promoting joined up thinking and working with partners to establish a three-year scheme in East Herts providing energy efficiency advice and wider carbon reduction measures to local businesses and giving information on renewable energy technologies to residents.

That includes working with Hertfordshire Warmer Homes, to provide advice and practical assistance on energy efficiency to vulnerable householders and an anti-engine idling policy for drivers outside schools.

Within the council, the use of plastic will continue to be reduced while staff are encouraged to use sustainable transport options. The task and finish group is recommending that the council adopt the Government’s Clean Energy Strategy (2017) to reduce its carbon by 30% by 2021 from 2009’s baseline.

East Herts current target is 25% reduction by 2021 and current savings stand at 18.5% according to 2016/17 data. Members said the council should be procuring 100% “green” energy from corporate contracts.

Planning is a particular focus for the future and the group said the council should seek to encourage higher energy efficiency standards within new buildings to aid carbon reduction. So-called Section 106 cash paid by developers as part of planning permission should also be used for green projects. The group also wants the council to work with a developer to provide a low carbon show home in the district to raise awareness of options alongside insulation plans for older existing properties.

The creation of a network of charging points for electric vehicles and encouragement for bus companies to use lower carbon fuel and transition to electric vehicles are also on the group’s agenda along with more electric taxis and a partnership with Greater Anglia to add charging points and bike docks to train station facilities.

Water consumption in the district is one of highest in the UK at 169 litres per day per head and the group suggests a focus on reducing that total.

Members also advocate the creation of an East Herts awards scheme to encourage local organisations to go green and the foundation of an East Herts Environmental Forum. They also suggest funding to help coordinate the “excellent work being carried out by volunteers and local people power”.

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