A clear way forward towards reaching South Lakeland’s carbon neutrality targets has been agreed by councillors.

South Lakeland District Council’s Cabinet has approved the authority’s Climate Change Action Plan – informed by public Climate Conversations.

The Action Plan was agreed by Full Council on the 30th of June with the council’s targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and supporting a county-wide target of 2037.

Councillor Dyan Jones, Portfolio Holder for Climate Emergency and Localism, said: “South Lakeland District Council takes the business of climate change seriously and sustainability underpins everything we seek to do.

“As a council, we declared our position back in 2019, recognising the emergency, committing to action and unanimously agreeing to make this a public commitment by informing, influencing and implementing in all areas under our direct control, where feasible and realistic.

“We intend, as a council, to work towards becoming carbon neutral and setting a target now provides further focus and leadership.

“These targets will not be easy. Nevertheless, although ambitious, it is crucial that this date sets a beacon or benchmark for others to note and hopefully follow in their own practices.”

Cllr Jones added: “We want to be a catalyst, to collaboratively support community engagement and on the ground action. To think globally and act locally without a draconian attitude, that forces change, it upholds the cause of what we can do together, sharing responsibilities and decisions to work together towards these targets – something we cannot do in isolation.

“I am looking forward to seeing this initiative grow, collaboratively, with sustainability and environment at the core of what we do with parishes and towns led by groups of like minded folks from across the district.”

In March last year, the council, along with all other Cumbrian authorities and the National Parks, adopted the Cumbria Public Health Strategy. The strategy includes a key aim of becoming a “carbon neutral” county and mitigating the likely impact of existing climate change.

A Climate Change Working Group, made up of all Cumbrian local authorities and National Park Authorities, representatives of the business community, environmental groups and statutory bodies, commissioned Smallworld Consulting, a Lancaster University-based consultancy led by climate change expert Mike Berners-Lee, to prepare a study identifying the county’s current carbon footprint and recommending appropriate targets.

Leader of South Lakeland District Council, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “We are facing a cataclysmic disaster if we don’t address climate change. This is an existential crisis. We in Cumbria can’t solve the problem ourselves but there are many ways we can contribute to the solution, show leadership and work with others to make a difference.

“This plan is ambitious but has achievable targets, and shows a clear way for us as an authority and the district as a whole to achieve carbon neutrality.”

Taking action

Measures in SLDC’s Climate Change Action Plan include:

SLDC operations –

  • Commission building-by-building reports on external and internal measures with recommendations
  • Assess the potential for minimising emissions and improving biodiversity on SLDC owned land and assets
  • Commission report(s) on enhancing biodiversity of SLDC land and parks
  • Review streetlights and potential energy-saving technology
  • Assess and implement measures to significantly reduce SLDC business travel emissions
  • Investigate potential for electric vehicle and bike use for employees on council business
  • Review procurement to optimise carbon-efficient operations in council contractors
  • Work with local partners to create an offsetting and biodiversity strategy for SLDC to offset irreducible emissions, including tree planting and biodiversity creation
  • Deliver climate change training for all council officers.

Collaboration with partners –

  • Review transport arrangements, improving travel, parking and roads in the district to move to a greener network
  • Install Electric Vehicle charge points and look in to discount parking rates for low emission vehicles.
  • Facilitate cycle hire provision, including electric bikes.
  • Support Businesses to become low carbon organisation. For example helping with green audits, hosting workshops and collaborate with companies on community energy groups
  • Help the tourism industry transition to be low carbon
  • Help residents to have more energy-efficient homes, including promoting schemes such as LEAP/ Cold to Cosy and offering grants.
  • Consult with communities and stakeholders on policy options for how new development can reduce carbon emissions.
  • Progress work on a local nature recovery and green infrastructure strategy.

Download Action Plan