In 2018 South Cambs residents put their trust in the Liberal Democrats. Since then, South Cambs District Council has run with a policy of actions not words when it comes to tackling climate change across our area, and we've made being Green to our Core a major priority for everything the council does.
We are investing £6.8 Million in tackling climate change, but many residents want to knows what that means for them and for their area, so here is a summary of some of the top steps we've taken towards tackling climate change since we've been running the council.
Pictured: Liberal Democrats in local government, including South Cambs Councillors Pippa Heylings and Bridget Smith, attend the COP26 Climate Summit.
What actions have Liberal Democrats taken on climate change?
- We declared climate and ecological emergencies in 2019 and are responding to the immediacy of these crises in changes to how we deliver services that benefit residents, businesses, and Parish Councils.
- We adopted our first Zero Carbon Strategy in May 2020, making clear the need to halve net carbon emissions in the district by at least 2030 if not before.
- In February 2021 we created our 'Doubling Nature' strategy, committing to increase wildlife-rich habitats, tree canopy, and access to green spaces in South Cambridgeshire.
- Our Climate and Environment Advisory Committee is chaired by Pippa Heylings, who is also a Board Member on the Local Nature Partnership, as well as the Lead on the LGA’s national cross-party Climate Change Task Group. This group puts climate change at the top of the national agenda for all councils in England and Wales.
- Pippa is also candidate to be South Cambs' next MP, campaigning to take the fight to the government directly on a host of environmental issues.
- Council Leader Bridget Smith is Climate Lead for the Council and holds the role of Environment and Climate Lead at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which set up an Independent Commission on Climate.
- We have made advances as a Council, making big changes to future plans for providing homes for local people focussing on the right homes in the rights places in our next Local Plan, putting climate and biodiversity at the forefront, protecting the rural character of our villages whilst ensuring that future residents will enjoy lovely places and homes that are affordable to live in.
- We have commissioned ground-breaking studies that have guided the Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals which will require higher standards than current government regulations: all new homes and non-residential buildings to be warm, energy-efficient, Net Zero for the energy used, close to green areas, with location and design to promote sustainable travel.
- We have a rolling plan to keep our tenants warm and lower their energy bills by making our existing Council houses Net Zero.
- SCDC's partnership with the Net Zero Collective, involves a project to monitor the effectiveness of energy efficiency improvements in our council houses and to help train local retrofitting companies.
- Our project to upgrade 1,800 streetlights across South Cambridgeshire is almost complete. We are replacing existing bulbs with low energy ones to reduce light pollution, improve lighting and cut energy bills.
- We hit the news with one of the country's first electric bin lorries and two more have been ordered which will be in service within the next few months. We have also made several electric vans available for use by council colleagues working out in the district. Our waste fleet is the highest contributor to carbon pollution for the Council (70%) and we have a clear pathway worked out to get this to zero. We have just been awarded £4.2 million to ensure that the e-vans run on clean, green energy from the solar farm we are developing beside the waste depot.
- Following on from the success of our Three Free Trees scheme in 2020, in 2021 we offered Six Free Trees to every Parish Council that signs up. In 2020, 54 parishes accepted three trees; that's 162 trees planted. In 2021, a further 227 trees were planted around the district.
- Since launching in 2019, £310,000 has been allocated to 51 different community groups through our Zero Carbon Communities Grant. Projects support communities with cycling, tree planting, energy efficient lighting, food production, distribution, and waste reduction.
And don't just take it from us - even the BBC have picked up on the scale and scope of our plans to tackle the climate emergency!