On 25 July 2019, Council declared a ‘climate and ecological emergency’. This recognises the continued priority the borough gives to addressing global climate change, including biodiversity and habitat losses, through strong local commitment and most importantly actions. We pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 across our own estate and operations.
Our Climate Change Strategy, Woking 2050, sets out a vision guiding our collective efforts to create a sustainable borough by reducing our impact on the environment and how as a council we can lead by example. However, in order to achieve carbon neutrality, we need to identify what actions can be accelerated to eliminate our contribution to climate change completely.
A climate emergency action plan (CEAP) was drafted and approved by the Climate Change Working Group at its meeting on 3 December 2019 and by Council on 13 February 2020.
The plan focuses on mitigation measures that will help reduce and eventually eliminate our carbon footprint. It will evolve and continue to be developed as more information is gathered about potential new projects and activities. The plan has been categorised in target areas of action:
- our assets (council corporate and leased) – energy and waste
- policy, leadership and behaviour changes
- sustainable development
- adaptation, ecology and habitats.
To date, the main plan includes 31 actions covering these themes.
At its meeting on 3 December 2019, the Climate Change Working Group agreed a set of priority actions within the CEAP for progression during 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021. These are summarised below:
- Adopt an emissions baseline for the Council’s estate and operations.
- Collaborative work with Thameswey to deliver on carbon reduction goals. For example, decarbonising the energy supply for all Council buildings and operations and eliminate emissions directly through the supply of renewable / sustainable power sources.
- Improve the energy performance of Council owned and leased properties – initially through an appraisal of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Display Energy Certificates (DECs).
- Large scale renewable energy plan to be drafted, detailing how wind energy could be funded across the Borough and how it could be complemented with solar energy.
- Avoid unnecessary travel to meetings where possible and develop a mandatory transport hierarchy as part of the Council’s Staff Transport Plan.
- Identify locations for the installation of electric bike charging points to further enable staff (and public) to select sustainable modes of transport and alternatives to the car, particularly for short journeys.
- Work with the Council’s car club provider to replace the existing petrol cars with electric vehicles.
Policy, leadership and behaviour changes
- Review Woking 2050 to incorporate the Council's pledge for carbon neutrality and emerging climate emergency action plan.
- Develop a staff and councillor communications campaign to promote and raise awareness of the pledge to become carbon neutral whilst encouraging positive behaviour changes that focus on messages around switching off equipment, avoiding single use plastics, etc.
- Develop an engaging staff communication programme to promote and raise awareness of what the Council is doing to address climate change across its estate and operations (and more broadly across the Borough).
- Further develop planning guidance to reflect the Council’s climate and ecological emergency declaration.
- Work with Planning Policy service to update local guidance to reflect how development can be adapted to encourage the adoption of low or zero carbon technologies. Develop planning guidance for developers and homeowners regarding the installation of technologies such as ground and air source heat pumps etc.
Progress against the priority actions is reported to the Climate Change Working Group.