Colchester Borough Council launches environmental sustainability strategy

Colchester Town Hall

Colchester Town Hall - Credit: Su Anderson

A strategy setting out Colchester Borough Council’s (CBC) environmental targets has been published by the authority – the first district-level council to do so in Essex.

The Environmental Sustainability Strategy pulls together a range of existing work, such as transport plans and flooding risk management, and new aims in a bid to make the town cleaner and more green.

However it does not replace policy required by law such as air quality management plans, nor does it set out specific detail as to how the targets will be met as this will come from future work.

Targets set by CBC include:

• Reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by 2020, and achieve an 80% reduction by 2050.

• Reduce mains water use at Shrub End recycling plant by end of 2017.

• Fit solar panels to all CBC homes where appropriate, resulting in 2,560 homes improved and made more energy efficient by September 2015.

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Much of the work is already being undertaken.

According to the Carbon Trust, in 2013/14 CBC achieved carbon savings of more than 3,000 tonnes per year, or 32%, since 2007, alongside energy cost savings over business as usual of about a third.

Tim Young, councillor for community safety, praised the work of Wendy Bixby, sustainability & projects officer, who has been working on the strategy for the past year.

He said: “We are quite proud of this, and we are at the leading edge.

“It goes right across the council, and we also want to set an example to the community that people and businesses can learn from.

“For example our fleet vehicles run on biofuel which gives 50% less emissions than diesel which is what they all were.

“We can’t do this on our own, but it is such an important issue and it is right at the top of our agenda. We hope others will follow.

“As finances continue to be reduced to local government we know this is the sort of thing we have to do because it is an economic saving as well.

“There has been a lot of carrot, for example around people recycling, but we might have to look at a bit more stick in the future too – fining people who don’t recycle.”

Tina Hinson, housing strategy manager, added: “A lot of things are more subtle than a strategy, it is about behaviour change.

“For example our zone wardens are showing older people how to use the internet to Skype their grandchildren. But following on from that they learn to transact with the council online, rather than having to make a trip into town.”