We were recently named the most climate friendly council area in England and Wales, and have now announced we will invest more than £5m to tackle emissions from our own buildings, as we aim for the council and county to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Proposals were agreed by the council's Cabinet (8 October 2019), which will see us target 138 of our own buildings and aim to cut their carbon emissions by investing around £5.18m in phase one of a programme of work which will also help reduce the cost of running the buildings in the long-term this could see gross annual savings of around £500,000.
To achieve this, automatic controls for lighting, heating and cooling will be installed wherever possible. Standard energy reducing technologies will be also installed where feasible across the council's estate. This includes solutions such as upgrading to LED lighting or improving insulation.
We will also replace the remaining energy used within its buildings with energy generated from a renewable source as much as possible. Therefore, this programme will see the installation of solar panels at every site where there is a viable business case. In addition, it will look at installing other renewable energy generation technologies such as hydroelectric solutions and biomass boilers where appropriate.
Investigations will also be carried out into canopy-based solar panels, with Salisbury Park and Ride sites identified as a possible location to try them out. If introduced, this would create solar energy on the sites which could also supply electricity on a commercial basis to nearby third parties. A detailed business case will be drawn up on this.
Conservative Cllr Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: "What I hope is clear from all the work we are doing is just how seriously we are taking this issue. We are investing money, time and resources into doing all we can to tackle this global issue in Wiltshire.
"Looking closely at our own buildings and making them as efficient as possible is in our control and will have positive repercussions for the environment while making valuable long-term savings in the process it's a win-win."
Other work we are doing to reduce carbon emissions includes:
• Securing all the electricity on its corporate contract from a green tariff with effect from 1st April 2020 , which means that 100% of our electricity will be matched by the supplier with a certified renewable energy source
• Ensuring our response to climate change is enhanced within the Core Strategy the council's key planning and development document
• Drafting the fourth Local Transport Plan to reflect the target to reduce carbon emissions and develop policies to make further improvements
• Continuing to monitor air quality in Wiltshire through our updated Air Quality Strategy which will soon be formally reported to Full Council
• Ensuring the Household Waste Management Strategy continues to focus on reducing the carbon impact of its operations, for example in 2008/9 we landfilled more than 56% of its waste, by 2018/19 this figure was less than 16%
• Working with Swindon and Wiltshire Local Economic Partnership to engage with businesses and industry in Wiltshire to reduce carbon emissions
• Arranging a series of environmentally-themed area board meetings to take place later this year to engage with communities and local residents.
We recently topped the table of most climate-friendly councils following research by Friends of the Earth which looked at a range of issues relevant to climate change to assess how councils are performing.
More information can be found on the council's climate emergency page.