Green Team launched as council marks COP26 East Hampshire

Friday, 7 October, 2022

East Hampshire District Council has marked the anniversary of its COP26 climate change event by launching a ‘Green Team’ to accelerate the council’s ambition to reach net zero.

COP26 East Hampshire, held in Alton last October, was run by East Hampshire District Council and Damian Hinds MP, and saw hundreds of residents and campaigners gather to plan what East Hampshire could do to reduce the impact of climate change.

It featured contributions from leading Government figures, including video messages from Lord Deben, the Chairman of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, and Alok Sharma, the President of COP26, as well as local resident groups, schools, environmental experts and businesses.

Since that time East Hampshire District Council has been driving forward plans to improve its own environmental performance and to help others do the same.

Chief among the new initiatives has been the launch of a Green Team to help the council, community and district be more sustainable.

EHDC officers spread through the organisation will make up the Green Team, ensuring that responsibility for the response to the climate emergency is distributed throughout all the major departments, including planning, community, facilities management, property and placemaking.

Alongside this, EHDC has also worked over the last 12 months to establish a range of major projects to cut carbon emissions and support local residents.

Some of the big ideas we have been working on over the last year include:

  • Launching our Green Team
  • Moving to a new carbon-cutting HQ
  • Helping households with energy-saving home improvements
  • Developing our greenest ever Local Plan
  • Announcing our own community farm

Cllr Robert Mocatta, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Prosperity, said: “The COP26 East Hampshire was a fantastic event that explored the creative ways we can improve our own environmental standards.

“As a council we must practice what we preach by setting a good example for others to follow and by helping our residents do what they can to limit their impact on the environment.

“In the 12 months since the event we have made huge strides and come forward with some really big ideas to make the difference.

“But we know there’s more to do and we must keep up the good work if we are to achieve the vital target of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Leader, said: “We place environmental issues at the centre of what we do at East Hampshire District Council.

“Our announcements today show the practical steps we are taking to drive up our own performance and help others improve theirs.

“Our new Green Team will put the environment at the heart of our day-to-day decisions and will embed climate change awareness into the core of the organisation. And our new, more sustainable building will massively cut our carbon emissions, improving our current building’s performance by 74 per cent.

“We are also helping residents to use less energy with Government-funded home improvements – cutting carbon emissions and saving them money.

“Add to that our greenest ever Local Plan, our new community farm and a host of other initiatives, this is a really exciting moment in the council’s journey to carbon neutrality.”

East Hampshire Damian Hinds MP, worked in partnership with EHDC in presenting COP26 East Hampshire. He said: “Across East Hampshire, from school children to business leaders, people know we how important is our shared endeavour to get carbon emissions down and help put our world back on a sustainable path.

“COP26 East Hampshire brought hundreds together to learn from each other, share best practice, and press government at all levels on what we wanted to see in policy.

“My thanks again to everyone who took part, but most especially to the three Action Groups – on Transport, Buildings, and Land Use & Agriculture – who we heard from at Alton and whose reports went into government.

“I commend EHDC on their continued commitment. It is good to see the Green Team coming to fruition, the emphasis for the Local Plan, and progress against the ambitious target on tree-planting.

“Residents and businesses locally are contributing in important ways, from agricultural innovation to energy efficiency. In the last year there has been a 75% increase in battery electric cars in East Hants.

“At a national level, there has been more progress over the last year, but as ever there is a lot more to do.

“The rapidity of de-carbonising electricity has been a great UK success story and that extended this year. Energy security – as well as cost – has come very much to the fore in 2022. That will mean some difficult choices in the next year or two. But it also highlights the value of renewables for domestic self-sufficiency.”

What’s been done since COP26?

Green Team

Launching this week, the Green Team will work to make the council, the community and the district greener and more sustainable. Council officers will consider the impacts on the environment of the work they do on a day-to-day basis, embedding climate considerations into the culture of the council. Climate change training is already being rolled out across the council on issues such as housing standards, renewable and low carbon technology, carbon offsetting and going net-zero.

A new HQ

EHDC’s new premises in Bedford Road, Petersfield, will reduce the council’s carbon footprint by 74 per cent. We already purchase renewable energy for our offices, but our office move will drive further reductions in our carbon footprint. The council intends to spend £500,000 to improve the building’s environmental performance. Solar PV and battery schemes will work alongside fabric first measures to improve the thermal performance. Staff will be encouraged to travel sustainably with green bike shelters and electric vehicle charging points.

Energy saving home improvements

In the last year, 256 homes have been supported through domestic retrofit schemes ECO3 and COSY. Energy efficient measures that have been installed in properties across East Hampshire include smart thermostats, loft and cavity wall insulation, new and replacement boilers, solar panels and replacement windows and doors. The amount of funding in the last year totals £765,000, with over £2.9 million being spent on 1,856 local homes since the schemes began, reducing their carbon emissions and cutting their fuel bills.

A new scheme has been launched, COSY East Hampshire, offering interest-free loans for energy-saving measures. To find out more go to www.easthants.gov.uk/cosy

Our greenest ever Local Plan

Our new Local Plan will be a ‘Greenprint’ for the district. It will aim for the highest possible standards in sustainable house-building, strive for zero-carbon homes and seek to protect and enhance local biodiversity. Energy efficient homes have a lower carbon footprint and are cheaper and more comfortable to live in.

Grow Up!

The council’s community farm will support ambitions to improve welfare, social cohesion and economic development and will have the environment at its core. Among other opportunities the project will look at growing projects, boosting biodiversity and reducing food waste.

The Green Loop

The Green Loop is an award-winning 7km network of paths around Whitehill & Bordon making it easy for pedestrians, runners and cyclists to get around town car-free. The interconnecting paths make it easy for residents to go from point to point without needing their vehicles, encouraging sustainable travel and reducing pollution and congestion.

Planting a tree for every resident

EHDC has pledged to see 120,000 trees planted in East Hampshire – one for every person in the district. So far, the council has secured commitments to plant more than 50,000 trees, from residents, developers and community groups. Among other environmental benefits, tree planting will help remove carbon from the atmosphere and improve biodiversity – increasing the amount and variety of local wildlife.

Let’s Talk

Following the success of the COP26 East Hampshire, a community event, titled Let’s Talk Green, is being planned in the new year. It will give residents and local organisations the opportunity to discuss environmental issues, celebrate successes and work towards our next targets.