Ambitious 2035 climate change fight plan unveiled

Breckland Council Offices, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council Offices, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Could Breckland be carbon neutral in less than 15 years? 

That is the aim behind the District Council's new plans to tackle climate change. 

Breckland District Council, which declared a climate emergency in September 2019, has set out a series of initiatives that will be put to councillors at a meeting on Thursday. 

The council is being asked to release £525,000 to fund seven initiatives: 

  • £200,000 to reduce council-owned buildings impact on the environment 
  • £100,000 for a green grant scheme 
  • £100,000 towards tree planting and rewilding schemes 
  • £60,000 for electric vehicle charging points  
  • £50,000 to explore renewable energy options 
  • £10,000 for councillor and staff travel 
  • £5,000 to promote renewable energy  

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Speaking ahead of the meeting, Councillor Ian Sherwood, cabinet member for climate strategy, said: "The public understand and we appreciate that there is a real change in the climate and we have got to do something about it.” 

Mr Sherwood said the council had already had people contacting them suggesting uses for the grant funding. 

Conservative party agent, Ian Sherwood, says divisive issues within parish councils "happen too regu

Ian Sherwood, champion for Breckland's Sustainable Strategy - Credit: Archant

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If the proposal goes through on Thursday, Breckland will be the second district council in Norfolk to declare a zero-carbon date, after Norwich set a 2030 target. 

Mr Sherwood acknowledged reaching the target could be quicker through carbon offsetting - schemes that allow people to invest in environmental projects around the world to balance out their carbon footprint – but said they did not want to “buy” their way out. 

“Members of the council were very clear that we would try to avoid offsetting wherever we could,” he said. 

Adding: "To me, that's wasted money, if you're going to pay guilt money I would rather that money go into a real product or a real change - something that would have a real benefit.” 

The cabinet member said he hopes to get the public involved, for example by deciding where trees are planted and caring for them, giving the community ownership of the plans. 

File photo dated 05/06/07 of solar panels being installed as the number of solar panel installations

No plans have been included for energy generation through solar panels, but such ideas may come in the future - Credit: PA

An audit of the council found that 60pc of its carbon footprint comes from energy and water use in its buildings, 19pc in the vehicle fleet and 14pc in staff commuting.  

While no solar panels have been included in the plans, Mr Sherwood said that did not mean they would never come. 

"Yes, there is more to do solar and other energy-generating options are things that I think could come forward in the future but we've started where we've started.” 

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