Council on Course with Climate Change Targets

Posted by: Kaye Russell on 31 August 2023 17:00

The drive to fight climate change is making great strides in South Tyneside as a new report shows how the Council has achieved a 30 per cent cut in carbon emissions, achieving its first major milestone.

South Tyneside Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019, and pledged to take all necessary steps to become carbon neutral by 2030. It also launched its Climate Change strategy 'Sustainable South Tyneside', and associated five-year action plan, setting out how the Council aims to achieve its ambitions.

Councillor Ernest Gibson
Work on Hebburn Energy Network
Tree Planting in Hebburn's Campbell Park
Monkton Stadium's new 'green' gym
Electric vehicles

Members will receive a progress update on the Council's latest carbon cutting activities at the next meeting of Borough Council on Thursday 7 September.

This will include how the Council has achieved its first interim target of reducing carbon emissions by 25 per cent (5,710 tonnes) by March 2023 - from a baseline set in 2019 for 17,140 tonnes to be removed from Council operations and activities by 2030.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, said: "We made a firm commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 and set ourselves some ambitious targets to help us reach this goal. One of these was to see a 25 per cent drop in emissions this year and it's great to report that we are on track.

"Of course, there is much more work to be done. With our Sustainable South Tyneside strategy now embedded in everything we do, we continue to work hard to realise our shared vision for a cleaner, greener, low carbon and resilient future for our residents."

The report covers the period from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 and covers a wide range of measures and actions being taken as part of the Council's 'green' agenda.

Through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme the Council has implemented measures such as energy efficient ground- and air-source heat pumps, replacing gas fired boilers; LED lighting upgrades; roof mounted solar PV installations and building fabric improvements. It is anticipated that that over 420 tonnes of carbon will be saved each year.

Progress also continues on the Council's highly innovative renewable energy schemes which will provide sustainable heat sources for local public sector buildings and, once complete, will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 3,636 tonnes per year.

Ongoing work to replace thousands of old sodium streetlights with more energy efficient LEDs is already seeing significant reductions in electricity consumption, with a drop equivalent to 564 tonnes since 2019.

The Council also continues to expand on its fleet of 20 electric vehicles and has 59 operational charging units across the Borough. The Healthier Metros schemes involve improving links between Metro stations to create a safer, more secure environment and encourage more people to walk or cycle to public transport links.

Tree planting is an important part of the Council's approach to using nature-based solutions to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, with a commitment to plant 3,000 trees a year. In 2022/23, the Council planted 4,201 trees and continues to support the North East Community Forest. Latest figures show that South Tyneside's 'urban forest' stores an estimated 75,747 tonnes of carbon.

The implementation of coastal improvement projects plays a key role in adapting to climate change. Ongoing partnerships such as SeasScapes and Stronger Shores work to protect the marine environment while improving coastal and flood protection. The realignment of the Coast Road due to ongoing coastal erosion will extend the lifespan of the route by up to 50 years.

A new 'green' gym was launched over the summer as part of the £700,000 refurbishment of Monkton Stadium. The exercise machines capture energy generated from users and converts it into electricity.

The Council has also signed up to the UK100 pledge committing to do everything in its power and influence to rapidly reduce greenhouse gasses and work with residents and businesses to bring our wider communities' emissions in line with Net Zero as soon as possible.

It is also part of Net Zero North East England, a partnership formed to accelerate decarbonisation and to make sure that the journey results in economic opportunities, an improved natural environment and better standards of living for everyone in the region.

Councillor Gibson added: "We are delivering multiple initiatives that will help to bring about real change. These range from delivering pioneering energy schemes, investing in electric vehicles and planting thousands of trees to encouraging active travel and educating and empowering our school children to help minimise the catastrophic effects of climate change.

"It is an unprecedented challenge for our planet and we are committed to play our part and reduce our emissions wherever we can. If we do not act now, then the impact may be irreversible. We continue to bring forward schemes that will help us to reach our goal."

As part of its climate change declaration, the Council set a 50 per cent reduction in its carbon emissions by March 2025. To meet this target, a further reduction of 3,400 tonnes is required.

The meeting of Borough Council takes place on Thursday 7 September at 6pm, at South Shields Town Hall. It can also be viewed live via the Council's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/@southtynesidecouncil

Last modified: 31 August 2023 17:12