ENVIRONMENTAL efforts have seen East Sussex County Council cut its carbon emissions by over 60 per cent since 2008 – equivalent to the annual energy use of more than 7,000 residents.

Whilst the achievement has helped the authority reach its ambitious 2020/21 target, work continues to become carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest.

The current data sets out the operational changes the council has made to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Carbon Highlight Report details the level of emissions from corporate and school buildings, the council’s fleet of vehicles, streetlighting and its server centre.

Cllr Nick Bennett, deputy leader and lead member for resources, said: “We have made some significant changes to our buildings and the way we work to more than halve our carbon emissions since 2008.

“Becoming a carbon neutral authority is not something that can happen overnight and, whilst we celebrate our efforts so far, we continue to be committed to the challenges ahead.”

Although work was already underway to reduce carbon emissions, the county council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and developed a Climate Emergency Action Plan which sets out how the authority will reach its target.

The replacement of windows at County Hall and a pro-active LED lighting programme have contributed to reductions in carbon emissions.  The council has also switched to a 100 per cent renewable electricity tariff for streetlights and council buildings to help support green electricity market growth.

Last year the county council’s corporate emissions fell by 1,672 tonnes, or 13 per cent, compared with 2019/20, in line with its target and science-based carbon budget.

This year, the county council has completed 14 low energy lighting projects on three of its sites and in 11 schools, started the first whole-building and heat decarbonisation scheme at Ninfield School and set up a programme of solar PV schemes on buildings.

The county council has already invested the £1million Salix Recycling Fund into improving energy efficiency and secured a further £480,000 of funding from the Government for the current financial year.

Cllr Bennett added: “We have a long way to go to reach our ultimate target but the results we have achieved so far show our commitment to getting there.  We will continue to work with all areas of our business and with partners to identify projects and funding that will support our efforts.”

More information on the county council’s climate change work can be found at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/priorities/whatawearedoing/

The Corporate Carbon Highlight Report for 2021/21 is available at https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/priorities/whatawearedoing/corporate-carbon-highlight-report-2020-21