Big plans to address climate emergency are underway in St Albans

Councillor Chris White, the Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Environment, helps w

Councillor Chris White, the Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Environment, helps with tree planting. Also pictured: Hugh McHarg (left) and Lawrence Lambourne. Picture: St Albans City and District Council - Credit: Archant

More than 100 actions are being taken towards making St Albans carbon neutral by the end of the decade.

The council’s initiatives are part of a sustainability strategy that has been developed over the past year.

Among the commitments, are the creation of more charging points for electric vehicles and improving the energy efficiency of council homes.

Energy audits of buildings such as Westminster Lodge and the Civic Centre will look at how consumption can be reduced.

From October the council will take energy supplies from a provider that guarantees only renewable sources will be used.

A £100,000 rewilding project with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust over the next two years will improve biodiversity including habitats for birds and habitats.

A full-time staff member is being recruited to monitor and deliver the strategy.

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The council agreed in a unanimous vote in July last year to declare a climate emergency and pledged to make the the district carbon neutral by 2030.

An update on the past year’s progress was given to a virtual meeting of the full council on Wednesday, September 30.

A cross-party working group was set up and has produced phase one of a sustainability strategy, covering the years 2020 to 2023.

This has addressed several key areas – reducing the energy use of buildings, encouraging greener transport, reducing waste, improving conditions for nature and conserving water.

Efforts are also being made to reduce waste and ensure construction projects are eco-friendly.

Plans include forming partnerships with businesses, schools and community groups to deliver campaigns as well as reviewing infrastructure.

Cllr Chris White, leader and portfolio holder for climate, environment and transport, said: “It is over a year now since the council created an important piece of local history by declaring a climate emergency.

“We have made that our number one priority and have also committed to making the district carbon neutral by 2030.

“This is a hugely ambitious goal as it means reducing harmful emissions by an average of 47,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

“That is the equivalent of turning off the gas to 16,000 homes every year.

“Residents want cleaner air, quieter streets, more trees and greater biodiversity and that’s what we are determined to deliver in the years ahead.”