09/07/2024 - Permalink

Shropshire Council reports rise in carbon emissions but remains committed to net zero target

Related topics: Climate change / environment / Democracy

Shropshire Council has published its annual Corporate Carbon Performance Monitoring Report for 2022-23, which shows a 6% increase in its carbon emissions compared to the previous year. 

The council is one of the few local authorities in the country to report on its emissions and has set an ambitious target of achieving net zero by 2030. 

The report highlights the challenges and opportunities that the council faces in reducing its emissions and outlines the actions that it is taking to address them. 

The report, which will be considered by the council’s Cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday 17 July 2024, shows that the council’s carbon emissions for 2022-23 were 17,845 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, an increase of 1,011 tonnes (6%) from 2020-21. 

The main reasons for the increase were: 

  • A rise in electricity consumption due to increased demand for IT services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • A rise in gas consumption due to colder weather and more heating requirements for council buildings. 
  • A rise in fuel consumption due to more vehicle mileage for essential services, such as waste collection and social care. 
  • A rise in emissions from business travel due to more staff returning to work after lockdowns and restrictions. 

However, the council is making significant progress towards balancing carbon emissions and has successfully reduced them in some areas, such as: 

  • Installing solar panels on council buildings, generating 1,030 MWh of renewable electricity and saving 271 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 
  • Replacing streetlights with LED lamps, saving 1,016 MWh of electricity and 267 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 
  • Introducing electric vehicles and charging points in the council’s fleet, saving 42,000 litres of fuel and 111 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 
  • Implementing energy efficiency measures in council buildings, such as insulation, double glazing, and smart meters, saving 1,009 MWh of gas and electricity and 265 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 

Keen to lead the way, the council is also working on a number of ambitions projects which aim to accelerate its progress towards achieving net zero emissions.  

One of these is its investment in a pyrolysis plant as part of a joint venture with Woodtek Ltd, based at its Carbon Hill Farm in Powys. This agreement is the first of its kind for any council in the UK. Once up and running later this year, the plant will be used convert waste into energy and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. It will also be used to produce biochar, a wonder substance that can be used for many different purposes. 

A significant proportion of the council’s carbon emissions are produced by external contractors that it procures to deliver essential service such as social care. Shropshire is a large rural county and demand for social care is increasing, meaning more journeys and more miles to provide support and care for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents. 

In order to address this, the council is improving its procurement processes, to ensure that environmental and social factors are considered when buying goods and services.

However, that’s not all, the council is also developing a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, which will set out the council’s vision, objectives, and priorities for tackling climate change across the county.

Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for climate change, said: 

“We are proud to be one of the few councils in the country to report on our carbon emissions and to have set ourselves a challenging target of net zero by 2030. 

“We recognise that we have a lot of work to do to achieve this, especially in the light of the 6% increase in our emissions in 2022-23. However, we are not disheartened by this, as we know that many of the factors that contributed to this increase were beyond our control and related to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are confident that we have taken the right steps to reduce our emissions in the long term and that we have a clear plan of action to deliver on our net zero commitment. We are also determined to work with our partners and communities to make Shropshire a greener and more sustainable place for everyone.” 

For more information about the council’s climate change work, visit its climate action web pages here