In December 2018 Stroud Town Council made a resolution declaring a climate emergency and committed to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030.
We also made a commitment to seeking ways to facilitate and encourage our community in reducing direct and indirect CO2 emissions and to become resilient to changes caused by the changing climate.
We have created this page to share information about the steps we have taken or are progressing towards our climate change goals. We hope that the information provided will be useful to residents, businesses and organisations in our town, and potentially other councils who share our goals.
CLIMATE CHANGE RESOLUTION
In December 2018 the following resolution was approved at the full Council meeting of Stroud Town Council:
To facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions, the council resolved to:
- Commit to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030, to include scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions2. Create a carbon audit and roadmap for achieving this aim by the end of 2019.
- Create a grant pot to encourage and enable carbon-reduction schemes within Stroud. The primary criterion for applications to the fund should be CO2 savings per pound spent. This pot will be £10k for the 2019-20 financial year.
- Include environmental implications of recommendations in officer reports alongside legal, financial and equality implications. These will include the impact of recommendations on CO2 emissions as well as any other relevant environmental factors.
- Seek ways to facilitate and encourage our community in reducing direct and indirect CO2 emissions and to become resilient to changes caused by the changing climate. We will take active steps where possible to encourage:
- More sustainable transport
- Reductions in energy use in homes, businesses and elsewhere
- Co-operation with organisations seeking to develop low carbon and community-led affordable housing in Stroud
- Use and development of renewable energy sources
- Production, sale and consumption of locally sourced food
- Reduction in consumption of animal products
- Any other methods of achieving the aims above
You can read the full report that accompanied the resolution here.
The Council was already very active on a number of projects and already had a number of policies in place which directly address relevant issues, but this resolution has led to an increased focus on carbon-reduction across all of our work.
Back in 2016 we decided that the Green Spaces Manager did not always need to use a conventional vehicle, but Stroud is very hilly, so we decided to purchase a second-hand electric bicycle. We bought the ‘A2B’ bike from a local supplier, eCycle. The bike has been invaluable for visiting sites and attending meetings, with the added benefits of some cardio-vascular exercise and free parking. It has clocked up some 250 miles of fuel-free transport so far, half uphill and half downhill!
Cycle to Work Scheme
Also relating to cycling are some really useful ‘Cycle to Work’ schemes. These are schemes that incentivise employees to cycle to work. The employer signs up to a particular scheme – we chose www.cyclescheme.co.uk/ - and this enables the employer to purchase the bike (and some kit if needed) – with the employee paying this back in instalments through their salary typically over 12 months. The savings are due to the scheme operating as a 'salary sacrifice' employee benefit. This means that you agree to give up part of your salary in exchange for a benefit – in this instance the benefit is a bike and/or kit. The salary sacrifice is taken from your gross salary (before tax) which means that you will pay less Income Tax and National insurance.
Until recently the maximum purchase was £1,000 but the government rules have recently changed. The savings depend on how much tax the employee pays, but typically are between £250 and £390 on £1,000.
Three members of our team have so far taken advantage of the scheme, and are already reaping the health benefits as well as lower carbon emissions.
If you are interested in participating, check out the schemes online and encourage your employer to have a look too, as it may also help them with carbon-reduction targets.
Cleaner tools for a brighter future
In order to reduce our usage of fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel, we have been replacing power tools with cordless electric versions where this is possible.
To date we have bought the following cordless items:
- Hedge cutter
- 2 leaf blowers
- Vacuum cleaner (for glass and cigarette butts)
Whilst there are still some tasks that still need the oomph of a petrol strimmer, we expect the technology to move quickly, hopefully reducing the need for petrol-powered tools to a minimum in the very near future.
The batteries are expensive to purchase, but if you purchase tools from the same brand they are interchangeable, so once a number are purchased, the tools themselves are cheaper than the equivalent petrol version. Looking at whole-life costs it is likely to be considerably cheaper to run these than the equivalent petrol versions, because it is cheaper to charge the batteries compared with buying petrol. A quick look online will show the prices of the tools, batteries and their petrol‑powered equivalents.
Other benefits that come with cordless electric tools we have found include:
- Run on clean energy, produce no toxic fumes
- Generally lighter, reducing fatigue
- Lower vibration levels, so safer for the operator
Far quieter - a real bonus in public spaces.