Dorset Council has published its first Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy Progress Report, which focusses on action we have taken towards achieving our carbon emission targets over the past year as well as highlighting some of the work underway to deliver the strategy.
In 2019, the newly formed Dorset Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE), acknowledging the Council needs to act on the causes and impacts of climate change and protect and enhance Dorset’s environment and wildlife.
We adopted the CEE Strategy and Action Plan in July 2021. Part of this strategy recognises the need to keep people informed about how we’re doing to reach our goals.
The report contains lots of important information, but some of the key headlines are: –
- In 2020/21, the Council’s carbon emissions reduced by around 17%, from 31,000 to 25,867 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). This is well in excess of the 8% year on year budget to reach carbon neutral by 2040.
- The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we travel. Business travel has reduced by 60% to 1,614,487 miles and we estimate staff commuted less than half as much in 2020/21, down to below 4 million miles a year. Together this has saved around 2,644 tCO2e
- Energy use in Dorset Council buildings has shown a 21% reduction between 2019/20 and 2020/21, resulting in a saving of 2,100 tCO2e
- In 2020 we secured an additional £4.8m to extend the Low Carbon Dorset programme to 2023. To date the programme has received over 500 applications for support and awarded 150 grants to support £5m worth of low carbon projects saving 5,600 tCO2e
- In 2019 Dorset and BCP local renewable energy sites generated 484 Giga Watt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity, equivalent to just under 4% of Dorset & BCP total energy demand. There is another 246MW (mostly solar) currently in the planning system that may be installed in the coming years
- Our Grounds teams, Ranger Teams and Arboriculture Teams are now all using battery powered frontline tools, powered by our own solar panels. Each year this should save approximately 8,000 litres of fuel, £10,000 in cost and 19 tCO2e
- As part of Dorset Council’s pollinator action plan, we are using methods to protect, conserve and enhance highway verges and other green spaces. This has included purchasing 2 more cut and collect machines, which will benefit an additional 350,000 m2 of highway verge and amenity spaces
- The Dorset AONB team have secured over £1.3million over 3 years for a ‘Farming and Protected Landscapes’ project. Which will provide funding to support projects to manage land for nature, climate, people and place
- In 2020/21 highways materials used reduced 30%, saving 1,305 tCO2e. We use between 10% and 30% Recycled Asphalt Planings (depending on works) and 6,126 tonnes (up from 2,668 tonnes the previous year) of our own recycled surfacing. This reduces our carbon footprint as lorries do not have to travel to source primary materials.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “I am pleased with the progress we are making and encourage all interested residents to visit the website, read the progress report and see what we are doing to reduce our carbon footprint and play our part in tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
“However, it’s important to note that Dorset Council only accounts for around 1% of the county’s carbon footprint and has limited impact on county-wide emissions. The latest government data shows that Dorset emissions have only reduced by 6% since 2017, against a 9% target.
“This demonstrates how much more work needs to be done if we as a county hope to reach net zero carbon emissions before it is too late. Only by working together – central government, councils, organisations, businesses and local communities – can we hope to secure a greener and cleaner Dorset for future generations.”