Willingham Parish Council Climate Change and Sustainability Statement
At its meeting on 6 May 2020 Willingham Parish Council (WPC) adopted the following statement:
“Willingham Parish Council fully supports the urgent need to tackle the issues surrounding global warming and its impact on climate change. Within its limited resources the Council will do what it can to assist in the aim of ensuring the long-term sustainability of our environment.”
Back in 2008 the Climate Change Act established a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels. Over the past year or so the dramatic effect of these emissions on our climate has become widely recognised as a very urgent problem and tackling it has moved higher up the agenda. In addition to greenhouse gas reduction, the sustainability of our environment also involves issues such as biodiversity, pollution and plastic waste.
Fundamental change requires international and national commitments, but local authorities also have an important part to play. WPC will continue to engage fully with CCC and SCDC, both of which have declared climate emergencies and are working on policies and strategies towards net zero carbon. WPC was represented at the recent SCDC Zero Carbon Communities workshop aimed at helping and supporting local communities such as ours.
The Council have two Councillors who are acting as their point of contact for climate change, environment and sustainability matters and they will help facilitate any initiatives within the Council’s remit on these matters. They can be contacted via the details below:
Linda King – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie McKee – email@example.com
Willingham’s Carbon Footprint
At all levels of government there is much discussion about climate change and in particular about reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide, often shortened to carbon, is the most well-known greenhouse gas and largest contributor to climate change, but other greenhouse gases are nitrous oxide, methane and ozone, and these are often included under the term ‘carbon’.
The first step in any reduction is measuring exactly which activities produce carbon and how much, known as a carbon footprint, and a tool has recently been produced by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, together with Exeter University, that shows the carbon footprint at parish level. It can be found at https://impact-tool.org.uk/
The site consists of pie-charts showing two ways of measuring the footprint: (i) territorial – carbon that is produced directly from within our parish (e.g., industrial, commercial, domestic, agriculture, transport), or (ii) consumption – including all emissions from our consumption of manufactured goods, food, and transport activity, etc., regardless of where the emissions occur. Territorial is in general compiled by taking national data and cutting it down, while consumption is largely based on household and address-level data. In addition to the charts, the actual data can also be downloaded. It is hoped for the future that funding can be secured to allow the information to be updated.
There is also the option to compare our footprint with other parishes, or district or national averages. The website contains much useful background information regarding the data sources used, assumptions, and methodology for arriving at the numbers.
Though this is ‘broad-brush’ information, being non-interactive and only covering main impact areas, it is a useful starting point to look at ways of reducing the Willingham carbon footprint. While there are many measures being discussed at International, Central Government, County and District level, such as the SCDC Zero Carbon Communities initiative, there is much that we as a parish and as individuals can do. According to the UK Committee on Climate Change 2019 report, 62% of carbon savings we need to make now will need behavioural change to drive them, in whole or in part. Small changes in behaviour add up. As consumers we can create a demand for low or zero carbon alternatives that will send a signal to the market and companies will respond. And just reducing waste will have an effect.
The ‘Using the tool’ document on the website is particularly useful regarding next steps, and has a list of resources. We as a Parish Council will be looking at ways of reducing our own footprint (we have already secured a grant for changing the heating in the Ploughman Hall to a low-energy system, installed LEDs and use a green energy provider), and would like to encourage individual residents and families to do the same. There are many tools available to measure your footprint at household level such as https://cambridgecarbonfootprint.org/, carbonfootprint.com – Carbon Footprint Calculator and one from the WWF. These are much more detailed than the parish level one described here.
Willingham Action Group has also recently created a Sustainability sub-group which consists of a small number of passionate individuals looking at ways to improve the sustainability of the village.
We hope that this will be a two-way process so please let us know your thoughts on these issues and how we can work together to reduce the Willingham carbon footprint.
More about the Willingham footprint
“So, as the aphorism goes ‘All models are wrong, but some are useful’. We have tried hard to make these ones useful for you, but use them as a guide, not as a gospel.”
Having searched on ‘Willingham’ the charts show either a total for the parish or per household. Each category can be split into subcategories. Clicking on each segment gives brief info on what it is and how calculated.
Consumption – The largest sector is consumption of goods and services – 33% (18% purchase, 8% use of services, 7% other), followed by travel 26% (14% private transport, 9% flights, 3% public transport), food and diet 21% (11% meat and fish, 10% other), housing 19% (energy in homes – 13% gas, 5% electric, <1% oil), waste 1%
Territorial – Now housing (energy in homes) is the largest (40%), followed by 20% agriculture (14% livestock & crop-related, 4% fuel), 17% road transport, 14% aviation and 6% shipping (not helpful these are just national figure divided by population – ‘included to provide context’). Industrial and commercial are shown as zero which is not quite correct?
The differences between the two approaches are very clearly shown by a comparison with Swavesey – consumption is almost the same per household, but territorial is very different – Swavesey has a much larger road transport and industrial and commercial footprints, the former presumably due to the A14 about which they can do nothing.
Potential future actions include:
- Solar panels
- Grants to local organisations who are reducing carbon (green projects)
- Survey PC land and develop a 5-year plan to improve biodiversity and ecology by growing wildflowers etc, adding to work already done in the Orchard and Meadow Road
- Community workshops to learn about green spaces and how to protect them
- A water fountain at the pavilion to remove single use plastic bottles
- Aim to go ‘single use plastic free’ as a Council and create a hirer’s charter reflecting this.
- Publicise what we are doing on our website
Ploughman Hall Heating: The Council is continuing to seek funding to improve the heating in the Ploughman Hall so that it is much more efficient.
Planning: The planning committee takes the environmental aspects of new planning applications very seriously, within the constraints imposed by SCDC.
Though WPC has limited powers it can make a difference. The following are examples of recent actions:
Meadow Road site: Fifty oak trees have been planted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day and poppy seeds sown. It is hoped that additional Silver Birch trees will also be planted on the site.
Community Orchard: WPC liaised closely with and supported the Willingham Action Group (WAG) in establishing the community orchard in 2015, planting more than 850 trees.
Street Lighting: The Council has taken over the provision and payment of electricity for the streetlights SCDC is responsible for in the village (the majority are under the remit of CCC). The supplier that the Council has chosen is a provider of renewable energy. It is also anticipated that over the next two years the lights will be changed to LED.
Lights in the Ploughman Hall: The Council has had the hall lights converted to LED.
Floodlights on the Rec: These have also been converted to LED.