Home Knowsley Acts on Climate Council makes progress on achieving Carbon Net Zero 2040

Council makes progress on achieving Carbon Net Zero 2040

by Guy Murphy

Knowsley Council’s Climate Emergency Scrutiny Committee was provided with an update on the progress and achievements of a number of projects launched following the Council’s climate emergency declaration.

In January 2020, a Climate Emergency was declared by the Council with a Carbon Net Zero 2040 target agreed. A Climate Emergency Action Plan was established that identifies the key areas for action and 10 key themes:

  1. Green spaces for carbon offsetting and climate resilience
  2. Reducing carbon emissions from street lighting
  3. Reducing carbon emissions from fleet vehicles, maintenance plant and equipment
  4. Reducing carbon emissions from energy and water use in Council buildings
  5. Reducing carbon emissions from waste from council services
  6. Reducing carbon emissions from staff travel on council business
  7. Sustainable energy generation
  8. Reducing carbon emissions through commissioning and procurement
  9. Reducing carbon emissions through communication and staff behaviour change
  10. Embedding carbon reduction and climate action across the Council’s plans, policies, and services

To ensure the Council achieves its aspirations of achieving carbon net-zero by 2040, the Climate Agenda has been embedded across the organisation a number of groups have been established to support the delivery of a number of projects. These include:

  • Knowsley Net-Zero Officer Group
  • Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Group
  • Carbon reduction and climate change Procurement Group
  • Waste Transformation Group
  • Circular Economy Group

A number of projects are already up and running across the Council with achievements already being made in some areas. The Council monitors its emissions utilising the data captured from the Green House Gas report. So far the Council has delivered a 69% reduction in emissions compared with 2009/2010 and has identified works to reduce emissions even further This includes:

Decarbonisation of Council owned buildings

The Council has successfully secured £4.2m of external grant funding secured through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), a government funded scheme to decarbonise public buildings. The grant funded decarbonisation programme has enabled gas heating systems to be replaced with Air Source Heat Pumps, the installation of roof mounted solar PV arrays and the installation of LED lighting. So far, works have been completed at the Courtyard Buildings at Court Hey Park, the River Alt Resource Centre and Huyton Library and works will shortly be commencing at Kirkby Leisure Centre and Nutgrove Villa.

The River Alt Resource Centre and the Huyton Library’s Solar PV was activated in March 2022 and are both regularly self-generating and consuming around 50% of the amount of energy the building needs. In addition, both systems are regularly exporting around 50% of energy produced back to the grid when the supply outstrips the demand which is an opportunity for revenue the Council is planning to explore.

Further external grant funding has also been secured to create a Heat Decarbonisation Plan for 19 Council Buildings. The plan identifies low-carbon heating alternatives as well as the suitability for Solar PV, LED lighting, wall insulation and window replacement with high level costs and carbon saving calculations.

Green Space and Habitat Works

A diverse range of green infrastructure projects have been delivered across the borough. This has included a significant tree planting programme with 3,935 trees and whips planted across the borough.

In addition, woodland restoration works have been undertaken and a new community woodland is being created at the Roby Field site in Huyton as part of a wider improvement project.

The Council is also maximising opportunities to ‘green up’ infrastructure schemes. An example of this is the Prescot-Cronton Cycleway and the programme of extensive habitat and landscaping works that is being delivered along the route.

Flood Mitigation Projects

A number of green space flood mitigation projects have been developed to reduce surface water flooding in the borough, including Northwood Forest Hills in Kirkby. The green space had historically suffered from poor drainage and the neighbouring properties were at risk of surface water run-off. A new Sustainable Urban Drainage System has now been installed as well as a connection into the surface water drainage system.

The Council has also completed a number of works to improve the pond area and wetland habitat at the site.

Street Lighting Replacement Programme

In 2020/21, 11% of the Council’s carbon emissions were attributed to street lighting. The Council has approved a three-year replacement programme which will see nearly 20,000 bulbs and signage replacement with LED alternatives. The works will commence is September 2022.

Partnership work to raise the profile of Climate Change

Knowsley Council has embedded Climate Change in events taking across the borough, working with partners to raise awareness of the importance of climate change with Knowsley residents.

As part of Knowsley’s Borough of Culture Celebrations, there was a display of ‘Gaia’, a 6-metre sculpture, created from detailed NASA imagery of the earth’s surface to demonstrate the fragility of the planet and provided a unique opportunity to view our world, at St Chads Church. Schools from across Knowsley were invited to visit the display and use Gaia as an inspiration for them to learn more about climate change, their carbon footprint and their impact on the environment

Another notable event on this agenda was the ‘Youth Summit’ held at the Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park, hosted by TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham CBE and BBC journalist Ngunan Adamu. During the two-day event, primary and secondary pupils, as well as members of Knowsley’s Youth Parliament explored topics including the environment, food production, the oceans and sustainability, human and animal welfare.

The Youth Cabinet, supported by Merseyside Youth Association, will be attending the upcoming Knowsley Flower Show event to engage visitors on ‘Fast Fashion’ and encourage a clothes swap. The annual flagship event for the borough held at Court Hey Park attracts in excess of 20,000 visitors from across the City Region and North West.

The Council is continuing to work on the programme of actions required to deliver the remaining reduction required to achieve net-zero.