Home Community and neighbourhoodsKnowsley Acts on Climate Energy saving scheme marks anniversary of Knowsley’s climate emergency
2 women and a man standing on roof with solar panels

Energy saving scheme marks anniversary of Knowsley’s climate emergency

by Cathy Sheel

New energy saving systems are being installed at Kirkby Leisure Centre in a flagship scheme that marks three years since Knowsley Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency.

Ten low-carbon Air Source Heat Pumps are replacing aging gas boilers and over 700 solar panels have been installed enabling the building to generate its own energy. LED lighting throughout will also help the leisure centre become more energy efficient – saving over 417 tonnes of CO2 and thousands on energy bills each year.

The works follow a successful bid for £3.15m from the Public Sector Decarbonisation fund and a £200,000 contribution from Knowsley Council.

Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Cllr Shelley Powell and Cabinet Member for Resources Cllr Jayne Aston were joined by council officers who worked on the scheme to view the installation of the solar panels and hear how this would not only reduce carbon emissions, but also the running costs of the leisure centre.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said “I’m delighted to see that we have made some great progress in reducing our carbon emissions since our declaration of a climate emergency three years ago. Schemes like this are vital if we are to achieve our ambitious target of reducing emissions from our own buildings and services to net zero by 2040.”

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources added: “Three years on and our commitment to combating climate change is more important than ever. Not only will the actions we are taking protect us from the impact of climate change, it will also save resources and cut the cost of providing much-needed services.”

What is the council doing?

In January 2020, Knowsley Council declared a Climate Emergency and committed that its own estates and services would become Net Carbon Zero by 2040. A commitment was also made to work with partner organisations to reduce boroughwide emissions.

Since 2009/10, the council has reduced its emissions by 69%.

Following the Climate Emergency Declaration, a Climate Emergency Action Plan was developed to deliver long terms actions and a Net Zero Delivery Plan was approved for 2022-2025. Here are just a few of the highlights of our action so far:

Reducing emissions from council buildings

Reducing carbon emissions by cutting down on gas and electricity use in council buildings has been a high priority for the programme.

The Council has successfully secured £4.2m of external grant funding from the government-funded Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). The funding has enabled improvement projects at the Courtyard Buildings at Court Hey Park, the River Alt Resource Centre and Huyton Library, replacing gas heating systems with Air Source Heat Pumps, the installation of roof mounted solar PV arrays and LED lighting.

The works are expected to produce an annual carbon saving of up to 440 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Further external 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.

Reducing flooding

Green space flood prevention projects have been developed to reduce surface water flooding in the borough, including a Sustainable Urban Drainage System at Court Hey Park, Huyton.

The drainage system not only directs water away from the green space, but it has also created a new wetland habitat in the park to support existing biodiversity. Similar works are underway at Northwood Forest Hills, Halewood Park Triangle and Stadt Moers.

Tree planting

Knowsley Council’s involvement in major tree planting schemes, such as the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and the Trees for Climate scheme, have brought almost 4,000 new trees and whips to 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. Thanks to the Queens Green Canopy project, the scheme will see around 6,500 native trees planted to create a community woodland mix of Oak, Cherry, Field Maple and Silver Birch trees.

 Street lighting replacement programme

The Council has approved a three-year street lighting replacement programme which will see 20,049 bulbs and signage replacement with LED alternatives.

By the end of 2022, 2,777 of these bulbs have been replaced with the programme expected to run to September 2025 and provide the Council with an estimated saving of 2,917 tonnes CO2 per annum. In 2021/22, 16% of the Council’s carbon emissions were attributed to street lighting.

Youth focus on climate change

Schoolchildren across Knowsley were inspired to learn more about climate change and their impact on the environment after visiting the ‘Gaia’ sculpture – a highlight of Knowsley’s Borough of Culture Celebrations,

Based at St Chad’s Church, ‘Gaia’, a 6-metre sculpture, was created from detailed NASA imagery of the earth’s surface and demonstrated the fragility of the planet, providing a unique opportunity to view our world.

Last year’s ‘Youth Summit’ held at Knowsley’s Leisure and Culture Park, hosted by TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham CBE and BBC journalist Ngunan Adam, saw primary and secondary pupils, as well as members of Knowsley’s Youth Parliament, explore topics including the environment, food production, the oceans and sustainability, human and animal welfare.

Sharing, reusing and recycling

Knowsley’s Sharing Santa Appeal, a partnership between the Council and the Explore Partnership, encouraged the recycling and reuse of half a ton of good quality toys – which were donated to local families in need over the festive period. The Knowsley community also donated a generous £3000 of new items to the project as well!

Environmental education offer

The council offers a range of education support and initiatives aimed at tackling the climate emergency to schools, community groups and businesses.
Free environmental education sessions and workshops for schools in the borough cover areas such as Eco-Schools, Green Tree Schools award, behaviour change programmes and waste minimisation programmes. More information of this Education Offer can be found here: Environmental Education & Sustainability | ASK Knowsley

On the road to cleaner vehicles

The Council is currently developing an Electric Vehicle/Alternative Fuel strategy that will outline how the borough will make the switch from combustion engine vehicles to either electric or hydrogen alternatives. The strategy is expected to be published this year.

For its own fleet vehicles, a fleet replacement programme is underway to remove polluting combustion engine vehicles from the fleet and bring in zero emission vehicles. Several electric vans have recently been purchased by the Council for use by the library and the park ranger services.