Carbon Neutral Council

We believe in taking action against climate change

In May 2019, we committed to becoming carbon neutral as a council by 2025. We also pledged to raise awareness of the importance of taking action to combat climate change across the borough, working with others to consider and tackle their carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Our resolution to do this remains, however we now have to accept that achieving this by 2025 is impossible due to the financial landscape the council is in. 

The works that we committed to in 2019 are continuing but the target date for this to be achieved has been reset to 2027, which still remains one of the most ambitious targets in the country for carbon neutrality. 

In January 2022, we made a further pledge to make Cheshire East a carbon neutral borough by 2045 - this pledge remains unaffected. 

Watch our film explaining more about the projects underway to help us reach our carbon neutral target.

We have also developed an animated video, which explains more about how we are working together to combat climate change across the borough.

Our ambition to be a carbon neutral council by 2027

Our carbon neutral by 2025 target was based on an assessment of the council’s carbon emissions during 2018-19. This covered the carbon emissions that the council has direct control over, which are emissions from:

  • Streetlighting
  • Gas and electric from council-owned buildings
  • Council business travel
  • Council fleet vehicles
  • Water and waste from council buildings

The carbon footprint of the council in 2018-19, based on the emissions outlined above, was just under 15,500 tonnes of CO.

How Cheshire East Council aims to become carbon neutral by 2027

Our Carbon Neutral Action Plan (PDF, 2.5MB) approved by the council in May 2020 set out the actions we needed to consider taking in support of our initial carbon neutral by 2027 target.

We have many projects underway to tackle and reduce our carbon emissions across the areas that we have direct control over.

carbon neutral by 2027

 

Diagram outlines the baseline of council carbon emissions in 2019, and how the projects underway across each area will reduce or offset carbon emissions. By 2027, these projects aim to make Cheshire East Council carbon neutral.

How we are reducing our carbon emissions

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We have replaced 39,000 streetlights with energy efficient Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), powered by green electricity

Road signs are also being replaced with LEDs .                  

This work will save 381 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Funding from the government’s public sector decarbonisation scheme has enabled us to install carbon-reduction measures in buildings across the borough.

13 of our buildings, including libraries, leisure centres, and day centres now have solar panels, with a generating capacity of 1MW, producing up to 850,000 kWh per year of renewable energy.

Low carbon heat pumps at Macclesfield Town Hall and indoor market and also at Wilmslow Library are reducing the need for fossil fuels to heat these buildings.

A district heat network in Crewe will provide renewable energy to the Lifestyle Centre.

We are encouraging public transport, walking and cycling and gradually replacing pool cars with electric models for staff to use. Digital and remote working, where appropriate, is minimising the need for business travel.

Work on increasing green travel for our staff includes sharing best practice with, and learning from, partners across Cheshire East, including the NHS.

Our council fleet of vehicles includes those used by community wardens, highways and Ansa Environmental Services, with work underway to gradually replace vehicles with electric models. Our highways service now uses six electric vans, with more on the way.

We are trialling the use of hydrogen to help fuel two of our refuse collection vehicles (RCVs). The hydrogen is produced on site at our environmental hub in Middlewich, where electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs is used to electrolyse collected rain water.

The converted  RCVs will save 8,500 litres of diesel.

In a year, this saves 10 tonnes of CO2 per vehicle – that’s 61,000 miles in a typical car, helping to bring cleaner, greener air to the borough.

We have replaced toilets across our buildings with greener models that use less energy and water per flush.

 

The projects outlined above aim to halve our carbon emissions by 2027. The remaining emissions will be offset within the borough through initiatives including:

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Council buildings are now supplied by low-carbon green electricity – which supports investment in clean, renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydro.

Working in partnership with The Mersey Forest and Cheshire Wildlife Trust, with support from Ansa Environmental Services, trees are being planted in parks, green spaces and schools across the borough.

We know that we can’t eliminate our carbon emissions completely by 2025. Planting 100 hectares of trees by that time will help to offset those carbon emissions – and make us a carbon neutral council. That’s the equivalent of 140 football pitches.

Volunteers from the Green Task Force, a charity that uses nature-based therapy to help veterans struggling with their mental health into work, helped to plant a seven hectare site at Leighton Grange, Crewe – our largest single-site tree planting scheme to date.

We are working on a large-scale solar farm at Leighton Grange, Crewe, where our household and garden waste is recycled.

The 5MW solar farm will provide energy to the recycling plant, with some also going back into the National Grid – helping us to achieve up to 15% of our offsetting target.

We’re also investigating the potential for heat networks, which will provide a more efficient and reduced carbon solution for heating public buildings.

Influencing behaviour change

We are focusing on internal policies, culture and behaviour to ensure that carbon emissions are understood by all. This includes empowering our staff, through training and other engagement activities, to think about and reduce their emissions, and ensuring that carbon considerations are included as part of the business planning and procurement process.

Working with suppliers

As a council, we want to make a positive impact on people and places in Cheshire East. We call this impact social value. Our social value webpage has more details of how we are working with suppliers to support environmental sustainability and carbon reduction through our procurement process.

Detailed progress report

Carbon Neutral Committee report - February 2024 (PDF, 1.4MB)

Crowdfunding for community environmental projects

 #CheshireEastCrowd is a crowdfunding initiative to encourage, support and create community projects that will make a difference.

No idea is too big, or too small. It could be a way to combat climate change, or a quick win that will reduce local carbon emissions – whatever sparks your imagination.

Sign up for our climate change in Cheshire East newsletter

For regular updates on how we are working together to reduce carbon, sign up for our climate change email newsletter.

Support for town and parish councils

We know that our actions alone won’t make Cheshire East a carbon neutral borough. We must work collectively to take positive steps to reduce our carbon footprint.

We have developed a Climate emergency toolkit (PDF, 2MB) to support town and parish councils across Cheshire East to consider their role in achieving targets, delivering change and accelerating their own carbon neutral transition.

It can be difficult to know where to start with the scale of change that is required to have a real impact on the climate emergency. We have created an online climate hub, to support and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing between town and parish councils, where members can share resources and ask questions.

Complete our online form to request access to the Sustainability Hub, and we will be in touch with you to confirm access details. The form will take 5 minutes to complete.

If you have access to the hub  already please check the latest updates. 

The target of becoming carbon neutral is not just something that we are encouraging town and parish councils to engage with. When it was set up in November 2020, the Cheshire and Warrington Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission ensured that we were working pro-actively to reach our targets sub-regionally.

The commission has four central themes: inclusive economy, sustainable transport, sustainable land use and net zero and has set a series of recommended actions to achieve this.

If you have any questions about the work we are doing to become carbon neutral, contact us at: carbonneutral@cheshireeast.gov.uk.

Page last reviewed: 04 March 2024