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Openness and collaboration to combat climate change

The agenda packs and minutes of the Council's recently formed Climate Change and Innovation Board (CCIB) are now available to the public.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves, explained: "We took the decision to publish these documents in response to requests from residents and the local media. We are grateful and proud to have people living in Guildford who are so passionate about our borough and planet. We all have a responsibility to 'do our bit' to protect our environment for future generations and the Council, while leading by example, cannot solve everything on its own. We must make informed decisions and balance the current and future needs of the borough, its residents, visitors and businesses, while we prioritise combating climate change."

She added: "The CCIB does not form part of the constitution of the Council and has no decision-making powers, so we would not usually publish these to the public. However, we understand people want to know more and we are happy to provide them."

Cllr Reeves said: "By working with partners from government, Surrey County Council, the Highways Agency, the Environmental Agency, and neighbouring district councils to the University of Surrey, Guildford Environmental Forum, Surrey Environmental Partnership, Surrey Wildlife Trust and many more, we will tackle and positively influence the causes and effects of climate change together. We need to think global and act local."

The Council has invested £8m over the past 13 years to protect the environment. In November councillors agreed to pledge £250k to deliver the Council's climate change objectives and energy management plans. Most of the sum (£217,000) will be match funded by Salix Finance, a company providing government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills. Measures include developing better CO2 emission analysis, generating income from Renewable Energy Feed-in tariffs (FITS) and Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) claims, promoting Passivhaus standards for new build homes, plus greener travel through the Easit network scheme.

Chair of the CCIB, Cllr Gordon Jackson explained the mission of the board: "We are developing an overall strategy for the reduction of carbon emissions within the Council and the borough. It will drive how we move forward and make our lives in Guildford more environmentally sustainable together. We have agreed our forward plan and areas of focus for the development of the strategy and each includes a fundamental element of public engagement, education and encouraging behavioural change."

He added: "Alongside the work of the main board, we will launch a dedicated public engagement group where residents, schools, colleges and groups of all ages can get involved. There will be more information on this soon. Initiatives such as #Do1Thing from The Surrey Advertiser are brilliant, and we will look to supporting this at a local level. We will also involve our thriving business community, from corporates to SMEs, through business forum sessions to work together on sustainability. We engage with our important rural and agriculture communities through the Business Forum Rural Group."

Other projects and services that the Council has initiated, provided or been involved in include:

Transport

  • Encouraging people out of their cars with new, safe pedestrian and cycle lanes that provide rapid, reliable routes into the town (known as the Sustainable Movement Corridor)
  • Reducing town centre congestion by introducing early bird rates to Farnham Road car park
  • Proposed £800k Electric Bike scheme investment
  • New station for Park Barn
  • Electric fleet of Park and Ride buses (largest outside London)

Energy

  • Public campaign to promote the introduction of renewable and low carbon energy in conjunction with partners Guildford Environmental Forum
  • £8m invested since 2007 on insulation, boiler replacements, LED lighting, air source heat pumps and solar PV panels
  • Solar panels provide two thirds of the electricity used at our new Guildford Crematorium - and heat from the cremation process itself is used to heat the Crematorium building
  • Develop Energy Management plan for the borough

Waste

  • 4,400 tonnes of food waste recycled every year (a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from food)
  • 201 tonnes of textiles recycled in 2019
  • 44 tonnes of small electrical equipment in 2019

Trees and green spaces

  • Working closely with rural communities to promote sustainable agriculture
  • Stop using pesticides and herbicides and encourage reduced mowing and hedgerow pruning

Water

  • Flood management strategy with Environment Agency
  • Guildford first town centre water refilling station installed

Procurement

  • Create and adopt a sustainable procurement policy
  • Green first policy to energy and food

Influence and education

  • Initiate and develop two forums - business and public - to work with residents and business communities to advise and help each other become more energy efficient in our day-to-day lives
  • Engage with Third Sector
  • Work with businesses and Experience Guildford (BID) to develop sustainability and emissions programmes
  • Promote local tourism and 'staycations'
  • TedX Guildford sustainability talk

Adrian Thomson represents the Guildford Environmental Forum on the CCIB. He confirmed it was committed to helping make the borough and beyond a more sustainable place by educating, cutting energy use, reducing ecological footprints, helping wildlife and tackling climate change. He said: "We are delighted to be working with the Council through the CCIB to help shape the future of Guildford, making it a greener town by informing and working with residents, businesses and visitors."

Professor Graham Miller, Executive Dean and Professor of Sustainability in Business at The University of Surrey has 20 years of experience in sustainability, including an expert advisor role to the World Economic Forum of Sustainability. He represents the University on the CCIB. He said: "I'm very pleased to be working with the Council to bring our expertise, energy and commitment to tackling climate change, and sustainability more broadly. We see increasingly that these issues are amongst the most important to our students and staff and we recognise our responsibility to act accordingly."

Published on Monday 27 January.