Parish Support

Thank you to everyone who attended our parish and town council webinar.  Our apologies again that we didn’t have a written agenda.  The aim was to answer such questions as ‘How does recognising the climate emergency at the parish level make a difference?’ and ‘What are the steps that a parish council should take to declare a climate emergency and what happens next?’  It is important to remember that each parish is different with a different set of issues to contend with and so there isn’t always a one size fits all type of answer.  However, we hope this webinar provided a starting point and perhaps even raised further questions.  

The video link for the webinar is HERE

Thank you to Melissa from Glastonbury Town Council for your presentation on Glastonbury’s climate actions and how you have gone about them.  The slides from the presentation can be found here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yVJs9mbzrxvue_NSV-7QeIb6gkGQe8bA/view?usp=sharing

and here’s the link to their website, which provides more detail, and links to download the full report on GTC’s approach. https://glastonbury.gov.uk/council/committees/glastonbury-climate-emergency-resilience/ 

Below is a brief compilation of resources that we hope you will find useful.  As always, Somerset Climate Action Network are here to answer any questions we can and provide support to both communities, businesses and local authorities alike in your journey to a greener future.  To receive our newsletter with information about climate action all across Somerset, as well as invitations to future events, please sign up here:

For previous webinars please see here

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClfYMwKBP-_isbjG_BuPdLQ

Climate & Ecological Emergency resolution – example from Milborne Port

This council recognises that we are in a climate and ecological emergency that requires urgent action at all levels of government, including Parish Councils.

The council commits to tackling climate change and promoting climate repair across all of its activities, including procurement, utilisation of grant funding, planning, and management of buildings and open spaces. It commits to using its powers to promote sustainable and net-carbon neutral development, to preserving and increasing biodiversity, to reducing car use, and encouraging walking, cycling and public transport. It commits to ensuring that the land it manages is maintained in a way that maximises carbon capture and biodiversity, and prevents species extinction.

The council commits to community engagement, and to supporting efforts to convene a climate emergency group, which with wide representation, including councillors, residents, young citizens and other stakeholders, will assist in helping the council reach its goals for carbon neutrality across the full range of its activities.

Basic information 

• Friends of the Earth – 20 things you can do (see end of document) www.policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/reports/20-actions-parish-and-towncouncils-can-take-climate-and-nature-emergency

• How to declare a climate emergency  www.climateemergency.uk

• Zero Carbon Britain  www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/researchreports/zero-carbon-britain-rising-to-the-climate-emergency  

• Adapting to climate change: a guide for local councils www.assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218798/adapt-localcouncilguide.pdf

• Local councils’ powers to address or reduce climate change: existing powers and future opportunities www.nalc.gov.uk/library/our-work/climate-change/3341-climate-changelc-powers-sept-20

• The Good The Bad and The Leading Lights  www.nalc.gov.uk/library/our-work/climate-change/3312-the-good-thebad-and-the-leading-lights

• Centre for Public Scrutiny: 10 questions to ask if you are scrutinising climate change www.assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa ds/attachment_data/file/218798/adapt-localcouncilguide.pdf

https://takeclimateaction.uk/resources

Climate action plans

 • Climate emergency UK https://www.climateemergency.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/V8Checklist-for-Council-Plans-21072021-new.docx.pdf

  • Frome Parish Council  www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/your-community/sustainability-andresilience/climate-emergency/fromes-climate-emergency-strategy

Design greener housing 

• Local Plans and the Climate Emergency www.campaigncc.org/node/1908)

• How do we use Neighbourhood Planning to fight climate change?  www.sharedassets.org.uk/landexplorer/how-do-we-use-neighbourhoodplanning-to-fight-climate-change

 • Neighbourhood planning in a climate emergency www.cse.org.uk/news/view/2430

Energy

• ACRE on community renewable energy projects www.acre.org.uk/news/2013-07-11-new-renewable-energy-guide-forcommunities

• Renewable energy companies www.consciouscreatives.co.uk/environment/top-5-renewable-energycompanies

• Local councils can now win funding to develop renewable projects www.carbonsmart.co.uk/supporting-parish-councils-to-win-funding-anddevelop-renewable-projects

• Salix interest-free funding for energy efficiency projects www.salixfinance.co.uk/P3_PSDS

Electric charging points 

• Grant schemes for electric charging points  www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-lowemission-vehicles

Green travel 

• Green transport (www.visitengland.com/plan-your-visit/sustainabletravel/green-transport)  

• Cycle to work scheme www.cyclescheme.co.uk

Flooding 

• The Flood Hub www.thefloodhub.co.uk/am-i-at-risk   

• Environmental Agency www.gov.uk/check-flooding 

• Local Government Association www.local.gov.uk/topics/severe-weather/flooding/flood-and-coastalerosion-risk-management/flood-risk-and-flood-risk

Plastic reduction 

• How to go plastic free www.friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/living-withoutplastic

Trees and biodiversity 

• Tree packs – Woodland Trust www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/planttrees/schools-and-communities    • Rewilding www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/start-rewilding   

• The Wildlife Trust Biodiversity net gain briefing www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/201902/Net%20gain%20final%20briefing%20for%20Wildlife%20Trusts.pdf 

• Biodiversity offsetting and net gain www.friendsoftheearth.uk/nature/biodiversity-offsetting-and-net-gainlicence-trash-nature

• Plantlife- Road Verge Campaign plantlife.lovewildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign

• Responding to the Climate Emergency with New Trees and Woodlands www.nalc.gov.uk/library/our-work/climate-change/3433-responding-tothe-climate-emergency-with-new-trees-and-woodlands  

A list of local councils in Somerset who have already declared/ recognised the climate & ecological emergency:

Axbridge

Bishops Lidyeard & Cothelstone

Bruton

Carhampton

Castle Cary

Cheddar

Compton Bishop & Cross

Cothlestone

Frome

Glastonbury

Hatch Beauchamp

Ilminster

Keinton Mandeville

Kingsdon

Kingweston

Langford Budville

Langport

Milborne Port

North Petherton

Norton St Philip

Rode

Shepton Mallet

South Petherton

Timberscombe

Trudoxhill

Trull

Wedmore

West Monkton

Meeting chat:

19:41:31 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Some info on Climate Emergency UK and check lists for climate action plans see https://www.climateemergency.uk/local-authority-checklist 

19:41:45 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

www.climateemergency.uk 

19:46:36 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Good local info here from Adapting the Levels – https://www.adaptingthelevels.com 

19:46:41 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

And not just for the levels

19:47:28 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Carbon footprint of your parish data https://impact-tool.org.uk 

19:48:27 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Carbon accounting tool for local councils https://localpartnerships.org.uk/greenhouse-gas-accounting-tool 

19:49:12 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Somerset Climate Action Network https://somersetcan.org.uk/the-network/

19:49:16 From  Martine Naughton  to  Everyone:

How to bridge the gap or bring together the elderly and young. I find the more senior members of our Parish blame the young for so many things – litter, pollution etc but we’ve been in this position for some years. How do we bring people together?

19:49:41 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Good info here for tackling the ecological emergency from Somerset Wildlife Trust, https://www.somersetwildlife.org/team-wilder/wilder-communities 

19:52:26 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Local councils can win funding for developing renewable projects  www.carbonsmart.co.uk/supporting-parish-councils-to-win-funding-and-develop-renewable-projects 

19:52:26 From  david stripp  to  Everyone:

Do we know of any examples of Neighbourhood Plans that have included sustainability? We’re just starting the NP process in Kingston St Mary

19:54:57 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

A big question David. It was all stripped out of our NP in Wedmore. Which we anticipated and didn’t bother engaging with the process. It all depends where you want to put that uber precious volunteer resource.

19:56:11 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Some people have a different view of NP’s but IMHO it wasn’t designed for the climate emergency. Sadly.

19:56:18 From  Timothy Eggins  to  Everyone:

Question. Could you give some bullet points for Councils who have their own land, buildings etc and also some bullet points for smaller councils who have no land, vehicles or buildings.

19:57:07 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

I find a well written Green Charter for a parish is the best way to approach that. Loads of examples of this in Somerset

19:59:04 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

19:59:11 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Langport Town Council’s Green Charter https://langport.life/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Green-Charter-Sept-2021-1.pdf 

20:00:50 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Some useful information on the South Somerset Environment Website including the Parish Environment Champion Network https://www.southsomersetenvironment.co.uk/get-involved 

20:02:09 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Here you go Danielle https://somersetcan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Report-on-public-consultation-130320.pdf 

20:03:17 From  Mo Fletcher  to  Everyone:

Mo Fletcher

Levels Climate Forum

fletcher080@btinternet.com 

20:09:48 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

e.g. Reducing local demand in Somerset can be achieved through helping households to insulate better, and creating safe infrastructure that will allow and encourage people to walk/ cycle more etc etc

20:13:29 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

We ran a webinar recently on insulating older houses which may be helpful.  The recording and notes are on our website and youtube channel.  I’ll share links with the recording and notes of this webinar.

20:19:19 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

The best work I have ever seen on how we can de-carbonise is from CAT – https://cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/research-reports/zero-carbon-britain-rising-to-the-climate-emergency 

20:22:31 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Basic message from CAT ZCB, we have all the technology we need already, it is a challenge of policy, funding, etc. And also a huge opportunity for us all, Green New Deal etc

20:30:07 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

Important distinction thanks for raising this Tim

20:31:47 From  Julia Morris  to  Everyone:

Will you be able to send a copy of the chat ?

20:33:00 From  Cara Naden  to  Everyone:

Direct emissions by councils = 2% Emissions under the influence of councils = 33% of national emissions.

20:33:19 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone:

somersetcan@gmail.com 

20:34:44 From  Phil Shepherd  to  Everyone:

phil@somersetfilm.com 

20:34:44 From  Somerset CAN  to  Everyone: www.seedsedgemoor.com

20:34:57 From  Julia Morris  to  Everyone:

Thank you

Friends of the Earth guide for Town and Parish Councils:

This guide compliments Friends of the Earth’s template Local Climate Action Plan1.

In this guide we identify actions that parish and town councils can take on climate change and nature. Its purpose is to support those of the 10,000 local councils across England and 750 community councils in Wales who want to “do their bit” in addressing the climate and nature emergency.

Be a force for good

  1. Encourage the formation of Climate Action groups.

Communities across the country are coming together to take climate action in response to the climate and nature emergency. Climate Action groups will encourage and support you to take local political action, build positive community solutions, and join together to demand national action. Parish, town and community councils should encourage and support the formation of these groups. Friends of the Earth will provide resources, training and advice to climate action groups (see takeclimateaction.uk ).

  1. Actively support small and large planning applications for new renewable energy in the area.

Planning decisions will be made by the local planning authority, which needs to hear from those that support the applications. The UK needs to increase the amount of renewable energy it generates by around eight-fold.

  1. Promote practical action by local people.

People can often be at a loss about what they can practically do to reduce their own carbon footprint or support nature. An impartial local guide that provides information on accredited local businesses can be invaluable and help keep money in the local economy. The guide could include information on local accredited energy assessors and renewable energy installers for solar panels, batteries, EV charging points and heat pumps, eco-friendly retailers, green builders and landscape companies, etc. It can also encourage sustainable transport options.

  1. Bring together groups of people for bulk purchases.

The costs of installing solar PV, or other renewable technologies such as heat pumps, should be much lower if done in bulk, street by street, or area by area. A town or parish council can bring together local homeowners and businesses to develop such a scheme – it’s a widely used model in the Netherlands and places such as Suffolk and Frome in the UK. Bulk purchases of energy audits or energy insulation is also possible. Transition Streets is an example of this approach.

  1. Develop and promote lift-sharing scheme.

By convening local businesses and car-sharing schemes, such as the social enterprise Liftshare, it’s possible to help local people reduce the carbon pollution from car use, save money and foster new friendships. An analysis by Liftshare suggested that 92% of people commuting to work in over 200 locations lived close enough to be able to share a car to work. Lift-sharing may often be a solution for people when public transport, cycling or walking to work isn’t. Car-sharing schemes for non-commuting journeys should also be promoted.

  1. Use your voice.

Decisions on infrastructure projects are largely made by local authorities, Local Economic Partnerships, or by national government. But too many of these decisions will increase carbon emissions and / or harm nature. Use your voice when possible to oppose high-carbon developments, promoting sustainable alternatives instead. Press local authorities and MPs to demand national changes to bus services regulations, so all areas can regulate buses as London does, and urban profit-making routes can cross-fund loss making rural routes.

  1. Demonstrate leadership through your own practical actions

Save energy.

Ensure any council buildings are as energy efficient as possible and any street lighting uses well-directed LED lighting. Getting an energy audit is the first step. Loans for projects in England that have a payback of less than five years are available through Salix funding. Projects with longer term paybacks should still be carried out.

  1. Produce green energy.

Install renewable energy generation, like heat pumps and solar PV, at council buildings. Heat pumps benefit from a government grant that will partially cover the cost. Several energy companies provide a smart export tariff, which pays for any electricity generated that isn’t used by the building, including offering top prices if the solar PV is used in conjunction with a battery. Funds can also be raised through Salix loans. or through crowdfunding. Buildings using renewable energy should also be used as a showcase to help local people see these technologies first-hand, in particular less familiar technologies such as heat pumps. An electronic display showing how much energy has been generated and how much money and CO2 emissions saved is one way of demonstrating the benefits.

  1. Reduce pesticide use and other harmful activities.

It’s possible to reduce activities that harm wildlife, from using peat-free compost to shunning pesticides and ensuring light pollution is controlled. Glastonbury Town Council has stopped using glyphosate weed killer and instead uses a hot foam system. These steps alone are not enough to protect and restore nature but they’re an important first step. To encourage others, promote the actions you’re taking, for example use signage on council-owned land where you use peat-free compost.

  1. Manage land for nature.

Parish, town and community councils can have responsibility for allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, commons and open spaces, and village greens. All of these can be managed to enhance nature, particularly through changing mowing regimes. Friends of the Earth and Buglife have produced a guide to developing an action plan for helping pollinators such as bees. Buglife’s B-lines project aims to support the development of a network of wildlife friendly corridors. Friends of the Earth is piloting a crowd-funded postcode gardener project to help people green the streets where they live.

  1. Increase tree cover.

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the UK to double tree cover. The Forestry Commission and others have suggested that even urban areas should aim for at least 20% tree cover. Parish, town and community councils should aim to double tree cover and, if necessary, go beyond this to reach the 20% minimum. Much of this will involve encouraging and supporting landowners to take park in tree planting. The Tree Charter, developed by the Woodland Trust, provides excellent guidance on how to increase tree cover. The National Association of Local Councils website provides case studies where it has been used.

  1. Buy green.

Buying local can support the local economy and buying green can help protect the planet, rewarding businesses committed to a better future. Buying green electricity helps develop new renewable energy and ensures the council isn’t supporting dirty energy financially. Friends of the Earth has identified Ecotricity, Good Energy and Octopus as the greenest energy companies. Buying green can also extend to any food provided at events, including providing mainly plant-based food and less but better meat and dairy.  

  1. Use green transport.

Employees and councillors should be encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport or car-share. The council should provide bikes or electric bikes for staff as they carry out any work-related trips. It should also provide zero-interest loans for buying bikes. Where a car or van is needed it should be electric only.

  1. Minimise waste going to landfill or incineration.

In your own operations, ensure all your waste is recycled or composted, but also consider setting-up community recycling facilities for hard-to-recycle items when the local authority hasn’t done so, for example in partnership with Terracycle. Bisley Parish Council has set up a community composting scheme. The best approach for waste minimisation is reuse (eg, reusable cups) or avoiding unnecessary purchases.

  1. Ensure money is invested wisely.

Across the UK, local authorities are investing tens of millions of pounds each into fossil fuel companies, despite having declared a climate emergency. Although town council investments will be tiny in comparison, the council should still ensure any council funds are invested safely in low-risk sustainable banks or investment funds.

  1. Use your powers wisely

Ensure you know the climate change or nature implications of decisions before you make them.

It isn’t credible to accept the need for rapid action on climate change and nature and then make decisions without knowing whether they’ll be harmful or helpful. Requiring every decision to be well informed is common sense as well as good practice. This should extend to demanding that the planning authority provides you with this kind of information when consulting you.

  1. Designate sites within the Neighbourhood Plan for trees, renewable energy and nature restoration.

In practice, the development of 90% of Neighbourhood Plans is led by town and parish councils working hand in hand with their communities. The Neighbourhood Planning process is far from perfect and very time consuming, but it offers the community the opportunity to show it means business on protecting and enhancing the environment for future generations.

  1. Use the Neighbourhood Plan to require new homes to be energy efficient, nature friendly, and located close to public transport and amenities.

Given the climate and nature emergency, it’s unfortunate that the government doesn’t require all new homes to be as sustainable as possible. Neighbourhood Plans will identify sites for future housing and should push for these to be zero-carbon (eg, Passivhaus standard) and nature friendly, even though the local planning authority may seek to override this aim. Homes should also be fitted with renewable energy. Homes need to be located close to amenities and public transport to avoid car dependency.

  1. Designate safe walking and cycle routes in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Identify safe walking and cycling routes and where necessary work in partnership with district and county councils to deliver them. The Propensity to Cycle tool identifies the huge potential for increasing cycling in all areas of the country, particularly with good quality infrastructure, such as segregated cycleways and cycle-parking, and with the use of E-bikes17.

  1. Use differential car-parking charges to support low-carbon vehicles.

Any carparks run by the council should offer low cost or free car-parking to electric vehicles and dedicated spaces with electric charging points.

Acknowledgements

This list of actions has drawn on ideas kindly shared by others including Simon Pickering (Green councillor, Stroud), Robert Vint (Extinction Rebellion, Totnes) and Chris Gittins (Timsbury Parish Council). All three also kindly provided comments on an earlier draft, for which I thank them. Any mistakes or errors remain the author’s.

1. Friends of the Earth, September 2019, Get your council to adopt our climate action plan, https://takeclimateaction.uk/climate-action/get-your-council-adopt-our-climate-action-plan 

2. A register of accredited assessors is available at https://www.epcregister.com/searchAssessor.html 

3. To qualify for a government grant (Renewable Heat Incentive) to help with the costs of installing renewable heat such as solar thermal panels or heat pumps it’s necessary to use a certified installer. The list of certified installers is at https://mcscertified.com/find-an-installer/ 

4. See https://www.transitionstreets.org.uk 

5. There are a number of car-sharing schemes across the country, including national and local providers. Somerset County Council has a guide on setting up a community car-share scheme, http://www.travelsomerset.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Car-Scheme-Toolkit-All-You-Need-to-Know-DW-Edit-2.doc 

6. Webpage accessed 18 Sept 2019, https://www.salixfinance.co.uk/index.php/loans/parish-councils 

7. Ofgem has guidance on the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/non-domestic-rhi 

8. For example, Octopus was the first to offer a tariff to pay for exported energy (which will be metered) https://octopus.energy/outgoing/  Other companies will follow suit.

9. See https://www.salixfinance.co.uk/loans/parish-councils 

10. The company WeedingTech has produced a case study, but you might want to check on the current situation with Glastonbury Town Council, https://www.weedingtech.com/case_studies/glastonbury-town-council/ 

11. Buglife and Friends of the Earth, Helping pollinators locally, https://www.buglife.org.uk/sites/default/files/Helping%20Pollinators%20Locally.pdf 

12. Buglife B-lines Hub, https://www.buglife.org.uk/b-lines-hub 

13. See https://friendsoftheearth.uk/nature/10x-greener-towns-and-cities 

14. Urban Forestry and Woodland Advisory Committee Network, England’s Urban Forests: Using tree canopy cover data to secure the benefits of the urban forest, https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/documents/2109/FR_FC_TreeCanopyData_leaflet.pdf 

15. NALC website, The Tree Charter, https://www.nalc.gov.uk/our-work/treecharter  

16. Terracycle website, https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/ 

17. Propensity to Cycle tool, https://www.pct.bike/ 

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