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East Suffolk Environment Task Group

At a full council meeting in July 2019, all East Suffolk councillors voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency.

East Suffolk’s Leader, Councillor Steve Gallant has made it clear that the environment is a top priority for the council. We want to introduce considered practical policies which address the environmental issues in East Suffolk and help to build a legacy for future generations.

As a direct result of the climate emergency declaration, a cross-party Environment Task Group was established to analyse policies inherited from East Suffolk’s predecessor’s (Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils) to ensure these policies are fit for purpose and identify areas for improvement.

The Environment Task Group meets quarterly, reporting to Cabinet where issues are then discussed to decide if a feasibility study is required.

By adopting a climate emergency, the council has begun to thread the environment through all decisions, choices and policy formation.

Our target is to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 but we hope to achieve so much more:

  • Meet our target of carbon neutrality by 2030
  • Pilot schemes to reduce verge cutting to encourage wildflowers, insects and pollinators
  • Trial alternatives to the use of glyphosate sprays
  • Replace existing Norse fleet with electric vehicles
  • Encourage local communities and town/parish councils to plant trees and orchards where appropriate
  • Encourage communities to recycle items which cannot be recycled through the household bins
  • Encourage use of pavement recycling bins
  • Encourage more self-sufficiency
  • Ensure that new council-owned housing developments are built to a high standard with a minimum carbon footprint and minimum running costs
  • Ensure new leisure facilities are built to exemplar environmental standards
  • Restore, optimise and advertise sustainable infrastructure across East Suffolk

One of the most important aspects of being environmentally responsible is communicating with, and listening to, local communities and town/parish councils. To improve the environment, we must all work together in partnership and increase personal choice and responsibility.

To deliver and lead on the above, the council will educate, lead by example and introduce new policies.

Environment Task Group Members

Work to date

  • March 2020: Town and parish councils in East Suffolk are being encouraged to plant trees in their communities. Any town or parish council, or community group, wishing to plant trees is encouraged to contact their district councillor to determine whether there is any East Suffolk-owned land which would be suitable for planting. If land is not suitable for tree planting, it may be possible for the land to be allocated for rewilding or to become a wildflower meadow. Tree planting schemes can be supported through East Suffolk councillors’ individual Enabling Communities Budgets, with trees available through third party organisations.

  • November 2019: Review of a report from Groundwork Suffolk on the Council's work to reduce its carbon emissions. The report recognised the steps the council has already taken to reduce carbon emissions by just under 23% over the last three years, including moving to its new energy efficient buildings in Lowestoft, which benefits from solar PV and Melton, which is heated by air-sourced heat pumps, and installing solar PV at the recently refurbished Deben Leisure Centre and Leiston Leisure Centre. The report identifies areas that the council will need to focus on to achieve its ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030

  • Presentation by Suffolk Climate Change Partnership

Upcoming presentations

  • Development of a planning guide to encourage environmentally responsive behaviour by developers
  • Suffolk Waste Partnership presentation on waste/recycling and the challenges going forward
  • Bio-diversity presentation looking at how changes in behaviour can be made to encourage and protect our wild heritage

Cllr James Mallinder, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Chairman of East Suffolk’s Environment Task Group, said:

“Taking action on climate change is a priority for East Suffolk Council and the Environment Task Group helps us to keep focused, engaging with all ward members and council officers. We are committed to working with local community groups, residents and businesses to continue to build on policies as further priorities and initiatives develop.

"I am particularly interested in getting young people involved and give them a voice in what we are doing, as ultimately they will be inheriting the legacy we are trying to achieve.

"Whilst we don’t have all the answers, we do believe that one of the keys to tackling climate change is to embrace partnership working and collaborations. We also want to encourage individuals in our communities to get involved by setting up their own initiatives as small changes really do make a big difference over time. We all need to take action.”

Climate Change forum

A public Climate Change Forum was held on 3 February 2020 at Riverside co-hosted by the East Suffolk Greenprint Forum and the Environment Task Group.