3 National and local context

3.1 National context

The Climate Change Act 2008 set out a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% against 1990 levels by 2050.  In July 2019, the target was updated to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

To meet these targets, the UK Government has set five yearly carbon budgets that legally restrict the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period.

The Clean Growth Strategy, published in October 2017, sets out the Government’s proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s.  It explains how the whole country can benefit from low carbon opportunities, while meeting national and international commitments to tackle climate change.

 In January 2018, the Government published ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment'.  This sets out goals for improving the environment in England, within a generation, and details how the Government will work with communities and businesses to do this.

In July 2018, the Government published ‘Reducing emissions from road transport: Road to Zero Strategy’. This sets out new measures to clean up road transport and lead the world in developing, manufacturing and using zero emission road vehicles.  The Government acknowledges the key role of local authorities in facilitating the development of charging networks, particularly in relation to their responsibilities for local planning policy.  

In July 2019, the Climate Change Committee published its latest update report, which acknowledged the progress the UK has made so far and stated there was cause for optimism that the UK could become carbon neutral by 2050.  However, the committee warned most of the country’s greenhouse gas emission reductions over the last five years had been achieved in electricity generation, with little progress being made in other sectors. 

In October 2019, the Environment Bill was introduced to Parliament. This provides a basis for tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental risks and confirms the UK as one of the leading developed nations in moving towards net zero emissions.  Importantly, it sees the role of local government as being essential in responding to environmental challenges locally and the bill includes proposals on resource management and environmental protection. Both of these support the targets and ambitions set out in the Climate Change Act.

In 2019, the Government published proposals for a Future Homes Standard, including proposed options to increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes in 2020. If introduced, the Future Homes Standard would require new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. 

In early 2020, the Government pledged to bring forward a ban on new diesel and petrol car sales from 2040, to 2035.  In July 2020, the Chancellor announced a £2 billion grant scheme Green Homes Grant scheme in England for projects such as insulation as part of a wider £3 billion plan to cut emissions.  Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, the Government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home energy-saving improvements.

3.2 Worcestershire context

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s 2014 Strategic Economic Plan outlines the county’s growth ambitions and identifies key sectors as opportunity areas, including advanced manufacturing and agri-tech.  The plan also contains a goal of reducing carbon emissions while meeting growth ambitions and an ambition to increase local energy generation with geothermal energy development proposed as key means of achieving this.

The 2018-2027 Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan identifies 17 habitats and 26 species, or species groups, which are of particular conservation priority in the county. Individual action plans for each of these provide an overview of the current status of the habitat or species in Worcestershire, identify threats to it and current areas of work or activity being undertaken by partners.

In February 2019, Worcestershire LEP published a Worcestershire Energy Strategy.  This contains the following vision for the future of energy in Worcestershire: 

  • By 2030, Worcestershire will have a thriving low carbon economy which, supports the creation of high value jobs, and stimulates investment and clean growth across the county.
  • We will have high-quality energy-efficient housing stock and a robust, diverse energy infrastructure, underpinned by low carbon generation which utilises Worcestershire’s unique local resources.

The strategy contains a target to reduce the county’s carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 (against a 2005 baseline), with an aspiration to work towards a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2040. There are three key targets to be delivered by 2030.  These are:

  • Reduction in carbon emissions of 50% on 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Double the size of the low carbon sector between 2016 and 2030.
  • Tripling energy production from renewable generation by 2030.

3.3 Wychavon context

This council has shown strong leadership on carbon reduction and environmental stewardship for over a decade.  We first signed up to the Worcestershire Climate Change Pledge in 2005, agreed on a climate change action plan in 2008 and adopted our first pdf Wychavon Intelligently Green Plan (1.66 MB) in 2012. This set out our vision for a greener, more energy efficient and self-sufficient Wychavon. 

Our strategic commitments to carbon reduction have been matched by practical action.  Examples include investing in the Pershore hydropower scheme, installing solar panels on the Civic Centre and public toilets, delivering a wide range of domestic energy efficiency schemes, creating new habitats and installing 24 electric vehicle charging points in our car parks.

In February 2020, we agreed on an ambitious new four year strategy for the council that provides the strategic context for this plan.  This will focus our spending and people resources over the next four years on three key priorities – Supporting People, Strong Economy and Places and Sustainable Environment.  Seven of the strategy’s 12 goals are relevant to this plan, these are listed below.

  • Tackling climate change
  • Improving the natural environment
  • Improving access to local transport
  • Improving links between places
  • Encouraging well designed, distinctive and sustainable developments
  • Growing the economy
  • Minimising waste and keeping the district clean

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), also known as the local plan, was adopted in February 2016 by the three south Worcestershire councils, which include Wychavon.   The SWDP deals with both strategic cross boundary matters, including overall housing and employment requirements, and also includes detailed policies that are used in decisions on planning applications on a day to day basis by all three councils.  The three councils are currently reviewing the SWDP and are seeking to identify land to accommodate an additional 14,000 dwellings and around 200 hectares of employment land for the period up to 2041.

Timeline of our commitment to carbon reduction

  • 2005 signed up to the Worcestershire Climate Change pledge
  • 2008 commissioned free independent advice from the Energy Saving Trust and Carbon Trust
  • 2008 agreed a climate change action plan and signed the Nottingham Declaration
  • 2011 coined the term ‘intelligently green’
  • 2011 installed 42 solar photovoltaic panels on the Civic Centre
  • 2012 published our first Wychavon Intelligently Green Plan
  • 2012 met with the Minister of State for Climate Change and Energy to talk about our Intelligently Green Plan
  • 2012 signed up to Climate Local
  • 2012/13 installed our first electric vehicle charging points.
  • 2013 invested £300,000 in the Pershore hydroelectric power scheme
  • 2014 launched the inaugural Wychavon Intelligently Green Awards
  • 2016 led a ground-breaking study into heat use across Worcestershire
  • 2018 began installing innovative energy and water saving features in some of our public toilets
  • 2019 created new and improved habitats for pollinators
  • 2019 began trialling a HERU at the Civic Centre
  • 2019 installed solar panels on some of our public toilets
  • 2019 began work on developing a new Intelligently Green Plan
  • 2019/ 2020 installed 20 additional electric vehicle charging points in our car parks