Budget to reflect climate emergency.

More trees, reducing waste and encouraging walking and cycling are just some of the ways more than £800k of additional funding is going to be used by B&NES to help tackle the Climate and Nature Emergency.

The measures look set to be agreed by councillors when the annual budget’s set next week.

In addition, new investment in key priority areas including delivering more affordable and low carbon housing, introducing low traffic neighbourhoods, increased street cleaning and supporting vulnerable people will be considered by Bath & North East Somerset Council as part of its budget-setting process.

The significant investment in the Climate and Nature Emergency will help the area reach carbon neutrality by 2030.  If given final approval at the Budget and Council Tax meeting on Tuesday 25 February, the money will be spent on a package of measures including enabling a shift in the way people get around, planting thousands more trees and reducing waste.

More than 150 separate actions have already been identified where the council, working with partners and the local community, can make an impact on reducing carbon emissions.

Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency, said: “When we declared a Climate Emergency it was just the starting point of our journey to reach our ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality across Bath and North East Somerset by 2030.

“Radical action is needed and over the past months we’ve listened to what you’ve had to say, carried out ground-breaking research and worked with partners to establish targets, build momentum and develop an action plan to provide leadership, drive innovation and embed change.

“We’ve identified three priorities for action to focus on in our journey to carbon neutrality: a large-scale increase in local renewable energy generation, a major shift to sustainable methods of transport, energy efficiency improvements to most existing buildings and zero carbon new builds. We’ve also recognised the close interdependency between the climate emergency and nature and so are also committing to address this”.

“Tackling the Climate Emergency is one of our two key priorities which are embedded into our new Corporate Strategy and now shape everything we do. We’re really beginning to change the way we work and have been able to shift resources to our Climate Emergency priorities.”

Budget commitments to address the Climate Emergency include:

  • £323k to provide leadership to the whole of Bath and North East Somerset to achieve zero carbon 2030 plus an additional £64k boost in 2020/21
  • £50k for initial work to mitigate the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney Air Quality Management areas
  • £200k to support projects such as low traffic neighbourhoods which prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in residential areas
  • £150k to deliver cycleways and footpaths across B&NES
  • £60k to support the council’s tree and woodland strategy and tree planting
  • £25k for improving guidance to householders on energy efficiency

Councillors are also being asked to give final sign-off to the council’s new Corporate Strategy. It will guide decision-making over the next four years and help to make the council more accountable to the communities it serves. It outlines the council’s purpose, to improve people’s lives, which will be driven by two core policies: tackling the Climate and Nature Emergency and giving people a bigger say.

To address the Climate Emergency, it focuses on the following key areas:

  • encouraging people to get involved through a wide-ranging programme of community engagement including citizens’ juries
  • improving energy efficiency in existing buildings and through zero carbon new builds
  • promoting the use and production of local renewable power generation
  • preserving and enhancing our natural environment and biodiversity through, for example, improving the diversity of grassland habitats and developing a new tree and woodland strategy
  • ensuring the council itself becomes carbon neutral through a raft of measures including increased use of electric vehicles and the introduction of a carbon literacy programme for staff
  • reducing waste by, for example, encouraging recycling and discouraging the use of single-use plastics

150 separate specific measures have been identified in the council’s Corporate Delivery Programme 2020/21, including:

  • encouraging the use of local suppliers
  • replacing the energy-capture equipment in the King’s Bath, which no longer works, to maximise the potential of thermal water to supply the World Heritage Centre and Clore Learning Centre
  • developing a model to improve home energy efficiency and a supporting funding mechanism
  • delivering the Bath River line and East of Bath cycle route
  • providing air quality monitoring data to measure the impact of introducing traffic controls
  • reducing dependence on coach-borne visitors to the Roman Baths
  • ensuring Community Infrastructure Levy funding helps to improve sustainable transport infrastructure
  • increasing litter picking
  • reviewing B&NES Green Infrastructure Strategy

Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “In addition to the allocation of funding to address the Climate Emergency, we are proposing significant investment in affordable homes and sustainable transport. We are also looking at £140k for additional litter and fly-tipping enforcement, £30k to support research into the development of a sustainable Council House Building programme and £152k to support domestic violence and abuse services, all of which are aimed at improving people’s lives.”

Final approval is also sought for £43.6m capital funding for new projects, including £2m to redevelop Bath Studio School to provide local specialist educational provision for children with autism and complex social, emotional mental health needs.

The council is proposing a general council tax increase of 1.99%, which equates to an increase of £27.88 for a Band D property.

The increase would be in addition to a 1.99% increase in the social care precept, which is ring-fenced to support Adult Social Care services. This is also equivalent to an increase of £ 27.88 per year on a Band D property.  For a Band D property, this will result in a council tax increase of £55.76 (3.98%) for services provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Adult Social Care Precept.

The Budget & Council Tax meeting will be held on Tuesday 25 February at 6.30pm, Council Chamber, Guildhall, Bath.

For more information on the council’s Climate Emergency programme visit:

www.bathnes.gov.uk/climate-emergency