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A greener future
We have been actively working on the climate change agenda for the past decade. During this time, we have taken huge steps forward in changing attitudes.
We want to inspire, drive and support our communities to address the challenges of the climate emergency, working in partnership to achieve real change.
Declaring a climate emergency
The council declared a climate emergency in June 2019 and resolved by that 2030 it would be carbon neutral in its operations and activities. We also approved our Green Energy Strategy in September 2019. With this in mind, our priorities are now to:
- Achieve sustainability in all our operations
- Reduce fuel poverty
- Improve security of energy supply
- Create regeneration and economic growth, generating income to fund green investments
The story so far
Energy self-sufficiency has not been reached by any council in the UK, but once the Hull solar farm is completed later this year we will be one step closer, with all of our electricity needs coming from this farm. Investments like this, alongside data we measure to track our carbon emissions, provides us with confirmation that we are making excellent progress to achieve our aims.
In 2009, for example, our emissions were 28,064 tonnes CO2.
In 2019, they were 13,954 tonnes CO2 – a reduction of over 50%.
In 2030, they will be net zero – and we have confidence we can achieve this.
Work to achieve carbon neutrality is well underway and our projects over the last decade show that we are making good progress in our aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Our projects to date
Some of the projects we've led and supported over the years to become a greener council, and to encourage our communities to be more green, are detailed below.
Many of our early carbon-saving projects focused on energy efficiency on our own estate, including schools and leisure centres.
The largest scheme, however, has been the rolling upgrade of our 18,000 streetlights to new LED technology, which has saved us more than £300,000.
At the same time, our home efficiency team has worked on the first large-scale solar scheme on social housing. We worked with Torus to fit 2,000 former council houses with solar PV installations, with electricity supplied to tenants.
The scheme generates 4,127 MWh of electricity/ year, helping tackle fuel poverty by saving tenants over £540,000 and reducing CO2 emissions by almost a thousand tonnes.
Our growing knowledge of solar technology has led to us working with businesses to reduce carbon emissions.
We have installed 3,000 solar panels at the Plastic Omnium building on the Omega building site in west Warrington – covering the area the size of a Premier League football pitch. We own, operate and maintain the panels, effectively renting out the roof space of the building.
The panels are generating 735,000kWh of electricity/ year, equal to the electricity used by 200 average households. Crucially, the use of the solar panels at the site will save around 208 tonnes of carbon every year.
We have installed 56 electric charging points at our Time Square multi-storey car park – one of the largest number at any one location in the country. The £85,000 investment is part of our commitment to reducing pollution, while increasing the uptake of low-emission electric vehicles in the town centre.
We're also pleased that our electric vehicle charging points in the car park (alongside a further 12 points at our Warrington West train station) are free to use.
Our most ground-breaking project is our partnership with GRIDSERVE to build the UK’s most advanced solar farms, in York and Hull. The landmark deal will make us the first council to produce all of our own electricity from clean energy, as well as generating millions of pounds every year to support essential services.
The solar farms will produce green electricity to power the equivalent of 18,000 homes. The York site consists of a 34.7MWp hybrid solar farm plus a 27MW battery storage system. The Hull site – which will have a 25.7MWp solar farm - will produce enough electricity for all our electricity needs and will also cut our energy bills. We expect this investment to yield £150 million over 30 years, while saving 31,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Our partnership with Scottish-based energy company, Together Energy, is another carefully-thought-out part of our green strategy. An £18m investment has given the council a 50% shareholding in the business, putting us in the position where we can genuinely tackle fuel poverty in the borough and provide employment opportunities for local people. We expect to be able to help around 10,000 Warrington residents living in fuel poverty.
At the same time, our investment means the company can drive forward with plans to supply 100% green energy, ensuring we as a council continue to lead the charge.