Wakefield Council makes progress in supporting district’s climate change goals

Wakefield Council is making progress in both addressing its own carbon emissions and in supporting the district to become carbon neutral two years on since it declared a climate change emergency.

The Council’s plans for street lighting changes and the planting of new trees, have exceeded this year’s annual targets.

It has made changes to street lighting from energy-intensive, light-polluting to low-energy Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights that reduce light pollution, save costs and dramatically cut carbon emissions.

Since January more than 8,000 street lights have been converted to the new LED lights, more than half of the target of 13,600 lights in the district that are scheduled to be changed by December.

Other areas that will see lights being changed over the coming months are Carr Gate, Eastmoor, Gawthorpe, Kirkhamgate, Lee moor, Lofthouse, Ossett, Outwood, Parklands Stanley, Wakefield and Wrenthorpe.

The Council has also surpassed its tree planting target this year – with 14,000 trees planted on 5.6 hectares of land – the start of an ambitious plan to plant 2.6 million trees over the next 30 years in the district.

Also, 50% of the Council’s fleet now meet the latest Clean Air Zone (CAZ) emissions standards and it is working with the Energy Savings Trust (EST) to identify the most effective methods to transition vehicles on to an ultra-low emission platform which could initially see up to 130; cars to refuse collection vehicles, replaced at the end of their life with Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

There is now a network of rapid chargers available across the district, which have been used more than ten thousand times over the last 12 months by the growing number of electric vehicle owners.  More chargepoints are on their way during this year.

Other initiatives include the long running ~15 year Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Programme (HEEIP) of proactive interventions supporting households to improve heating and insulation, helping to save energy and carbon emission. So far 9,000 residents have been supported with 11,000 measures and £7.5m of external funding has been secured for the project.

Over the last 2 -3 years this has helped 81% of households to reduce their fuel bills – helping them save £237 annually. Energy efficiency standards have improved in all households treated and for 51% that has moved them to a better EPC banding.

In the past 12 months,  123 low income households have been supported with fully funded efficient heating through the pandemic. £2.8m has been secured for home energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements

Additionally, since the Big Boiler Scheme was launched, 145 residents will be supported with high efficiency boilers. And a Mega Solar Scheme will support 280 households with fully funded solar PV systems later in 2021.

Jack Hemingway smiling
Deputy Cllr Jack Hemingway

The Council has set itself a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030 and to support the district to achieve this goal by 2038 at the latest.

Cllr Jack Hemingway, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “This is a great start to delivering changes that will make a positive impact on our environment.

“The UK’s current target is to be carbon neutral by 2050 but Wakefield Council made a pledge to go both further and faster to respond to the threat of climate change. There is still a long way to go but it is very encouraging that we are already making progress to reach our overall target to protect our local environment, to increase bio-diversity and make our district a cleaner, greener and better place to live.”

The widespread plan is continuing, and work is progressing to reduce the Council’s Carbon footprint and work with our communities, businesses and public sector partners to achieve our ambitious plans for a carbon neutral future.

Notes for editors:

Benefits of LED lights:

LED lights are white which allows for better recognition of colours, enabling road markings, signs and people to be identified more easily. White light also assists in the clarity of CCTV footage.

LED lights minimise light pollution into homes and gardens by directing light onto the road and pavement where it is needed, light last longer and reduce likelihood of faults, they are  much more energy efficient and reduce energy consumption and are programmable so that it can be dimmed when appropriate.