Cambridge vows to tackle climate change and invest in energy projects in new budget

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CAMBRIDGE City Council sets out its priority of taking action on climate change and biodiversity in its budget for 2020-21.

The General Fund Budget Setting Report, which has just been published, highlights how the annual government grant for the Cambridge Council dropped from £5m in 2013 to zero in 2019, and government New Homes Bonus funding now also projected to be cut from £5m per year to zero by 2023.

Action on climate change, biodiversity and the environment:

  1. Following its declaration of a Climate Emergency, the council will take a lead in reducing carbon emissions and increasing biodiversity, including extra funding to engage Cambridge organisations and households on ways they can work towards net-zero emissions, including to sign up to a new Cambridge Climate Charter, plus extra research funding linked to the planned 2020 Cambridgeshire-wide Climate Commission;
  2. Investing in new energy efficiency and generation projects, and researching the possibilities of further large scale investment in solar panel and renewable energy projects;
  3. Managing streets and open spaces to increase city biodiversity, including investing £15,000 in additional wildflower meadows over the next five years;
  4. Planting at least 2,000 new trees in the next three years to add to the 33,000 the council currently maintain in public places (including £200,000 extra funding for tree pits in pavements and public spaces), and installing a new fish pass at Jesus Green following the success of the recently installed one at Coe Fen;
  5. Installing new electric vehicle charging points in city car parks, working with the county council to develop on-street charging and replacing council vehicles with electric versions where possible.

The council also plans to build on its existing successful major investment programme to support its priority objectives and to drive additional income to support council service delivery, including:

  • A further £150,000 to improve the thermal efficiency of council buildings and potentially install more solar panels, led by a new council Corporate Energy Manager, in addition to £1.4 million spent in recent years on council energy efficiency, achieving a 25% reduction in its emissions since 2015.

Cllr Richard Robertson, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “Since 2014 we have invested an additional £50m of council reserves which had previously been earning near nil in low interest bank accounts, in commercial property and elsewhere, enabling us to build new housing and protect and enhance services.

“We now plan to create more resources for further reinvestment to help the local economy, address inequality and to make vital progress on cutting emissions and tackling climate change.”

The full detail of the General Fund Budget Setting Report will be considered by Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on Monday 3 February and by full Council on Thursday 13 February.

The General Fund Budget Setting Report can be viewed here.