East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025, launched in 2020 sets out our commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency at a local level. 

It also sets out the vision and overall aims for a ‘Net Zero Council’ and a ‘Carbon Neutral East Lothian’ with specific outcomes, key priority areas and actions over an initial five year period towards achieving these overall aims.

Since the launch of the strategy it was recognised that although many planned priorities and actions have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic other opportunities have arisen which can result in a positive impact in reducing carbon emissions.

Environment spokesperson, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said: “The past 18 months has been challenging for all of us but nevertheless the Council has continued to reduce its carbon footprint and deliver actions identified within the action plan which all contribute towards us becoming a Net Zero Council.

“New actions have also been identified for future years and the Council will continue to keep abreast of changing legislation and explore new opportunities. Covid-19 has proven the concept that many council staff can work remotely and services can be delivered with fewer assets. The Council is now analysing and considering how to build on this learning, and exploring opportunities for the future ‘new normal’.

“The engagement, interest and commitment of young people in the climate change debate is recognised within East Lothian and I am personally grateful to both individuals and groups, such as Eco-Committees within schools and the East Lothian Youth Council, for their continued contributions to this important subject. Results of a survey of pupils late last year from several local primary and secondary schools showed that young people thought pupils at their school had changed behaviours during the pandemic, which could also benefit the environment and climate. This included walking to school more often and using local shops more. The pupils also provided us with valuable feedback on our strategy, and as we continue to progress more actions within the strategy the continued engagement and consultation with young people will be crucial for successful outcomes.

“A particularly exciting new action reported in our strategy update earlier this year is work to develop an East Lothian Climate Forest, which would be delivered by an East Lothian Climate Forest Partnership with direct links with our communities. The proposal is to develop a 10 year strategy that will aim to plant two million trees across the county enabling us to reach our target of a carbon neutral East Lothian whilst also delivering a range of biodiversity and green network benefits. Council Officers have had initial discussions to scope the proposal and will now seek to procure a delivery partner.”

Key achievements since the strategy launch include:

  • Continued progression of the installation of solar PV on the Council’s housing stock for energy generation, and the improvement of energy efficiency of civic buildings across East Lothian, including council offices, community centres and a swimming pool;
  • Exploration of opportunities for renewable energy generation in East Lothian with partners. A feasibility study by Zero Waste Scotland confirmed a solar farm is feasible for energy generation at Carberry former landfill site. The Council is a partner in the ParkPower project – a national project identifying opportunities to generate Green Heat in Green Spaces. Consideration is being given to the potential to use bio-methane from food waste as an energy source following a positive high-level feasibility study;
  • The Council achieved the Soil Association Scotland’s ‘Food for Life Served Here’ Bronze Award again this year for the 7th year in a row, for its commitment to providing fresh, locally sourced and sustainable food for school meals, and is working towards a Silver award;
  • Waste Services reported an increase in East Lothian’s household recycling rate to 55.3% (2019) of total household waste recycled;
  • Increase in the Council’s Electric Vehicle (EV) fleet and the installation of public EV chargepoints across East Lothian. 11 new Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) were added to the Council’s fleet, funded by Transport Scotland’s Switched On Fleets Programme, increasing current fleet to 28 EVs. The roll-out of EV chargepoints across the county continues with at least one Journey (Rapid) charger in each of East Lothian’s 11 largest towns, and the number of Destination chargers for residential use increased from 3 in 2017 to over 60.

East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 covers two major aspects of climate change: Climate Change Mitigation – which sets out how East Lothian Council will reduce their emissions to reach net zero as soon as reasonably practicable, and work with partners towards a carbon neutral East Lothian; and Climate Change Adaptation which recognises that climate change is already impacting upon the planet and sets out how East Lothian Council will adapt to and prepare for future changes in climate and to enable local communities and businesses to become more resilient.

In recognition of Climate Change Adaptation:

  • The Council continues to take action to tackle future climate change impacts: a key area currently advancing is Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme which is now progressing Stage 4 of the Scheme (Outline Design)
  • The Council’s Design Standards for New Housing Areas Supplementary Planning Guidance was adopted in June 2020. This document aims to improve housing design across the area, making more attractive, sustainable places for living, and includes climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 is available to view and download on the council website www.eastlothian.gov.uk/climatechangestrategy

Published: Monday, 1st November 2021