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Colchester Borough Council - Local Authority carbon management

Working with the Carbon Trust Colchester Borough Council developed a Carbon Management Strategy - and cut its carbon emissions by nearly 40%.

Colchester Leisure world


In 2008 The Carbon Trust worked with Colchester Borough Council to develop a Carbon Management Strategy, which resulted in the Council exceeding their target to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2012. In 2015 the Council decided to aim higher, refreshing the Local Authority Carbon Management (LACM) plan with a target to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 from baseline year 2008. The Council’s greenhouse gas emissions report for 2015/16 shows that the Council have now achieved a 39% reduction in carbon emissions, well on the way to achieving their target.

Colchester Borough Council is the local authority for Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, with a population of around 175,000.  The population in Colchester is set to rise to 193,806 by 2020: if the Council were to carry on with business as usual, by 2020 Colchester Borough Council could see a potential increase in carbon emissions of 11% compared to current levels.

By following the Carbon Trust’s collaborative LACM programme the Council identified a range of priorities to secure both carbon and financial savings.  These reflected the Council’s commitment to reduce the environmental impact from its buildings, services and operations, and to lead by example in the wider community. Following the signing of the LACM Strategy in 2008 the Council invested in its buildings, vehicle fleet and raising awareness of environmental behaviour amongst staff, along with a number of other priorities. 

Colchester Borough Council is committed to reduce its own environmental impact and has proven itself as a leading carbon cutting Council. The Council has worked with key sectors to share best practice including housing, business, education, communities and other Councils so that we are all working to adapt, build resilience and safeguard the environment for future generations. Our challenge will be to maintain our successful record in carbon reduction work as increased need for Council services will no doubt have an impact on the amount of fuel and energy we need to use.

Cllr Dominic Graham, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability, Colchester Borough Council

Alongside the carbon management plan, the Council developed an awareness raising campaign to highlight best practice in the community. This included making everything more accessible online, developing a new film for residents (www.colchester.gov.uk/sustainability) and introducing a ‘Building Resilient Communities’ event (www.colchester.gov.uk/brc). 

To help lead the way for residents and businesses and demonstrate action to minimise the impacts of climate change, the Council followed on from their commitment to the Government’s 2008 Nottingham Declaration, by becoming a signatory of Climate Local, with an action plan published and signed by the leader of the Council in September 2015.

Colchester Town Hall and High woods

The first LACM Plan 2008-2012 saved 2,444 tonnes of CO2, 133 tonnes more than the initial commitment.  Through increased efficiency and reduced costs the Council delivered financial savings of £787,700 over four years, including reduced energy costs. The Council has continued to take carbon reduction into consideration when developing new projects.

Projects include refurbishing the fitness pool at Colchester Leisure World and the replacement of the cremators at Colchester Crematorium. The Council has also worked in partnership with the town’s Mercury Theatre to replace the roof and windows, improving insulation and reducing heating costs. 

Since 2008 The Mercury has reduced its carbon footprint by 32% and last autumn added a new roof with insulation and replaced the windows in the front of house areas. This has resulted in a marked improvement in the ambient temperature of the bar and public areas.

Theresa Veith, Executive Director, The Mercury

Colchester castle

During 2014/15 Colchester Borough Council saw a small increase in carbon emissions, following an increase in population – however carbon emissions were significantly lower than if mitigating action had not been taken. Projects implemented during 2012-2015 achieved a 35.6% cumulative reduction in carbon emissions and it is this that provided the Council with a starting point for the new LACM Plan.

Colchester Borough Council is now implementing its second 5 year Carbon Management Plan, building on the great progress already made. If all the projects outlined in the plan are implemented it will result in estimated annual financial savings/cost avoidance of £243,300, with an overall payback period of 9.7 years.

Thanks to the LACM Plan the Council now considers energy efficiency as part of all its building management projects.  Investment in new technology and other improvements will continue beyond the lifetime of the plan.

Cutting carbon by 39% in five years is a huge achievement. Colchester Borough Council have not only managed to meet their own target by working with the Carbon Trust, they have also saved money on energy, shown leadership in their community, and helped to combat climate change.

Tim Pryce, Head of Public Sector at the Carbon Trust

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The Council asked the Carbon Trust to carry out a bespoke series of energy audits and feasibility studies to identify and help build the business case for the most suitable measures and technology options for capital investment.

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