Mid Sussex District Council ‘becoming more eco-friendly’

Mid Sussex District Council said it is becoming more eco-friendly thanks to some innovative changes to its buildings and public spaces.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:33 am

The Scrutiny Committee for Leader, Finance and Performance discussed the progress of the council’s Sustainability Strategy on Wednesday, March 10.

Members heard that PV solar panels installed on council buildings generated 27,404 kwh of pollution-free electricity in 2020/21, a carbon reduction of 6.9 tonnes.

Energy efficient windows, heating improvements and changes to LED lighting have saved energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, too.

Over 3,500 metres of footways, cycle paths and bridleways have been enhanced over the past year. Picture: Peter Cripps

The council said it supported sustainable ways for employees to travel by providing electric vehicle charging points at council offices and offering staff access to electric bikes for business and recreation.

Its Parking Services team aims to replace three petrol cars with electric vehicles for civil enforcement officers.

In Burgess Hill, the council has secured £20million to fund sustainable transport initiatives in the Place and Connectivity Programme.

In the past year, more than 3,500 metres of footways, cycle paths and bridleways have been enhanced to provide alternatives to using a car.

Councillor John Belsey, district council cabinet member for Environment and Service Delivery, said: “We are always looking for ways to protect the environment, tackle climate change and support the Government’s work to cut Greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.”

However, in contrast, Lib Dem councillor Simon Hicks said parts of sustainability strategy had not been achieved and hoped for more demanding targets towards becoming carbon neutral.

He said the key target of achieving a 50 percent domestic recycling rate by 2020 had not been met, with a 43 percent recycling rate reported for the last quarter.

He also said that the strategy included a plan for a Burgess Hill to Haywards Heath Cycle Route by June 2021, which is now not feasible in the timescale.

“The district council has made good progress on some sustainability issues, however the current sustainability strategy lacks ambition and the proposed approach of replacing it with a sustainable economic strategy raises questions of whether environmental sustainability is being put on the back burner.

“Therefore I hope that the working party proposed by the scrutiny committee to formulate the new strategy is able to challenge the council to set demanding targets towards becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient given the huge nature of the task we face due to climate change.”

Mr Hicks said before the pandemic, the recycling rate in Mid Sussex was flatlining, although, he said, clearly Covid-19 has had an impact.

“I am pleased the long-promised food waste collection service continues to be prioritised for implementation,” he added.