Cllr Julia Neden-Watts on Richmond Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan annual update

16 February 2022

At last night’s Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Services Committee (15 February 2022), councillors were presented with the annual update on our Climate Emergency Action Plan. 2021 was a remarkable year and, as a borough, we have achieved a huge amount.

This was highlighted wonderfully during Richmond Climate Week in November last year, when we partnered with local conservation charity Habitats & Heritage to host 20 community events. The week brought together over 1,000 people, including school children, with local organisations, community groups and climate experts to take part in finding shared solutions to the climate crisis. You can catch-up on videos from the week.

Our efforts have also been recognised nationally, through the independent Climate Emergency UK Scorecard. Richmond’s Climate Emergency Strategy came out third in London against nine key indicators, which recognise the ambition of our plan to tackle climate change, with clear goals and putting residents at the heart of what we aim to achieve.

The report presented to the Committee last night provides an update on the actions delivered by the Council in 2021. The Action Plan is an important on-going working document for both the Committee and Council that ensures our work is focused on the key areas of our response to the Climate Emergency. The annual update provides the committee and I, as Chair, with a detailed breakdown of the activities from the previous year, as well as the focus for the next year.

Our Climate Emergency Strategy has six main areas of focus. I am pleased to outline some of the key things we have achieved in the past year within each of these areas.

Our Council

  • We have secured funding from the Low Carbon Skills Fund and Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to deliver decarbonisation of the Council's estate.
  • Nearly three quarters of streetlights in the borough have been upgraded to LED, saving energy. In addition, work has been carried out to install lower kelvin lights in areas of wildlife value to minimise light pollution.
  • We are continuing to replace council vehicles with low-emitting and electric ones, and we are working with our contractors to ensure they do the same.

Our legacy

  • We gave our Youth Council £10,000 of funding to spend on a climate change project. They decided to commission grants for six climate projects run by local youth clubs and schools, to allow more young people the opportunity to learn about climate change and what they can do to help combat it on a bigger scale.
  • We have put climate change at the centre of our Local Plan – the planning vision we set for future development and improvement in our borough over the next 15 years. At the heart of the plan is the concept of a 20-minute neighbourhood, which enables communities to 'live locally', bringing many benefits such as healthier lifestyles, cleaner air and stronger local economies.
  • We supported residents on lower incomes to make their home more energy efficient, through the Green Homes Grant, and we supported the highest sign-up of any London borough to the Solar Together scheme, giving residents access to cheaper solar panels through a group buying scheme.
  • There are now 464 electric vehicle charging points in the borough and we have secured £300,000 which will provide a further 130 lamp column charging points in 2022.

Our waste

  • We have continued the roll-out of a food recycling collection service to residents who live in flats across the borough and we have expanded our collection of textiles with our partners TRAID.
  • We are currently leading work to reduce single-use plastics and packaging as part of London Council’s One World Living programme, which focuses on reducing carbon emissions produced through consumption.
  • We are also leading the Encouraging the Circular Economy project across West London, which is helping to highlight local businesses and projects, like the Richmond Furniture Scheme and the Refill Larder in Teddington, that help to promote the circular economy of re-using rather than buying new goods.

Our air

  • We have continued our campaign to become an idle-free borough, asking drivers to turn off their engines when waiting at level-crossings or doing pick-ups and drop-offs. Over 3,000 residents have pledged to support this campaign and make a change. You can sign the pledge
  • We announced the upgrade and electrification of trading sites across the borough, which will allow trade vans and stalls, including ice cream vans, to operate using newly installed electric plug-in points.
  • We have continued to deliver on our Air Quality Action Plan, which has included improved air monitoring through the implementation of innovative new sensor technology and the introduction of a further 12 school streets, which limit air pollution around schools. This work resulted in Richmond being announced as the highest mover in the 2021 Healthy Street Scorecard. This is an independent study that compares each London borough on the actions taken to improve air quality, boost active lifestyles and reduce carbon emissions.

Our nature

  • We planted 571 new trees, worked to support endangered native trees and are working with schools to rewild areas of their grounds in partnership with Habitats and Heritage, as well as rewilding our highway verges to allow for increased biodiversity across the borough.
  • We launched the cultural reforesting programme at Orleans House Gallery, aiming to renew residents' relationship with nature. The programme has worked with a range of artists and partners to carry out research on Orleans House Gallery grounds and across the borough, with an exhibition at the gallery throughout much of 2021.

Our water

  • Preparing the borough for flooding and flood risk is a priority for us, and the new Local Plan has strengthened requirements for managing surface water flood risks and sustainable drainage, as well as groundwater flood risks.
  • As part of the Government’s new Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme, we successfully bid for funding to improve flood risk management in areas that need it most, like the Beverley Brook catchment area. This is being developed in partnership with Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Friends of Barnes Common, to modernise flood risk management and help restore a more natural watercourse in our urban environment.

We know that our residents and local groups have also continued to do amazing work in our fight to decarbonise the borough. Richmond Climate Week highlighted for me the tremendous enthusiasm and engagement amongst residents with climate issues and residents’ determination to act. If you want to find out more about some of the projects going on locally, you can listen to our Climate Change podcast episodes or watch one of our videos with local climate champions.

If you are interested in getting involved with local climate-related projects or have an idea to help combat our carbon emissions in the borough, please contact our partners at Habitats & Heritage.

You can also sign up to receive regular climate change updates from the Council.

I would like to thank Richmond Council’s Climate Team for their help in putting this year's annual report together.

Watch What did we do to address the climate emergency in 2021?


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Up to: February 2022

Updated: 26 July 2022

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