Sutton making steady progress towards sustainability targets

Roger Mills ENVIRONMENT NEWS, NEWS Leave a Comment

Sutton Council is continuing to make steady progress in ensuring the borough meets its environmental, social and economic sustainability targets. The One Planet Sutton Progress Report for 2014-15 published today (Wednesday) shows the council is continuing to meet key priority targets under five themes:
Cutting carbon emissions
Cutting waste
Valuing our natural environment
Supporting healthy communities
Supporting the local economy

The 24-page progress report says that of Sutton’s 32 targets, 21 targets have been exceeded, met or are on target to be met, seven are not on target and the remaining four targets do not apply to 2014-15.

Key target findings are:

Cutting carbon emissions
The council’s Carbon Management Plan has saved the council an estimated £1.9m in energy costs since 2010-11.

Cutting waste
Total household waste in the borough has decreased since the baseline from 77,045 tonnes in 2009-10 to 73,350 tonnes in 2014-15, representing a 4.8 per cent decrease. This is above the national average of 2 per cent waste reduction per household.
Valuing our natural environment
The Sutton Food Forum was formed in December 2014 to drive delivery of local and sustainable food targets. The Sutton Food Forum has achieved Sustainable Food Cities Status and Sutton is one of only seven London boroughs to have achieved this standard.
During 2014-15 a number of improvement projects were undertaken along the River Wandle to enhance habitats and biodiversity, and reduce river pollution, including a Silt n SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) project in Hackbridge to alleviate flooding.
Supporting healthy communities
During autumn 2014 the council and its partners ran 47 free One Planet Sutton-themed events across 20 venues as part of the Imagine Festival 2014.
Fourteen parks across the borough have outdoor gyms, nine of which were installed in 2014. These outdoor gyms give adults access to free exercise equipment aimed at all levels of fitness and deliver health improvements.
In March 2015 a Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £1.52m was submitted to improve Whitehall Museum in Cheam and bring the heritage of Whitehall to life in the community.
Supporting the local economy
Opportunity Sutton, Sutton Council’s economic development arm, has attracted £330m investment into the borough and has contributed to the continued positive progress towards the Supporting the Local Economy targets.
On 1 April 2014 the council commenced payment of the London Living Wage for all employees, recognising the minimum income required for employees to meet their basic living needs.
However, the One Planet targets are ambitious and there are short- and medium-term goals of 2017 and 2025 respectively. Although all goals may not be reached by 2017, the overarching aim is for Sutton to become a One Planet Borough by 2025.

For example, while between 2007 and 2013 there was a 14.4 per cent reduction in CO2, which is on track to meet the 20 per cent target by 2017, the council has only been able to reduce carbon emissions from council buildings by 15 per cent between 2010/11 and 2014/2015 when the target was 50 per cent.

This is mainly because of an increase in the use of more CO2 intensive fuels by the UK power grid, however overall Sutton has the third lowest CO2 emissions out of the 32 London boroughs.

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Sutton prides itself on being a green borough and I am delighted we are meeting the majority of the One Planet Sutton targets. We are one of the best London council’s for low carbon emissions and our carbon management plan has saved £1.9m in energy costs over the past five years.

“There is no question that these targets are ambitious, and the work to meet them is made even harder in the current financial climate where our budgets are being cut by government.

“However, we will continue to look for ways to innovate and improve our performance and the One Planet Sutton report is a useful guide to benchmark where we are and see which areas we are succeeding in and which require more work by the council and our partners.”

The council committed to One Planet Living in 2009, creating a set of challenging sustainability targets to enable Sutton to become a One Planet Borough by 2025. But targets have twice been revised since 2009 to reflect changes in national policy and funding to local government.

Over the coming year Sutton will continue to deliver a wide variety of projects to help the borough meet its One Planet Sutton targets. These include the start of renovation of Whitehall Museum to make it into a historical and cultural hub, holding recycling roadshows and workshops across the borough, and continue progress towards creating a low-carbon energy network.

The One Planet Sutton report can be found at ONE PLANET here.