LiL response to East Lothian Council consultation
LiL is sharing its response to the open consultation for East Lothian’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy. You are welcome to use all, or any of it. Or argue against it. You can respond to the online questionnaire or email firstname.lastname@example.org The consultation closes on 14th October.
LiL’s three key points for the Strategy are:
• The Council should be more ambitious and far reaching in its approach to climate change in East Lothian and lead a partnership of organisations & communities to deliver Sustainable East Lothian.
• The Council should address sustainability across its estate, its spending programmes and its policies.
• This issue is urgent and the strategy and early actions should reflect a commitment to rapid change and longer term continued progress. This should include commitments to be plastic free and carbon neutral.
East Lothian is a county rightly proud of its landscape and coastline and all that these provide. Recreation, tourism, high quality food and community wellbeing are all based on a healthy, attractive environment. By environment, we include the earth, water and air – the elements that sustain our communities and associated economies. At present that environment is taken for granted. Globally we are faced with a real challenge to minimise climate change and to plan for the changes we will need to make to our lives to adapt to the changes to our climate that are now inevitable. We therefore welcome the opportunity to input to the Council’s planning for this.
This will take radical action of the part of every individual, private or public organisation. The Council has an significant opportunity to become an exemplar of 'Sustainable' in Scotland and to make this our USP. Whilst climate change is a negative impact we have an opportunity to take action to make this strategy deliver positive change for East Lothian.
The recent IPCC report into climate change shows that we have a narrow window of opportunity to prevent the worst impact of climate change, but all the actions (in online questionnaire) need to become a priority for that to happen. The council must invest in climate change mitigation on all fronts.
We should strive to be 'Sustainable East Lothian' - where sustainability underpins everything we do: Sustainable planning, education, housing stocks, business and tourism. We should become Scotland's first plastic-free local authority and set ambitious carbon reduction targets for council operations, and for the county as a whole.
This will also become a marketing point for the council, the USP, with trends showing more people now looking to spend money "with conscience". Nike based its ad campaign around this - it's something big, savvy business is doing and East Lothian should too. More people will want to live, work, holiday and spend money in a county that is leading by example.
Better climate change mitigation will also support a more equitable society - better insulation to reduce the need for heating council homes, etc. Cheaper food by selling loose, unpackaged and helping people to eat seasonally and healthily.
In particular, the council in its buildings and (and that of Enjoy Leisure and other council contractors) has the ability – and moral responsibility – to lead by example and start conversations about what people can do at home themselves. Even by setting the challenge to become Sustainable East Lothian will spark conversations about what that means, what individuals can do to support that.
Here are some ideas for actions East Lothian Council could take, please rank them in terms of how important you think each one is.
• Single-use plastics: look into alternatives in Council-owned public buildings and venues
• Schools: look into alternatives to single-use plastics in schools
• Work with Enjoyleisure to reduce single-use plastics in leisure centres
Single use plastics should be phased out in the run up to a ban within all Council owned, operated or contracted premises. Award of the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities Initiative would come under a broader banner of Sustainable East Lothian and would be a notable stepping stone for the County with regard to plastics.
Schools: recycling facilities in all school dining halls and all other council premises
Sustainable procurement: look at what we purchase, the supply-chains and the ‘carbon footprint By addressing Council procurement you have an opportunity to to a) address single use plastic but also b) to address other areas of non-renewable resource use and waste minimisation.
“Green Travel Plan for Council staff.” Yes, and contracted organisations such as Enjoy Leisure.
“Support schools to introduce ‘Bikeability’ training, to teach children to cycle safely on roads” Yes, communities can support this roll out as currently happens in some schools.
“Support the 'Eco Schools' programme in East Lothian schools”. Yes, but support needs to be active with greater input from other agencies and organisations. A county wide programme could be delivered to support schools and teachers in delivery of this.
“Investigate 'carbon off-setting', such as tree planting, where appropriate’’. Yes, wherever possible. Trees sequester carbon and create shade, providing cooling to the local environment.
“Look into the re-use / re-purposing of office furniture.” Support existing initiatives through donation – eg zero waste dunbar, wee red upcycles etc to support East Lothian’s circular economy.
Whilst we welcome the above options, we feel they look at narrow view of sustainability, where we believe the Local Authority has a responsibility to look at all areas of its business and find steps to greater sustainability. As an organisation you should be an exemplar of a sustainable business. This is a challenging proposition but one you should be brave about tackling. It won’t happen overnight but if you do not set out with some greater ambition it will not happen at all. We would like to see Sustainable East Lothian as an example to other local authorities of good practice. The level of ambition should be more at the level of ‘East Lothian will move its towns to a zero waste and carbon neutral status’ and develop a strategy to do so.
The Council should focus, in terms of its own estate, on
Resources & Waste minimisation (including plastics) via sustainable procurement and waste management systems. Work towards more joined up public services to minimise wasted resource and maximise impact
Transport – green transport should be promoted throughout the county and the facilities and services required to implement this explored. Council staff should lead by example.
Food sources (& food waste) – supporting local food economies, reducing transport distance and intensive food production (and consequent carbon emissions and chemical load on the environment).
Positive action – the actions that can be undertaken to bring about positive change such as completing the Local Biodiversity Action Plan and implementing the recommendations therein. Building resilience into our natural processes by restoring a healthy environment is a critical part of climate change mitigation eg greater vegetation cover can slow heavy rain waters and minimise flooding down stream.
The Council should undertake statutory obligations (e.g. building control) more diligently with regard to all aspects of sustainability. Place making & Planning policy should reflect sustainability goals.
All future spending programmes should pass a sustainability audit to ensure that all negative impacts are mitigated and all positive impacts pursued and maximised where possible. Any events that the Council supports should also meet the same sustainability audit requirements, such as demonstrating what actions they are taking towards zero waste (no more bottled water from Poland, or water bottles chucked away during races).
Similarly a review of existing spending programmes could be undertaken to see what easy wins might be achieved.
What else could the Council do, working in partnership, to assist East Lothian's communities?
The Council needs to commit sufficient resources to this matter. Whilst we accept that budgetary pressures make this hard, there has never been more urgency in the need to act to minimise climate change and mitigate its impacts on our environment (and therefore on us). The loss of the post of Local Biodiversity Officer is a significant blow to protecting natural resources.
The Council should act as a proactive communicator and sign-poster, or contract another organisation such as LiL CIC, to advocate for existing resources and support (i.e. to those organisations that can locally provide advice, guidance and support/funding for actions such as energy efficiency via Changeworks). Resources already exist to support homeowners in particular but there is no proactive promotion of these. Guidance should be provided to home owners on reducing waste and improving resource efficiency.
The continued improvement of superfast broadband to enable more home working and less travel is vital. The development of local ‘hot desk ‘ offices with good facilities would also encourage more local working and support our towns by increased expenditure locally.
The Council could roll out Carbon Literacy training to residents, students and businesses. Greater support should be given through business gateway or similar in supporting businesses from the outset to consider their sustainability, to share best practice and inspire action across the County. Running a sustainable business is a course that can be added to the range of business gateway courses provided. Lil would be happy to discuss delivery of this for you.
You should build capacity and leadership in communities to foster the delivery of community-led activities that deliver positive climate change outcomes and improve local quality of life. This should include investigating the pathways to assist citizens to adopt more sustainable and healthy food habits, including the potential to reduce meat consumption to sustainable levels. This should in turn provide support for local, low intensity producers who support biodiversity through their farming practices. Eating less meat means savings that can help to pay for better meat. The Council should investigate outside grants to support this, but also make a challenge fund available locally.
Greenspaces and street planting have a role in carbon sequestration and local cooling. A forward strategy for these elements within our streetscapes in particular will be valuable. Green and blue infrastructure is important to citizen wellbeing, biodiversity, food security and carbon sequestration. Does East Lothian have a strategy to support the positive management of this resource?
All activities seeking licences, permits or permission to take place in East Lothian should be required to cut single use plastic entirely and strongly encouraged to attempt a zero waste activity and demonstrate carbon reduction strategies.
. How can East Lothian Council, and its local community partners, achieve these ideas? Can you help?
Lead by example. Look to your estate and your procurement. Minimise resources use and waste.
As above, the Council needs to lead on a sustainability network of all interested parties to better support climate change mitigation - and to do it in a speedy fashion. The recent IPCC climate change report shows we only have until 2030 to keep climate change to a 1.5 degree increase - otherwise we could lose whole ecosystems. This would also see increases in storminess, floods and adverse weather, which could have a devastating impact on East Lothian's harbours, fishing, agriculture, tourism, hospitality and other industries - not to mention residents.
As the Local Authority you are ideally placed to take on a catalytic role in developing those partnerships and delivery mechanisms to drive action by individuals and businesses in the area. Establish an East Lothian Climate Change Partnership with representation from all sectors of our society.
Provide information and support for residents, communities and businesses and share best practice to help inspire action across the county. Initially this should be about pulling together existing resources, assessing the gaps and then filling them.
Develop a Sustainable East Lothian Web resources – bringing all partners together in a virtual team to work more closely and create a one stop shop for businesses and individuals to find relevant local advice and resources. There is much action at a community level that needs to be pulled together. This would also facilitate monitoring and reporting progress internally and externally.
Provide information and support for schools and colleges, and share best practice to help inspire action across the county.
Across the universities activities embed action on climate change as a core activity:
- Teaching and student experience – to create carbon literate graduates with strong prospects and routes to employment.
- Research – to help create innovative solutions to climate change and track the county’s progress.
- Estates and processes – towards becoming leading zero carbon, zero waste, climate resilient organisations
We are Lower Impact Living (LiL) CIC - a social enterprise set up to support sustainability and zero waste living in East Lothian and we would be keen to support/work with the Council and other interested networks & groups. We work with individuals and businesses to support and reward their efforts in sustainability. We are currently looking at county wide initiatives to implement this.
This vision needs to be update and strengthened to reflect that climate change is an imminent threat affecting East Lothian and the wider world now.
‘Sustainable East Lothian will be a place that social equity underpinned by sustainability in every Council action; and by doing so, ensuring the next generation has the resources they need to thrive.
We will be Scotland's first plastic free county.
We will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with interim reduction measures of 56% by 2020 and 77% by 2030.