As a council, we are committed to working with you to tackle the effects of climate change in our area. In 2021, we adopted our Climate Emergency Action Plan, in which we set a target of a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions year on year until 2025 for both the council and for the Chichester District as a whole.

I'm pleased to tell you that as a council we have already taken a series of actions towards this aim and I wanted to update you on our progress.

The recent rise in energy costs has affected everyone. We are helping to reduce fuel poverty and excess cold by offering financial assistance towards the cost of energy efficiency improvements for homeowners and landlords if a property is occupied by someone on a low income and the property has a low energy performance certificate rating. We have also recently launched a communications campaign to encourage people to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes, which will not only help the environment, but also help you to save money on your energy bills. Helping you to improve the energy efficiency of your home is a key focus for us and there are a variety of grants available to assist you with this. You can find out more about this  on the Arun and Chichester Citizen's Advice energy advice page or by calling 01243 974063

Introducing electric vehicles across our council fleet is also a priority. Two of our four parking services vehicles are fully electric and we are in the process of purchasing two electric vehicles and electric bikes for our staff to use for council business. This is a pilot scheme and if successful, the fleet of pool cars will be expanded. We are also introducing two electric refuse vehicles to collect your waste and recycling!

Carbon emissions from Westgate Leisure Centre will reduce by almost a quarter after we successfully bid for a £1.3 million government decarbonisation grant, and we are now reviewing the options for our other buildings. We've already opened brand new short stay accommodation offering 17 new flats with lots of eco-friendly measures. While our £6 million redeveloped industrial estate has been designed to limit its carbon emissions and has solar panels fitted on the roofs of the buildings.

We've funded computer training for the residents of Petworth to give them confidence in carrying out transactions and communicating online from their own home. And we're working with our partners in Selsey to raise awareness of walks in the area using QR codes. While in Midhurst we are working with our partners to create a better pedestrian-friendly and greener environment through traffic measures, increased planting, and a new wayfinding system, as well as providing a £12,000 grant to help improve cycling facilities.

We've also provided 8,000 free trees to the local community, schools and businesses to plant across the district, and we have planted three mini urban forests in Chichester, Midhurst and Selsey. Seven grants have also been awarded to landowners to spend on tree planting initiatives on farms and private land. In addition, we are launching a ground breaking project that aims to safeguard and enhance strategic wildlife corridors.

Recycling is also key and so we have introduced a new kerbside collection trial to help people recycling their old textiles, small electrical items and used coffee pods - and we will shortly be announcing further improvements to this scheme.

These are just some of the projects that we are working on. To find out more about how you can help play your part in making a big difference to our environment, please visit our Climate Change web page.

Best Wishes

Cllr Penny Plant

Cabinet Member for the Environment at Chichester District Council