Plans to help tackle climate change and protect the environment are pushing forward as Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) continues with the implementation of its Climate Emergency Action Plan.

The council declared a climate emergency in September 2019, and has to report back on progress to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSCOM) every six months.

TVBC noted it had made a number of steps towards a greener future, having purchased three new bin lorries with electric lifts that save two tonnes of carbon a year; installing more energy-efficient lighting in the Chantry Centre car park and heating at Beech Hurst and buying energy from a scheme which guarantees the electricity used is generated from renewable sources.

The chair of OSCOM, Councillor Zilliah Brooks, said: “The last 12 months has been anything but ordinary, however we have remained as committed as ever to finding ways to cut back on our carbon output as an authority. These latest developments are testament to the hard work of our officers over the past few months, but we’re also making sure to look ahead and not let up on our efforts.”

TVBC declared a climate emergency in 2019, with the subsequent action plan being approved in June 2020. A number of steps have been taken during this time, including slashing paper usage by making more bills electronic, and printing fewer documents.

In January, it appointed Cllr Neil Gwynne to be its first climate emergency member champion, who will advise the cabinet and conduct research on climate impacts in the borough

In the latest update to OSCOM, the council noted there were still steps to take in its action plan. For instance, work to update how the council procures goods and services to ensure they are ethical and sustainable has yet to be carried out.

However, other steps have taken place, including the completion of a study on renewable and low carbon energy potential will help contribute to the next local plan, as TVBC works towards settings out the future planning policies.

Businesses have also been included, with the authority working together with external organisations to help local businesses secure more than £100,000 in grant funding to undertake energy audits and launch low carbon projects of their own.

Environmental portfolio holder, Cllr Alison Johnston, said: “This latest set of developments are brilliant, however the crucial part is that we are planning for the future in ensuring our carbon output remains low. One of the key parts in this is the local plan as we look to set out our planning policies for the environment for the next few years.”