Report to:                   Cabinet

Date of meeting:        30 September 2021

By:                                        Director of Communities, Economy and Transport & Chief Operating Officer

Title:                            Annual progress report to Full Council on the County Council’s progress towards net zero

Purpose:                     To consider the progress report.


RECOMMENDATION: Cabinet is recommended to note the progress that has been achieved to date against the agreed Action plan and the Scrutiny Review Recommendations



1           Background


1.1       In October 2019 the County Council declared a climate emergency.  It set a target of achieving carbon neutrality from its activities as soon as possible and in any event by 2050 and committed to reporting annually to Full Council on its progress towards meeting this target. Section 2 of this report sets out the draft progress report, which will be presented to Full Council on the 12 October.



2        Supporting Information


           2.1          In October 2019 the County Council agreed the following Motion, that the County Council:

(i) supports the aims and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

(ii) recognises and declares a Climate Emergency.

(iii) will set a target of achieving carbon neutrality from its activities as soon as possible and in any event by 2050, in line with the new target for the UK agreed by Parliament in 2019.

(iv) will build upon the work we have undertaken to date, will commit resources where possible and will align our policies to address the Climate Emergency.

(v) will set out a clear plan of action to reduce our carbon emissions.

(vi) will report annually at the May County Council Meeting on its progress towards the target.

(vii) will investigate all possible sources of external funding and match funding to support this commitment, as well as writing to central government with respect to the emergency to request funding to implement swift appropriate actions.

(viii) will use our Environment Strategy to provide a strong unified voice in lobbying for support to address this emergency, sharing best practice across East Sussex and more widely through other partners.

2.2       In line with the commitment made in the Motion agreed in 2019, the County Council developed a Climate Emergency Action Plan to set out how the organisation would go about reducing its carbon emissions. The Action Plan was agreed by Cabinet in June 2020 and built on work undertaken since the first Carbon Management Plan was put in place in 2009. The Action Plan set out the scale of the carbon footprint, described the carbon budget that the Council will aim to keep within, and proposed an initial two-year delivery plan for 2020-22.


Assessing the Council’s carbon emissions


2.3       A clear understanding of the carbon emissions generated by our activities is a key foundation for working towards carbon neutrality. The corporate Action Plan set out an initial assessment of the carbon emissions from the Council’s activities using the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, an accepted global standard for measuring and reporting on an organisation’s GHG emissions. The Protocol divides GHG emissions into three categories, referred to as Scope 1, 2 and 3. Together, these represent the total GHG emissions related to an organisation and its activities. Each scope covers the following emissions:

·         Scope 1 – emissions from the combustion of gas, oil, petrol, diesel, coal, or wood. For the Council this covers buildings and vehicles where the Council is responsible for paying for the fuel.

·         Scope 2 – emissions from the electricity purchased by the Council.

·         Scope 3 – emissions that result from all other activities of the Council. There are 15 different scope 3 categories defined in the Protocol, some of which do not apply to a local authority (e.g., emissions from manufactured goods). The categories that do apply include emissions from business travel, water usage, waste, procurement and staff commuting. In other words, the County Council’s scope 3 emissions mostly comprise the scope 1 and 2 emissions of other organisations (e.g., contractors).


2.4       The County Council has measured scope 1, 2 and some scope 3 emissions since 2008-9. Data in relation to scope 1 and 2 is of higher quality whereas data in relation to most scope 3 emissions is much more varied in detail and quality. The Action Plan highlights that scope 3 emissions are by far the largest part of the Council’s estimated carbon footprint, notably through the supply chain i.e., the goods and services that are purchased by the County Council in order to deliver its functions. This is typical for a local authority, as most of the Council’s revenue and capital budgets are used to procure goods, services and works from third parties. For an upper tier authority this includes major services such as highways maintenance, waste disposal, and education, as well as social care provision commissioned from a myriad of relatively small independent providers.  The Action Plan also highlights that the largest proportion of scope 1 and 2 emissions is from schools. Overall, this means that the majority of carbon emissions generated by the Council’s activities are from sources over which the Council has influence but limited direct control.


2.5       The County Council therefore has a large and complex carbon footprint which is larger than that of all the East Sussex District and Borough Councils combined. Further work is required to quantify most scope 3 emissions before they can begin to be integrated reliably into the Council’s carbon footprint and modelled for future emission reductions, notably from procurement.  Consequently, the Action Plan focusses primarily on reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions first, for example carbon emissions from buildings, and investing in more renewable energy. This is a similar approach to that adopted by all the East Sussex District and Borough Councils that have a carbon action plan in place.  



Working towards carbon neutrality from our activities


2.6       The approach adopted in the Action Plan is that, in order to make its fair contribution to reducing county-wide emissions, the County Council will aim to cut its own emissions by 13% per year. This is based on a recognised methodology developed by the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research for calculating the carbon budget by local authority area.  A carbon budget represents the total quantity of greenhouse gases which can be released to the atmosphereif we are to contain temperature rises to a given level – this can be calculated globally and then broken down into national and sub-national budgets. The Tyndall model, based on current scientific understanding, indicates that to stay within a budget based on a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels (as set out in the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change) requires cutting emissions from East Sussex by an average of about 13% per year.


2.7       This 13% science-based annual reduction target is what the County Council is working towards, rather than a fixed end date by which it will become carbon neutral. This approach is in line with advice to Councils from the Local Government Association, which has stated that: “There is no science to picking an end year where emissions are zero. Setting a target year by which emissions will be zero can be symbolically important. However, what counts is the trajectory of the commitments to carbon reduction between now and the target zero emissions year. This defines the actual level of emissions reduction being promised over the budget period. This is what matters to climate change”.     


             2.8          Achieving a reduction target of 13% per year, every year, is extremely challenging.  The County Council has had a significant programme of activity in place to cut carbon emissions for a number of years, during which time it has occasionally exceeded a 13% reduction per year in its scope 1 and 2 emissions.  In 2020-21 The County Council achieved a 13% reduction in its carbon emissions. A summary of the data is included in appendix 1, including some of the planned work and how we track our progress against the 13% per year reduction target.  Appendix 2 sets out the progress, more broadly, that has been made to date against the Action Plan and combines this with the recommendations from the 2020 Scrutiny Review of Becoming a Carbon Neutral Council (see paragraph 2.9).  The Action Plan will be reviewed during 2021-22 and an updated 2-year plan will be developed to cover 2022-24.


             2.9          It is likely to become more costly and complex to reach this target over time as the ‘quick wins’ – the more cost effective and simpler measures, and those which are within the Council’s direct control - are completed. Officers have successfully bid for additional external funding to increase the County Council’s ability to deliver greater carbon reduction (e.g., £480k in 2021-22 to deliver projects under the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund). In addition, work is on-going to establish what further resources the County Council could allocate to meeting this ambitious target.  This will include modelling of the different scenarios as to how the County Council might get to net zero, by when and the potential range of costs of each scenario. The modelling depends on a number of factors, including the size of the County Council’s buildings estate, and related transport emissions, post-COVID. The work to determine this is currently in progress.


             2.10        In 2020-21 the Place Scrutiny Committee undertook a Scrutiny Review of Becoming a Carbon Neutral Council. The review looked at the work underway to progress towards net zero emissions from the Council’s activities and made a number of recommendations which were accepted and are being implemented in line with the agreed action plan.  Appendix 2 includes a summary of progress to date against the agreed recommendations and the Climate Emergency Action Plan.  Of the combined 37 actions, 5 (13%) have been completed, 28 (76%) are on-going and 4 (11%) have not yet started. This highlights that there is a need for additional resources to help drive the actions forward and that some of the actions will be delivered over a number of years (e.g., behavioural change programmes).  Proposals for additional resource capacity are being developed and will be considered through the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process.


             2.11        Contracts with external providers make up the largest proportion of our carbon footprint, as part of Scope 3 emissions.  The Council can influence emissions from our supply chain by requiring carbon reduction targets when renewing relevant contracts, which is the approach adopted in the re-procurement of the current highway’s maintenance contract. Many smaller contractors and suppliers will not have data on their emissions, or will have relatively small-scale emissions, or do not have the capital funding available to make the significant changes required to reduce their emissions. Addressing the emissions from our large and diverse supply chain is therefore a complex and significant task which will take time.  Consequently, the Council will focus on contractors and suppliers where the likely scale of their emissions and the ability of the Council to influence these emissions are greatest, for instance where the Council is a major client.


2.12        Until we are able to measure and report on our scope 3 supply chain emissions more accurately (and therefore know where and how to better influence these emissions), we are measuring and reporting on our performance against a 13% p.a. reduction target for scope 1 and 2 emissions. This is monitored and reported quarterly to the Officer Climate Emergency Board, which has representatives from every department and is co-chaired by the Chief Operating Officer and the Director for Communities, Economy and Transport. Progress is also reported quarterly in the County Council’s strategic risk register, as well as annually to Full Council.



3        Conclusion and Reasons for Recommendations

3.1          The Council has recognised the severity of the climate crisis by declaring a climate emergency and setting a clear and evidence-based trajectory towards net zero from its activities. The scale of the Council’s functions and the diversity of providers the Council works with makes this a complex and substantial task. Significant work has already been undertaken to reduce emissions and this has been built upon by the Climate Emergency Action Plan which is driving the next phase and has been further informed by the recent Scrutiny Review. This progress report sets out what has been achieved to date against the agreed Action Plan and the Scrutiny review recommendations.



Chief Operating Officer



Director of Communities, Economy and Transport

Contact Officer: Andy Arnold

Tel. 01273 481606.















Appendix 1 – What ESCC has achieved so far and next steps (September 2021)

What ESCC has achieved so far


Between 2008-9 and 2020-21 the County Council has reduced its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 66%. This has been achieved through a number of measures, including:


1. Changes to the way we work, for example through the Agile and SPACES programmes. The Agile programme has enabled staff to work flexibly from a range of sites, including home, and so enable a reduced number, and more efficient use of, buildings which enable a reduction in travel through staff being able to be connected whilst working remotely, and enable a more efficient use of the organisation’s buildings. The SPACES programme (“Strategic Property Asset Collaboration in East Sussex”) is a partnership of public bodies and third sector organisations established in 2013 to seek better use of the public sector estate.


2. Improved and more energy efficient connectivity, for instance through moving to the Surrey Data Centre.


3. Encouraging behaviour change, for example by providing the ICT equipment, tools and support to enable Members and staff to work digitally and providing discounted bus travel and season-ticket loans to encourage the use of public transport.


4. Installing a number of energy efficiency measures in ESCC buildings and street lighting through the £1.025m Salix invest-to-save fund and County Council maintenance budgets, including replacing all the windows at County Hall. Salix has funded nearly 300 projects worth £3.8m, generating annual savings of over £850,000.


5. Installing 1.4MW of renewable energy generation on buildings, mostly on schools.


6. Requiring energy efficiency improvements in key contracts, for example including performance indicators for street lighting and business mileage within the current highways contract.


7. Changing our approach to procurement to enable more goods and services to be delivered by local businesses, which reduces the transport impact of our supply chain.


8. The Council has recently procured a new framework for the provision of electricity for corporate buildings, schools and street lighting. This allows electricity to be supplied from renewable sources, independently certified through the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme (REGOs). This started from 1 April 2020 for an initial period of at least 12 months and is likely to continue, subject to availability and price. This applies to corporate sites and has been offered to schools. Please note that the purchase of green electricity is not counted towards ESCC’s carbon reduction target, on the basis that it is recognised good practice to work to reduce energy usage first, followed by improving energy efficiency, then investing in renewable energy, and finally to procure green electricity.


9. Case study example: Buxted Primary School, energy efficient lighting:

·         Fluorescent lamps were replaced with energy efficient LED lamps, improved controls and emergency lighting across the school estate.

·         The changes cost £15,000 and led to a 17% reduction in electricity use, which saved £1,500 and 5 tonnes of CO2 per year.

·         Feedback from the school: “We undertook the new lighting project throughout our school building and the results have been very good…overall we are very pleased with our new lighting.”  Bursar at Buxted C of E Primary, May 2020.

Carbon reduction in 2020/21

In 2020/21:

·         Buildings accounted for 79% of scope 1 and 2 emissions, with schools being the largest share. Corporate buildings include all non-school buildings.

·         Heating made up 60% of building emissions.

·         ESCC’s fleet CO2 emissions were down 19% compared with 2019-20 due to reduced mileage.












·         Covid 19 impact: April to September 2020 saw a 25% reduction in energy use compared with the previous year. October 2020 to March 2021 saw energy use increase by 3%, as schools re-opened and buildings were heated but required increased ventilation, in line with central government guidance, to provide Covid secure building environments.   Overall total energy use was down 6%.


·         Scope 1 & 2 CO2 emissions:fell 13% in 2020-21 compared with 2019-20 (by 1,672 tonnes), keeping ESCC within its carbon budget.


Looking forward


As schools and staff gradually return to normal, we anticipate an increase in energy usage and carbon emissions compared with last year.

Projects underway in 2021/22 to reduce ESCC’s carbon emissions include:

·         Continue to deliver the communications plan to Members and staff.

Monitoring and reporting of progress

The target is to reduce emissions by an average of 13% per year. Until we are able to measure and report on our scope 3 emissions more accurately, and therefore know where and how to better influence these emissions, we are measuring and reporting on our performance against a 13% p.a. reduction target for scope 1 and 2 emissions. This is monitored and reported quarterly to the Officer Climate Emergency Board, which has representatives from every department and is co-chaired by the Chief Operating Officer and the Director for Communities, Economy and Transport. Progress is also reported quarterly in the County Council’s strategic risk register and annually to Full Council.

Appendix 2 – Progress against the Action Plan and Scrutiny Review recommendations



Climate Action Plan 2020-22

Scrutiny Review recommendations 2021


Progress update


Framework (governance, leadership, communications, data, policy & partnership working):


Set up robust governance: Establish a senior Officer board to oversee delivery of this plan.

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)


Officer board set up in July 2020. Co-chaired by Chief Operating Officer and Director of CET, with representatives from every department.


Develop a communications plan: Set out clear messages and comms routes, Member and staff engagement, & integrate public engagement via the Environment Strategy

15 a) Develop an interactive communication/information platform, which includes details on what the Council itself is doing on climate change and to discuss opportunities where residents may take an active role in lowering community carbon emissions


A climate change communications plan was agreed by CMT in March 2021 and is being implemented (e.g. press releases, Yammer articles, staff newsletter, website updates, promotion of Solar Sussex Together to residents). This work is now part of business as usual.


Improve greenhouse gas (GHG) baseline data: a) Update ESCC’s GHG data management plan and improve transparency by explaining the methods, data, processes, assumptions, estimates, changes and quality checks used.
b) Obtain more accurate GHG data for staff commuting, priority suppliers and renewables already installed at schools.

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

In progress

a) The Orbis Energy Team have developed a documented process on what detailed annual GHG data is collated, how and from where.  b) Covid and the work on Future Work Styles has altered staff commuting, so data will be collated once a new 'normal' has become established. c) More accurate data is being requested from some large suppliers, notably as contracts are re-procured, and better quality data is in the process of being collected on renewable energy installations and to capture energy generation and export data. 


Review ESCC’s policies, strategies, programmes, projects and practice to align with the climate emergency: policy should provide clear and stable direction and a simple set of rules that supports corporate climate change mitigation and adaptation

 16a) Business case evaluation and procurement decisions should include an assessment of the carbon impact of the proposal.

In progress

Discussions have been had with other local authorities to see whether there are tried and tested examples of good practice that ESCC could learn from, and discussions are also being held with the University of Sussex and with the Carbon Trust.  The outcome of this work will inform updated corporate report writing guidance to provide appropriate advice to report authors.


16 b) Reports that go to the Executive and Council should include an assessment or statement of the carbon emissions impact of the proposals/decision in the report where relevant and material.

In progress

As above


Work in partnership with other organisations to share resources & good practice: continue to work with all Sussex local authorities on developing organisational and area-wide carbon plans.

15b) The Council to use its convening power to co- ordinate the actions it is taking on climate change with its partners, and in particular with the District and Borough Councils in East Sussex.

In progress

The Council hosts the East Sussex Environment Board, which is one of the sub boards to Team East Sussex and leads on delivering the East Sussex Environment Strategy. The Strategy includes a commitment to develop a road map to net zero for the county, which is being developed with a range of partners, including through regular meetings with the District and Borough Councils.


Work with SE7 partners on climate change.

17) The Council lobbies Government at a national level via ADEPT and the South East 7 partnership, to amend the planning system and building regulations so that the carbon performance of new buildings, including school buildings, can be taken into account in planning decisions.

In progress

The Building Regulations are a separate regulatory framework to the planning system. The planning system allows local planning authorities to require energy efficiency standards that exceeds the minimum requirements of the Building Regulations where there are Local Plan policies in place to do so. Both the planning system and Building regulations are being reviewed by government. In October 2020 the Council responded to the Planning for the Future White Paper expressing the need for the planning reforms to complement climate change targets, and we continue to work with networks such as ADEPT to lobby government for change. New school project designs now reflect increased focus on climate change priorities and how this is informing the new 10 year capital programme.


Produce an annual progress report: report to County Council each September on progress and identify additional resources that may be required

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

In progress

This is the first annual report to the Council on progress against the climate emergency declaration


Emissions from buildings:





Behaviour change programme – corporate: develop an engagement plan to create an energy-aware culture amongst staff and Members & develop a network of climate emergency champions to accelerate change

15 a) Develop an interactive communication/information platform, which includes details on what the Council itself is doing on climate change and to discuss opportunities where residents may take an active role in lowering community carbon emissions

In progress

A climate change communications plan was agreed by CMT in March 2021 and is being implemented (e.g. press releases, Yammer articles, staff newsletter, website updates, promotion of Solar Sussex Together to residents). This work is now part of business as usual.


Behaviour change programme - schools: update & disseminate the energy saving guide for schools.

4 a) The Council, in conjunction with maintained schools, should publish comparative data on energy efficiency (e.g. league tables and energy performance), set a carbon reduction target and encourage engagement with pupils in learning projects and activities to reduce carbon emissions

In progress

 The Council holds the relevant energy data, however the energy performance of schools varies for a number of reasons, which means that it would not be possible to compare schools on a like-for-like basis. It would also be complex and costly to try to set school-specific carbon reduction targets, therefore it’s recommended that schools should be encouraged to aim for a 13% per year carbon reduction target, in line with the Council’s overall target and the target for the county.
There’s long been engagement with schools on energy reduction, energy efficiency and renewables, for instance through the promotion of ESCC's energy fund and assisting the Youth Cabinet to develop a school energy auditing tool. The Council will facilitate sharing best practice amongst schools on carbon efficiency via various forums


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

3) a) The Council to consider through the RPPR process opportunities for capital funding within the core capital programme to carry out carbon reduction projects in its corporate buildings, notably building fabric improvements, and lobbies Government for additional funding in this area.

In progress

The Council has invested capital in carbon reduction projects for a number of years and is working on additional proposals through the RPP&R process this year.  The Council has engaged with, and been encouraged to provide feedback to, BEIS and MHCLG on the need for consistent and long-term funding from government to enable local authorities to take further action.


Planned Maintenance & Capital programmes: 1) Establish a robust process for identifying, prioritising and delivering projects.
2) Prepare an annual programme of energy efficiency projects linked to the maintenance and capital programmes.
3) deliver a pipeline of whole-building energy efficiency projects.

3b) In developing energy efficiency projects, the Council should take a whole building approach, which is based on whole life costings.

In progress

Updates to the County Council’s Capital Strategy in February 2021 included the emerging relevance of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations.  The Strategy will now be further updated to support the County Council’s climate emergency declaration. Work to tackle climate change has become a part of the Council’s core business due to national legislation and is a key priority for the Council, therefore opportunities for investment will be considered as a basic need.


6) The Council to review the payback periods used for major building refurbishment projects and adjusts the provision of capital funding for carbon reduction projects to enable more work in this area to be carried out based on whole life costings.

In progress


Install low carbon heating in buildings to replace gas and oil boilers: review boiler replacement programme and assess options for replacing with heat pumps

1) Priority consideration should be given to the implementation of low carbon heating systems, e.g. the use of ground source and air source heat pumps, in all newly commissioned buildings and when renewing systems in existing buildings. The most energy efficient type of heat pump currently available should be used where possible (e.g. ground source, then air source heat pumps). 

In progress

To ensure that the costs and benefits of any potential project is balanced with the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) implications of carbon reduction initiatives, the following will be considered as part of the Council's Capital Strategy:
1) Energy efficiency measures at the start of any capital project and included in the whole project costs when establishing a business case. 2) Where possible, ESG schemes to be integrated within existing funded programmes, e.g. boiler replacement programme with low carbon replacements as part of the capital building maintenance programme. 3) The specific technology to be deployed (e.g. heat pumps etc) will be dependent on a range of factors including the age, type of building and its levels of insulation/heat retention. 4) A whole building approach to include whole life costings which will range from shorter to longer term pay back periods. It may be possible to use short term savings to subsidise longer term improvements. This will include building fabric improvements and also greater awareness of energy efficient use of buildings by end users.


4 b) The Council consider through the RPPR process providing capital funding for a pilot project to install heat pump technology in one of the County’s maintained schools as a best practice case study.

In progress

Funding from the national Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund was secured in 2021 to carry out a whole-building energy retrofit to Ninfield primary school, including the installation of heat pumps.  This work will be completed, largely in summer 2022.


2) The Council should keep the use of hydrogen gas heating technology under review and ensure all new or replacement boilers are capable of being ‘hydrogen ready’.

In progress

Currently, it is not possible to source “hydrogen ready” boilers.  The government is due to publish a heat decarbonisation plan in the near future, which may help ESCC to plan for a transition to hydrogen boilers. In the meantime, ESCC is an active member of Hydrogen Sussex, which works with a range of partner organisations to understand and prepare for the emerging hydrogen economy.


New build: ensure the 2008 ESCC sustainable buildings policy is being implemented and report on its effectiveness. 

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

Not started

During 2020/21 there was no staff capacity to take this forward. However, given the policy and carbon incentives to decarbonise heat and, following a successful bid to the government’s Low Carbon Skills fund, a consultant was appointed to produce a corporate decarbonisation of heat plan, including desktop studies for 24 sites to extrapolate and give estimated costs for our building portfolio to reach net zero.


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

5) The Council lobbies the Department for Education to provide sufficient funding for new schools to be built to a carbon neutral standard and provide funding for major improvements to retrofit energy efficiency and carbon reduction measures to all school buildings.

In progress

The Council has engaged with, and been encouraged to provide feedback to, BEIS and MHCLG on the need for consistent and long-term funding from government to enable local authorities to take further action.


Emissions from street lighting:





Improve energy efficiency – street lighting: a) Install energy efficient LED lights.
b) Review dimming and switch-off policy.

7) The Council should: a) Explore the scope for further energy savings by reducing the amount of time street lights are on through ongoing maintenance and replacement programmes. b) Explore the use of alternative technologies such as solar and wind turbines for less essential lit signs and other street furniture. c) Keep the use of intelligent lighting systems for street lighting under review and install intelligent lighting in the car parks and campus at the County Hall campus as an example of best practice.

In progress

a) The Council is in an 18 month programme to replace the remaining 16,000 sodium lamps with very low energy LED lamps, which will reduce carbon emissions by a further 600 tonnes per year. We will continue to explore further reductions through part night lighting and we will work with communities to apply this where appropriate, though this needs to be balanced with public safety.  b) The Council has installed a number of solar powered signs in the past but they have not proved to be reliable. However, as technology and reliability improve, we will continue to explore the use of these technologies for use across our lit network. c) A review of intelligent street lighting systems was undertaken by a consultant in summer 2020 and concluded that they would not provide carbon savings or a financial return. Savings were better achieved by programming the new lighting units to switch off at night as they are installed and where this is approved. As intelligent lighting technology matures so the costs are likely to decrease, so the use of intelligent lighting systems will be reviewed again in 2022-23. County Hall campus lighting was upgraded in 2016. The lamps have in¬built daylight sensors and the main car park lights have lamps that are programmed to dim overnight between midnight and 5am. A data logger was used in November 2020 to confirm that dimming is taking place, which brings a saving of about 45%.


Emissions from transport, including commuting:





Grey fleet review: commission review by the Energy Savings Trust.

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)


A grey fleet review was completed by the Energy Savings Trust in 2020 and is being used to inform the development of the staff travel plan (see below).


Develop and implement a staff travel plan: to cover both business mileage and commuting.

8 a) explore more varied patterns of working to determine what is the best level of remote working from a staff perspective and for the Council to meet its business needs and reduce carbon emissions. b) Work is undertaken to support cultural change to embed changes in working practices that reduce the need to travel, or encourages less travel, such as the use of technology to hold meetings remotely and provide training using remote meeting technology. c) The Council explores the provision of more capacity for drop-in centres / hot desking and collaboration space in regional offices so staff do not always need to travel into the main office buildings, including County Hall, as part of the future workplace planning arrangements. d) The Council investigate the introduction of hybrid committee meetings where councillors can either attend remotely or in person.

In progress

The development of a staff travel plan is being commissioned from a specialist consultancy.  This will be informed by the review of Future Workstyles that was completed during the summer.  The staff travel plan work will review the policies and incentives currently in place (e.g. existing flexible working arrangements) and put forward costed recommendations for addressing the points raised in the Scrutiny review, alongside other staff travel items (e.g. electric vehicles).


9 a) The Staff Travel Plan is revised to encourage, and where appropriate consideration is given to the potential for incentivising, the use of other travel modes (e.g. walking, cycling and public transport) and the uptake of Electric Vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.

In progress


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

9 b) The Council considers lobbying the Department for Transport to make changes to season tickets for train and bus travel so they can be used flexibly by staff commuting to work


The Flexi Season ticket was introduced nationally in June 2021. It offers 8 days of travel in 28 days, any time, between two stations.


Install EV charge points: Identify where to locate which types & number of chargers, and delivery mechanism, for staff & visitor use

10) Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points are installed at the main office buildings, or at least County Hall, with a plan agreed by the end of March 2021. 

In progress

In March 2021 Cabinet agreed for the Council to explore options for procuring EV charge points on the corporate estate and the highway network.  An internal team has been established to take this forward, including looking at our own fleet and the car lease scheme, and a new post of EV officer has been agreed and the recruitment has started. The Council is part of a network of transport authorities (KCC, BHCC, WSCC and SCC) that share information on their respective approaches to EVs. SPACES are also inputting to the process.


 11a) Smaller own fleet vehicles should be replaced by EVs in the short term when the leases expire. 11b) Review the car lease scheme to encourage staff to select low emission or zero emission vehicles.

In progress


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

12) The Council should keep the market for larger hydrogen powered vehicles under review, with a view to undertaking early pilot schemes and eventually phasing out the diesel-powered larger vehicles in its fleet in line with Government policy.

In progress

The Council is an active member of Hydrogen Sussex, which works with a range of partner organisations to understand and prepare for the emerging hydrogen economy. The Council submitted a joint bid for £12.8m to DfT’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas Scheme to help purchase 37 hydrogen buses with BHCC and Brighton & Hove Buses but was unsuccessful.


Emissions from water & waste:





Reduce waste: consider requiring all sites to sign up to the same waste contract & set up food waste collections from all kitchen areas.

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

In progress

These actions will deliver relatively modest carbon savings and there is currently limited staff capacity to take these forward.  The Property Contracts team have made some progress, working with waste contractors to widen provision of recycling and food waste services to schools.


Reduce water usage: Install water efficient fittings in all appropriate toilets, urinals, taps & showers



(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

Not started

These actions will deliver relatively modest carbon savings and there is currently not the staff capacity to take these forward. Scope has been identified for awareness raising amongst Property FM managers and controllers of premises to enable low/no cost actions.


Emissions from procurement:





Engage priority suppliers: a) obtain scope 1 & 2 GHG footprints of transport & construction contracts above >£1m p.a.
b) embed low carbon outcomes into new contracts including low/zero emission vehicles.

11 c) The Council to consider specifying the early use of low emission vehicles in the procurement of major contracts (e.g. the Highways maintenance contract), where feasible

In progress

The Council is working with a few suppliers to gauge the ability of different markets to measure their greenhouse gas footprints and is working on requiring low carbon outcomes from high value contracts with large carbon footprints (e.g. from the new highways contract).  This includes considering whether to specify the early use of low emission vehicles.


Offer practical support to all other suppliers: Provide energy audits and grants to local SMEs in the supply chain (e.g. via LoCASE) and eco-driver training for transport providers

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)


The Council has promoted take up of the LoCASE offer of free energy audits and access to grant funding to SMEs within its supply chain.







Identify opportunities to install PV and other renewables plus battery storage on buildings & land: commission viability assessment of renewables on buildings & land

3c) The Council should explore installing solar panels on its buildings and energy storage where this is possible. In particular, the Council should explore the feasibility of installing solar panel canopies over the car parks at County Hall and use the resultant energy in the building and to power Electric Vehicle/electric bike charge points in the car parks.

In progress

The Council secured funding in 2021 from the national Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund to install solar PV and storage batteries at 6 sites.  The installation of solar panel canopies in the car parks at County Hall will be considered as part of the work on staff travel, for which consultancy support is currently being procured.







Explore carbon off-setting: work with the Sussex Local Nature Partnership to explore options and costs for off-setting with natural capital benefits

13) The Council to keep opportunities for investing in natural habitats under review for inclusion in a carbon off-setting plan at the appropriate time when the science has been developed. 

In progress

The Council hosts the Sussex Local Nature Partnership, which has developed a Natural Capital Investment Strategy, which identifies carbon storage and sequestration as a key area for natural capital investment. The LNP has secured funding from Natural England to map where in Rother, Wealden and Eastbourne carbon sequestration could take place, for instance through habitat management and/or tree planting.  The Council is also leading a SELEP-funded project to better understand the potential scale of supply and demand in the voluntary carbon off-set market and to determine how it could encourage the development of the market.   


  14a) The Council to develop a carbon off-setting plan which includes investment in woodland creation, natural habitats and renewable energy generation.

Not started

A plan will be developed once it’s clear, for example from the action above, what the local market is able to deliver and at what cost, so that the costs, benefits and risks can be assessed with greater certainty. 


14 b) Review the Property Asset Disposal and Investment Strategy to identify land availability and opportunities for carbon off-setting habitats and investment in the development of solar farms.

Not started

The Council has a database of land holdings already used to identify key sites for investment.  This can be used to complete a systematic review of sites to determine whether they might be viable for investment in off-setting, though ESCC is not a large landowner. A set of criteria will need to be developed to sieve sites in line with Council priorities. 14b) In addition to the response to 14 a), the Council's asset management plan 2020- 2025 will consider land sites availability and suitability for solar farms. A business case will need to be formulated to understand the capital investment and ongoing management/expenditure requirements.


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

18 a) ESCC to build on the existing Dutch Elm Disease Strategy to develop a Strategic Tree Policy and action plan to manage Ash Dieback, Dutch Elm Disease and other tree diseases/pests which includes a programme to replace lost trees where possible (subject to safety issues) to mitigate the impact on carbon absorption.

In progress

East Sussex Highways have a tree inspection policy which forms part of the current Highways contract. This is supported by a Tree Inspection Manual, which deals with how inspections and remedial work are prioritised on a risk-based approach. Schools and Property are creating a strategy via Orbis in conjunction with Surrey County Council.  In May 2021, the Council applied to the Defra Treescapes fund, which would be used to replace highway trees lost to disease. We await to hear if this bid has been successful.


(no similar recommendation from the climate emergency action plan)

18 b) Both County and District/Borough Planning teams should be encouraged to attend the master class training provided by the Forestry Commission on the retention and protection of woodlands and trees.

In progress

Discussions are being held with the Forestry Commission to determine what appropriate training they could deliver to planners. This will then be raised through the East Sussex Planning Liaison Group (attended by Heads of Planning), the Local Plan Managers Group and the development Management Forum.


Grid flexibility:





Assist integration of low carbon technologies into the national grid: Review ESCC estate for opportunities to provide Grid Flexibility services such as Demand Side Response and Battery Storage

(no similar recommendation from the Scrutiny review)

In progress

The Council secured funding in 2021 from the national Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund to install solar PV and storage batteries at 6 sites. This work will be completed in 2022.