WCC receives recognition for achieving ongoing ISO 14001 certification for its Environmental Management System (EMS) and placed 7th in the region for sustainability by the Environment Agency.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) have been rated amongst the top local authorities for sustainability by the West Midland’s Local Authority Sustainability Benchmark. Published on behalf of the Environment Agency, the benchmark looks at actions taken in detail across the sustainability agenda. Overall, WCC were awarded a score of 62% and ranked 7th of the 21 regional authorities that took part.
The report looks in detail at the actions being taken by local authorities. They rated WCC as showing leadership and good practice in a number of areas; having a clear path towards achieving net zero by 2030 (their own estate) and 2050 (county-wide), having the concept of biodiversity net gain within all planning strategies and they were also ranked first in the region for resource efficiency, which measures household recycling. The Council were also above average in other categories such as sustainable energy, social health equity, clean air and water.
Since this report was published in December, WCC have also maintained certification to ISO 14001 for their Environmental Management System (EMS), giving Warwickshire residents and businesses the confidence that environmental risks are being well managed.
ISO 14001 is the internal standard for environmental management systems (EMS) and gives a framework for organisations to follow to identify and control environmental risks, ensure legal compliance and reduce environmental impact. This certification, which WCC have held for 10 years, provides assurance that WCC is managing its environmental risks in a structured, transparent way and their environmental impact is being measured and improved.
Warwickshire County Council’s EMS is currently audited by the British Standards Institute (BSI), who carry out an ongoing cycle of assessments to approve certification to ISO 14001. Assessments are scheduled 6-monthly and involve staff and locations from across the Council.
Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture said:
“I’m delighted that the work we are doing to manage environmental risks and reduce our carbon emissions is being recognised. We had no non-conformities in our most recent environmental management system assessment, confirming that we meet the requirements of the 14001 standard in all areas. This is an excellent result, and one that compares well nationally. We are one of only a handful of county councils in the UK that have committed to managing its environmental performance in such a visible way.
“Meanwhile there is ongoing work taking place at WCC to assess and target reductions in carbon emissions from our estate, across buildings, streetlighting and vehicle fleets. We’ve been replacing gas boilers with efficient electric systems, installing solar PV systems, improving building insulation, increasing the use of electric vehicles and using alternative fuels where appropriate. Our tree planting programme is also ongoing, as part of our commitment to plant a tree for every Warwickshire resident.”
Alongside the actions that WCC is taking across its own organisation, it also has various projects in place to support Warwickshire residents, businesses and community groups. In addition to the Solar Together Warwickshire shared buying scheme for residents to purchase solar panels and battery storage, last year they awarded £625,000 to Warwickshire community and voluntary groups as part of the Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund. This enabled Warwickshire communities to design and deliver their own sustainable projects to reduce carbon emissions. To date, 69 projects have been supported by the WCC Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund, with the remaining £375k to be awarded in 2022.
Progress towards the county being net zero by 2050 also continues. Last year WCC Cabinet approved the funding for a costed plan for the county as a whole to be developed during 2022. Following on from a WCC commissioned report last year on the impacts and potential effects of climate change in Warwickshire, a further strategy and action plan for adaptation will also be developed in the coming months.
In March 2022, Warwickshire County Council will join together with Coventry City Council to bring together all the key public sector organisations from across Coventry and Warwickshire at a Climate Conference. Alongside representatives from the private, voluntary and community sectors, they expect to be declaring a united commitment to fight climate change and to further develop and align plans to reach net zero across the region.