Council’s climate action praised by national watchdog

A local authority in Lincolnshire has been praised for its work on addressing climate change in a national analysis of all councils’ performance published this week.
Covered in solar panels the roofs of North Kesteven District Council’s offices. Photo: Chris Vaughan PhotographyCovered in solar panels the roofs of North Kesteven District Council’s offices. Photo: Chris Vaughan Photography
Covered in solar panels the roofs of North Kesteven District Council’s offices. Photo: Chris Vaughan Photography

North Kesteven District Council’s work in planning and land use and collaboration and engagement is highlighted in a new report by Climate Emergency UK, whose ‘scorecards’ rank the actions of every UK council against a number of criteria.

The report, titled “Scorecards Successes: What factors enable climate action within UK local authorities?”, places the authority 50 percentage points above average for Planning and Land Use and 28 percentage points above average for Collaboration and Engagement when compared to other district councils.

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NKDC scored 14 percentage points higher than the average district council score overall, achieving a ranking of 12th in the UK (out of 164 district councils).

Under the assessment for Planning and Land Use, North Kesteven District Council’s participation in the climate-positive Central Lincolnshire Local Plan came in for particular praise. This plan has a number of features that mark it out as prioritising environmental concerns, such as pushing the boundaries on energy efficiency in new buildings, promoting renewable energy generation and reducing embodied carbon.

In its comments on Collaboration and Engagement the report particularly praises the efforts to engage the public in climate action, which the council does primarily through its Act on Climate campaign. The range of user-friendly information on the NKDC website and the council’s climate pledges are picked out as being especially noteworthy.

Engagement with the business community was also noted, with the council’s aim to help enterprises reduce their environmental impact being positively picked-out.

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For example, the council has subsidised 300 free places for businesses on the sustainability platform Zellar, which helps SMEs make a climate action plan and guides them through making changes to reduce their impact.

North Kesteven District Council Chief Executive, Ian Fytche, said: “We’re delighted to have been recognised for our climate action, which ranks as one of our top priorities as a team. The Central Lincolnshire Local Plan has one of the most ambitious suites of climate change policies in the country, and it’s rewarding to have that recognised.

“We have established a ‘green thread’ which is woven into all we do as a council, with the aim of every action we undertake contributing positively to tackling climate change. From our home building programme to our use of resources as an organisation, we’re making change wherever we can.

“Our teams work hard to make the right choices, and our members continue to unanimously support climate action. This sort of focus and consensus keeps us moving forward and we aim to take local people with us through our communications and engagement work.”

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Isaac Beevor, Partnerships Director at Climate Emergency UK said: “It’s good to see North Kesteven being highlighted for this work towards net zero.

“This report highlights some of the most effective actions councils can and are already taking to have the biggest positive impact on their climate action work, despite funding constraints.

“But effective reporting, leadership and funding for council net zero work would be much easier if climate action were a fully-funded statutory duty for UK councils, like social care and waste and recycling, which is what we recommend in this new report.”

Climate Emergency UK commissioned respected sustainability consultants Anthesis to undertake independent analysis of their scorecards and identify what makes councils effective in taking climate action.

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Political leadership, good governance and external funding are the factors that have the biggest impact on enabling climate action within local authorities, according to their report.

CE UK will publish the next Council Climate Action Scorecards in 2025, this second edition being the first time councils’ scorecards will be able to be compared against the previous Action Scorecards from 2023.

The full report Scorecards Successes: ‘What factors enable climate action within UK local authorities?’ is available from today (March 21):