East Lothian Council drives changes to climate strategy

East Lothian Council has proposed an increase in its electric vehicle fleets as well as the installation of public EV chargepoints across East Lothian as part of an update to its Climate Change Strategy.

Recently, 11 new Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) were added to the council’s fleet, funded by Transport Scotland’s Switched On Fleets Programme, increasing current fleet to 28 EVs. The roll-out of EV chargepoints across the county continues with at least one Journey (Rapid) charger in each of East Lothian’s 11 largest towns, and the number of Destination chargers for residential use increased from three in 2017 to over 60.

A year after East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 was launched, the first annual update was noted and approved at this week’s cabinet meeting.

The Climate Change Strategy sets out East Lothian Council’s commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency at a local level and sets out the vision and overall aims for a ‘Net Zero Council’ and a ‘Carbon Neutral East Lothian’ with specific outcomes, key priority areas and actions over an initial five year period towards achieving these overall aims.

Since the launch of the strategy it was recognised that although many planned priorities and actions have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic other opportunities have arisen which can result in a positive impact in reducing carbon emissions.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, environment spokesperson, said: “2020 has been a challenging year for all of us but nevertheless the Council has continued to reduce its carbon footprint and deliver actions identified within the action plan which all contribute towards us becoming a Net Zero Council.

“New actions have also been identified for future years and the Council will continue to keep abreast of changing legislation and explore new opportunities. COVID-19 has proven the concept that many council staff can work remotely and services can be delivered with fewer assets. The council is now analysing and considering how to build on this learning, and exploring opportunities for the future ‘new normal’.

East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 covers two major aspects of climate change: Climate Change Mitigation – which sets out how East Lothian Council will reduce their emissions to reach net zero as soon as reasonably practicable, and work with partners towards a carbon neutral East Lothian; and Climate Change Adaptation which recognises that climate change is already impacting upon the planet and sets out how East Lothian Council will adapt to and prepare for future changes in climate and to enable local communities and businesses to become more resilient.

In recognition of Climate Change Adaptation, the council continues to take action to tackle future climate change impacts: a key area currently advancing is Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme which is now progressing Stage 4 of the Scheme (Outline Design).

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