Climate action: our environment

How can we look after our environment and encourage others to do the same?

Climate change hub

Litter and fly-tipping is environmental vandalism – it’s unpleasant, unnecessary and unacceptable. Not only does fly-tipping create an eyesore for residents, it is also a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting rats and other vermin. 

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Place-based leadership for biodiversity - webinar

The LGA webinar, 'place-based leadership for biodiversity', was organised as part of the LGA’s green webinar series. It covered how councils and farmers can work together, how councils can put together a Local Nature Recovery Plan, how the use of greenspace data can help inform a biodiversity action plan and lastly, and how councils can undertake biodiversity net gain.

Read the blog and access the slides for further information

Seeing the wood for the trees - webinar

The LGA webinar, 'seeing the wood for the trees', was organised as part of the LGA’s green webinar series. It examined the case for planting trees in terms of finance and carbon, the challenges this presents for local authorities and the benefits of urban tree planting. 

Read the blog and access the slides for further information.

Waste management

Local residents take a keen interest in what happens to their bins. We support high recycling rates for householders and businesses and are working hard to make sure councils are able to reduce landfill and tackle climate change through increasing recycling.

There are approximately 23 million dwellings in England most of which require a weekly or fortnightly refuse and recycling collection. Councils spend £852m per year on waste collection, and given that many contracts were negotiated several years ago and are ready for renewal, even a small efficiency saving of say 5 per cent would equate to a £42.6m reduction in spend in this area.

In 2015 we supported council across England to run projects intended to bring about efficiencies and savings to council's waste and recycling budget. You can find some of the learning beneath:

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Wiltshire Council: The Salisbury Park Project

The Salisbury River Park project is a collaborative project between Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency, with support from both the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) and Salisbury City Council to deliver essential flood alleviation and major environmental improvements through the central riverside spine of the historic city of Salisbury.

Read the full case study

Wiltshire Council: Community Environmental Toolkit

The Wiltshire Community Environmental Toolkit has been developed by Wiltshire Council in partnership with Natural England to allow communities to take the lead in defining and restoring biodiversity in their community.

Read the full case study

North Devon and Torridge Councils: North Devon Biosphere Nature Recovery Plan

North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is jointly funded by Devon County Council, North Devon Council and Torridge District Council. The Biosphere is launching an ambitious new Nature Recovery Plan as our contribution to tackling the ecological emergency here in northern Devon.

Read the full case study

City of York Council: York Community Woodland

City of York Council is creating an extensive community woodland on 78 hectares of land to the West of York with the ambition to plant 50,000 trees by 2023 as a nature based solution to climate change mitigation.

Read the full case study

Cambridge City Council: The Cambridge Canopy Project

The Cambridge Canopy Project – part of the Interreg 2 Seas ‘Nature Smart Cities’ project – seeks to grow Cambridge’s urban forest, increasing tree canopy cover from 17% to 19% by the 2050s. The project uses trees as a form of green infrastructure to make the city more climate-resilient for the future, helping to combat the urban heat island effect and lowering the risk of flooding. By utilising a nature-based solution like this, the Cambridge Canopy Project is helping the city adapt to, and mitigate against, the likely impacts that will be brought about under future climate change scenarios.

Read the full case study

South Lakeland District Council: The Climate Emergency Schools Competition

SLDC, along with the University of Manchester, ran competition for pupils of primary and secondary schools to design a poster about the climate emergency for bin lorries, to motivate communities to take action on climate change.

Read the full case study

City of York Council: York’s Clean Air Zone

City of York Council took action to improve air quality across the city through a Clean Air Zone, aiming to significantly reduce emissions from buses and ensure all those operating frequently in the city centre were low emission.

Read the full case study

Colchester Borough Council

Region East of England

Project Review of waste and zones service resulting in a design of transformational change. This was a cost savings project

Related costs Annual revenue savings to the council of £750,000

Further information is available.

West Suffolk Council

Region East of England

Target Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2025 based on a baseline set in 2010

Project Better planning of waste collection routes using GPS mapping to reduce the need for more waste collection vehicles and fuel usage. Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council used geographical data to optimise the routes for refuse collection and street cleaning services.

Related costs Annual saving of £300000

Further information is available.

Southend on Sea Borough Council

Region East of England

Project Used the ‘nudge theory’ to inspire people to do the right thing with their cigarette waste and developed an innovative ashtray proven to reduce cigarette litter by 46% - the Ballot Bin.

Further information is available.

Stevenage Borough Council

Region East of England

Target Declared a climate emergency and achieve zero carbon status by 2050.

Project Launched the biodiversity action plan in 2010 and has been actively managing sites for biodiversity since in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the council’s Green Space Volunteers. 4 parks have green flag status.

Further information is available.

Croydon Council

Region Greater London

Target declared a climate emergency and target of being carbon neutral by 2030. Boost the borrowers recycling rate by 9%

Project Commitment to a £250,000 fund to support greener initiatives

Further information is available.

London Borough of Havering

Region Greater London

Project Received match funding from LGA to deliver a programme that seeks to reduce total waste tonnages collected from households in areas of high waste producers

Further information is available.

Sutton Council

Region Greater London

Target declared a climate emergency and target to be carbon neutral by 2030

Project Since 2018, have begun the process of removing all single use plastics from council operations and contracts.

Further information is available.

Waltham Forest Council

Region Greater London

Project Will launch a new Climate Change Strategy and establish an independent Climate Emergency Commission to help shape the local response.

Further information is available.

Newcastle City Council

Region North East

Project Newcastle Digital Channel Shift project developed a WasteBot, an SMS text messaging chat box to replace a paper-based process for applying for household waste recycling centre permits that took up to 14 days and turned it into an accessible, easy to use, 90 second process

Further information is available.

Sunderland City Council

Region North East

Target Carbon neutral by 2030. Target to save £20,0000 by 2020. Sunderland was named the best place in the UK to find electric vehicle charging stations in a UK wide survey by green energy provider Tonik Energy.

Project Redesigning the online environmental services offer for customers who want to report environmental issues or request services such as bulk waste collection. This will involve redesigning web pages, integrating with Fix My Street and introducing Bartec (in-cab technology) into refuse vehicles.

Related costs cost of project £15,000 on track to meet exceed 2020 savings target. Being a 7,000 reduction in reports of missing bins and 80% reduction in reports of missed containers.

Further information is available.

Wigan Council

Region North West

Target declared climate emergency and achieved carbon neutrality by 2038.

Project Bin hangers, behaviourally informed leaflets and stickers and reminder emails were employed as nudge tactics to increase food waste recycling. The target rounds recycled 0.59 tonnes more food waste than the control, a 4.6% increase in weight of food waste recycled.

Carbon saving Emissions need to fall by 95% from 1,371,300 tonnes of carbon emissions (2016 figure) to meet 2038 target

Further information is available.

Brighton and Hove City Council

Region South East

Target carbon neutral by 2030 for the whole city

Project Establishing a sustainability and carbon reduction investment fund.

Further information is available

Buckinghamshire County Council

Region South East

Target Acknowledge the net-zero 2050 UK target, as contained in the 2008 Climate Change Act (as amended). That the new Buckinghamshire Council should consider addressing climate change as a key issue.

Project Began adopting digital solutions to managing meetings - Convene, which is an ipad app - in 2016 in order to save time, money and paper. Local authorities use 5.3 million reams of paper a year, requiring 292,000 trees to be felled. Moving to electronic meeting systems could dramatically reduce this waste. The Council has also adopted Lync/skype for business and teleconferencing facilities which are available in many meeting rooms for video conferencing.

Related costs £40k per annum for an officer to engage with stakeholders on food waste and £16m total cost for biogas plant

Carbon saving 2,635 (based on all food waste being used in the biogas plant - doesn't include the avoided methane from reduced landfill).

Further information is available

Surrey County Council

Region South East

Target carbon neutral by 2050

Project Surrey CC is planning to plant 1.2 million trees – one for every resident – and to replace wood used by businesses in the county. The council plans to work with the Woodland Trust and other conservation organisations on the project

Further information is available.

Hampshire County Council

Region South West

Target declared a climate emergency and target of carbon neutral by 2050

Project The Tree Strategy sets out Hampshire County Council’s approach to increasing and connecting woodland areas, green’ corridors and networks across the County.  It will supplement and connect existing sites through group tree planting, to create a County-wide ‘Hampshire Community Forest’.  The Council will support a programme of tree and wildflower planting on highways amenity land, and work with Partners to identify appropriate sites for improved management, natural regeneration and further planting to create the Forest. Engagement with the Forestry Commission, Forestry England and the Woodland Trust is ongoing.

Carbon saving Hampshire County Council has driven a 43. 3% reduction in its carbon emissions since 2010.

Further information is available.

North East Lincolnshire Council

Region Yorkshire and Humber  

Target declared climate emergency September 2019

Project The council has installed solar panelled compacting litter bins across parks in the area, which can hold up to ten-times more rubbish than a standard bin because they are designed to compress rubbish and therefore do not need to be emptied as often. The software installed in the bins collects data and generates wireless alerts when they are full and need to be emptied, which consequently saves time, reduces traffic and the cost of collection.

Further information is available

The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames

The Berrylands Nature Reserve (otherwise known as the Raeburn Open Space local nature reserve), was once a forgotten and neglected space. Few local residents were aware of the site's existence and it was in a poor condition. However, working with a local conservation charity; ‘The Environment Trust’, we engaged in a project to restore the nature reserve and inspire the local community (funded by Thames Water).

The project involved significant river restoration removing hundreds of tonnes of concrete, established a new wildlife pond and carried out conservation work across the site. The project also established a local friends group. The site is now a haven for wildlife and the Friends Group is thriving, enabling the community to contribute to the ongoing management of the area.

The challenge:

This project had to overcome a number of challenges:

To secure the funds to carry out the works Restore an ecologically impoverished area, which included the rectification of a highly canalized and concreted river system Engage and inspire a community who were unaware of the site's existence. And address anti social behaviours such as chronic littering, arson and drug dealing which were evident prior to the start of the works Ensure the site had a sustainable exit strategy, to secure the long term legacy of the works.


Elliot Newton -

Links to relevant documents:

The Hogsmill Film - Featuring the project

The Friends of Berrylands Nature Reserve Website

Lessons learned:

Restoring a local nature reserve can bring huge environmental and social benefits. This can contribute to the health of the community and foster a greater sense of social cohesion and respect  for the environment. The community needs to be at the heart of projects inception and delivery of the project to increase the likelihood that it is locally accepted. A Friends Group which is supported by the local authority can ensure the legacy of the site, and positively contribute to the running of the site.

The empowerment and mobilisation of local residents to support conservation work has enabled conservation work to continue at minimal cost. And with the capital investment being made by Thames Water there were no financial demands placed on the local authority. The running of a Forest School on site is also generating some level of income for the council.

This film demonstrates the success of the project:

How is the new approach being sustained?

The Friends Group are continuing to lead conservation work and there is a significant level of community support and involvement. Id Verde are also supporting this process to ensure they have the guidance and tools they need to deliver conservation activities.

The solution:

Each of the challenges raised above required a tailored approach to overcome the issue, they are addressed in turn below:

To raise the funds we investigated a number of funding opportunities some of which were unsuccessful. However as active members of the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership, we became aware of the Thames Water Community Investment Fund. Having already been engaged with local community conservation initiatives, the Environment Trust (endorsed by RBK) were able submit a strong application which was successful, securing £168,000.

With a collaborative approach engaging with technical specialists where appropriate, we were able to create a comprehensive conservation plan to deliver evidence based conservation action to enhance the sites ecology. This was assisted with the mobilisation and empowerment of local residents who engaged in regular conservation sessions.

We ran multiple local community meetings before and during the restoration works. This enabled us to secure the community's buy-in from the very beginning of the project, enabling their input to influence decision making. To address potentially criminal behaviours we worked alongside the local police who supported the works. We constructed a new bridge and circular nature trail, this encouraged local people to explore the area, furthermore our regular conservation sessions and the establishment of a Forest School discouraged anti social behaviours.

To secure the legacy of the site we established a Friends Group. The group is continuing to grow and attract new members, this will ensure conservation work continues to the far reaching future. These are supported by Id Verde, the RBK grounds maintenance contractors. The impact (including cost savings/income generated if applicable): This project has delivered a significant and positive ecological and social impact. Biodiversity levels have increased within the nature reserve with increased sightings of kingfisher, little egret and a range of dragonfly species. Also more local people are visiting the area, benefiting both their mental and physical well being. During the summer lockdown many local residents praised the site stating it was a really important part of the copying mechanism providing them with a space to engage with nature and combat stress.


Tackling gum litter in known hotspots, Islington Council

Reducing cigarette butt litter in Southend-on-Sea Borough Council 

Reducing the amount of litter thrown from vehicles in the New Forest in New Forest District Council 

Offline accessible reporting app by Telford & Wrekin Council 

Gloucester Digital App - Gloucester City Council and Gloucester County Council

Waste (including food waste, garden waste and recycling)

Applying behavioural insights to improve food recycling in Wigan - Wigan Borough Council 

Improving Hampshire's recycling using behavioural insights - Hampshire County Council 

Reviewing household and trade waste collection in North Lincolnshire Council 

Waste and Zones Service Review in Colchester Borough Council 

Waste management in Craven District Council 

The London Borough of Havering are using behavioural insights to reduce household waste 

The London Borough of Hounslow are using behavioural insights to increase recycling in high rise flats 

Westminster is using behavioural insights to reduce the amount of abandoned waste on the streets 

Digital transformation in waste services by Sunderland City Council 

Transforming and digitising the refuse and recycling service by Scarborough Borough Council 

A behavioural approach to digital channel shift - Rochdale Borough Council 

Chatbot for channel shift: WasteBot - Newcastle City Council 

Digital channel shift - Blackpool Council 

Rother District Council are using behavioural insights to reduce demand 


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Forestry Commission

Trees, woods and forests play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Placing woodland creation at the heart of any response will result in efficient and effective carbon capture, as well as a range of other benefits. 

The ‘Responding to the climate emergency with new trees and woodlands’ leaflet has been produced to help local authorities and landowning businesses achieve net zero. It includes: 

- tips on creating and managing woodland 
- tips on reducing the use of non-renewable resources through wood and timber products 
- sources of further information on grant funding 

The Woodland Trust

Here are links to the support that the Trust offers to communities and councils for tree planting: 

For schools and communities

For large scale planting

Emergency Tree Plan checklist for local authorities

Emergency Tree Plan for the UK

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Agency

The strategy sets out how we will preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy. At the same time we will minimise the damage caused to our natural environment by reducing and managing waste safely and carefully, and by tackling waste crime. It combines actions we will take now with firm commitments for the coming years and gives a clear longer-term policy direction in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan. This is our blueprint for eliminating avoidable plastic waste over the lifetime of the 25 Year Plan, doubling resource productivity, and eliminating avoidable waste of all kinds by 2050.

Green Alliance: Natural infrastructure schemes for sustainable agriculture

The National Infrastructure Scheme mechanism creates a market for environmental improvements which funds sustainable practices. In the case studied in this report, we look at the potential to use the scheme to improve soil and water quality in the Anglian river basin. 

Our example assesses how the approach could work to complement regulation and reduce concentrations of nitrates in groundwater, while improving the soil. In this case study, land management services are purchased from a consortium of participating farmers by a group of buyers, which include the local water company and businesses from the food and drink sector. 

This report shows that our NIS concept creates benefits to the farmers, who receive higher incomes, and buyers who are provided cleaner water and more sustainable farming methods.

Green Alliance: Four steps towards 100% aluminium packaging recycling

In this report we shift the spotlight away from plastic to examine how reform can work for another widely used material: aluminium. We recommend a four step approach in order to achieve a near 100 per cent recycling rate.

  • Create an 'all-in' deposit return scheme (DRS)
  • Improve kerbside services
  • Ensure best practice at sorting plants
  • Recover the remainder from incinerator bottom ash
Green Alliance: Natural infrastructure schemes explained

This short explainer is an introduction to the Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS), a market concept developed by Green Alliance and the National Trust that would make it possible for farmers and landowners to profit from carrying out activities that improve the environment, and other organisations, like local authorities, utilities and food companies, able to purchase benefits, like flood prevention and soil improvements.

It explains how a NIS would work, why it is needed and what government support is needed to kick-start a NIS.

NFU: Net zero and agriculture: A guide for local authorities

Net zero and agriculture: A guide for local authorities (PDF)