To view this report, you can:
- continue to read the full report on this accessible web page
- download the full report in a PDF version
- download a summary of the report
- watch our YouTube video showing highlights from the report
To view this report, you can:
The 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme is Brighton & Hove City Council’s response to the climate and biodiversity emergency. It sets out the ways we will combat the climate crisis in our city for the next decade, focussing on social justice and future generations alongside rapid decarbonisation. This Annual Report reports on progress in 2021 to 2022.
The Programme comes after we declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2018 and extensive consultation on how our city can adapt for the better, through the democratic debate at our Climate and Youth Assemblies.
Climate change is causing devastating damage across the globe, destroying habitats and driving many species to extinction.
The human population is suffering too, with more frequent extreme weather events and toxic air. We cannot sit back and let this happen.
So we’re not. We are grasping the opportunity with both hands, taking ambitious action with residents and partners across the city, to reach the target of a carbon neutral city by 2030.
This journey will not be an easy one, but it is one the city needs to take to protect the environment now and for future generations.
It is clear already that many in our city are passionate about tackling climate change through the creation of innovative projects across many different fields.
We want to build on Brighton & Hove’s achievements, like becoming the first city in the UK to win the Gold Sustainable Food City Award, and set an example for the systematic change that needs to happen.
I believe that this programme of work is a very important step in this journey, and I’m excited to work with residents and organisations across the city on the projects outlined in our carbon neutral programme, for a sustainable future for Brighton & Hove.
In December 2018, Brighton & Hove City Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in a cross-party commitment. The council held a Climate Assembly, and local young people held a Youth Assembly, on the topic of travel and transport in autumn 2020. Ongoing development of climate action work was brought together in the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme and approved by Policy & Resources Committee in March 2021.
This Annual Report documents progress during 2021 to 2022.
The 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme is formally monitored and reported to Policy and Resources Committee and an annual report produced. Quarterly Key Performance Indicator progress is reported within Directorates.
The internal, cross-party 2030 Carbon Neutral Member Working Group meets regularly to steer and drive development of policy and projects.
The city council in 2021 achieved a positive Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) score which found that the council has understood the main risks and impacts of climate change and is taking action to adapt and reduce emissions. There was recognition of achievements, plans in place, and collaborative work with partners in the city.
The Programme embeds climate action across many teams and projects in the council. Climate Literacy Training was introduced in 2022 to assist that culture shift for all staff, including Carbon Literacy training for senior leadership. Collaboration across departments adds value in developing service area action plans and is assisted by the council’s Sustainability Team.
The 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme is on the council’s website and news stories on climate action and events in the city are regularly published on the council’s website and social media. Find out what individuals and communities can do to cut their own carbon footprint and restore nature.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s Climate Conversations website hosts open discussions and consultations on climate matters. Consultations on individual projects and strategies are held as work progresses and we try to ensure everyone can have their say.
During 2022 to 2023 the council will continue to act on the priorities in the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme.
The 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme will be reviewed and updated in 2023 to enhance our strategic approach, increase collaboration, and help the council and the city progress towards our carbon neutral and biodiversity targets. Key areas for future development are greater emphasis on biodiversity and restoring nature, on the circular economy, and the social and economic co-benefits of climate action, such as tackling the cost-of-living crisis, and health benefits from clean air. We will continue to mainstream climate action across council Directorates and teams.
The research strand of the programme is developed with reference to academic partners and The Living Coast research priorities. It will provide evidence for strategy and project development.
Research will include:
Brighton & Hove City Council’s corporate carbon emissions are only a tiny fraction (less than 2%) of the city as a whole, so collaboration with businesses, institutions, and communities is essential to reach our carbon neutral target. The council with community partners will explore options for a city climate action partnership to build and coordinate a collaborative city-wide response. Existing partnerships are encouraged to place a greater emphasis on climate action.
The council has set an ambitious target for the whole city to be carbon neutral by 2030. Brighton & Hove City Council’s carbon neutral target requires greenhouse gas emissions for the whole city to fall by 12.7% annually from 2020 onwards. This is a science-based target, prepared by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, showing Brighton & Hove’s fair contribution to keeping climate change within limits.
This target includes greenhouse gas emissions from transport, housing, commercial buildings and agriculture; arising from gas, electricity, petrol / diesel and other fuels used in the city (also known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions). It does not include “Scope 3” emissions from the goods and services consumed in the city but produced elsewhere, including most of our food, clothing, electronics, and construction materials. Over the next year the council will be considering the adequacy of the target and investigating ways of measuring Scope 3 emissions.
Brighton & Hove city emissions of greenhouse gases were 1,201 thousand tonnes in 2019 (based on data from Scattercities). This was a 4.3% decrease on 2018 (slightly better than the national figure of 3.6%) and just below our target of 1,206 thousand tonnes.
In 2020, it is estimated to be 1,087 thousand tonnes, a reduction of around 9.5% on the previous year (green line in graph). This figure is an estimate based on national data. This Key Performance Indicator is reported annually to the council’s Policy & Resources Committee.
Greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide and other gases as well as carbon dioxide. Previously the council measured carbon dioxide only (blue line in graph). Since 2005, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 640 thousand tonnes or 46%. The largest reduction was from electricity, as the National Grid gets more renewable electricity from wind farms and solar power.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s total internal emissions for 2020 to 2021 were 18,081 tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2e), Figure 1 shows a breakdown of the total footprint. Compared to the council’s 2019 to 2020 footprint of 19,626 tonnes CO2e, this represents an annual reduction of 1,545 tonnes CO2e (7.87%).
Greenhouse gas emissions within the council’s operational scope have reduced by a total of 52.6% across the last 10 years, with an average annual reduction of 7.63%. In particular, emissions from electricity consumption have fallen by 73% in the last decade and are likely to be minimal by the 2030 target date (less than 10% of current). The council’s greenhouse gas emissions are only a tiny fraction (1.7%) of the city’s emissions.
In the 2020 to 2021 reporting year, council operations were heavily affected by COVID-19 service adjustments and lockdowns, so changes to carbon emissions need to be viewed in this context.
Brighton & Hove City Council corporate carbon footprint 2020 to 2021
In 2020 to 2021, the council emitted 18,081 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
This was made up of:
Fleet fuel - 2,375 tonnes, 13% of total
Corporate electricity - 1,936 tonnes, 11% of total
Corporate heating - 2,259 tonnes, 13% of total
Housing electricity - 991 tonnes, 6% of total
Housing heating - 3,307 tonnes, 18% of total
Schools electricity - 1,525 tonnes, 8% of total
Schools heating - 4,055 tonnes, 22% of total
Street lighting - 1,633 tonnes, 9% of total
We can measure the emissions in the council’s corporate estate and operations directly. Emissions are calculated using consumption figures taken from utility supplier billing as well as meter readings, and the fuel consumption of our fleet of vehicles.
However, climate action often relies on individual and/or collective behaviour change. For the council, this means that infrastructure – such as new active travel measures and improvements to local environments – may encourage and enable a reduction in motorised travel, but it is difficult to quantify reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Some savings are longer term. Maintenance practices and materials are now focusing on reduced carbon emissions. For example, a new approach to treating road surfaces is reducing the need to resurface them as frequently, saving carbon over time while enabling savings made to be spent on active travel infrastructure The council is also exploring ways of quantifying carbon embedded in materials such as road surfacing and construction materials.
In June 2021, the council approved a 2030 transport vision, key outcomes and principles as the ‘direction of travel’ for a new Local Transport Plan (LTP) for the city. These, along with the priority areas and initial set of proposed interventions, formed the basis of an initial public consultation in autumn 2021. The results of this consultation were reported in March 2022.
The key principles underpinning the proposed strategy are:
The priority areas for investment and intervention which will now be developed further, are:
In March 2022 the council approved its first Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) to plan strategically for active travel network infrastructure improvements.
It will ensure the city is well placed to bid for future funding opportunities; incorporate cycling and walking into new developments, and secure improvements through the planning process; promote active travel and ensure a comprehensive network for everyday active travel journeys in the city and the countryside.
Wider benefits include equality of opportunity, improved public health, and meeting the challenge of becoming a carbon neutral city. Consultation on the draft LCWIP was carried out in 2021 and further consultation will be carried out on the detailed designs of schemes from the LCWIP when they are taken forward.
The council continues to participate in the city’s longstanding, successful, informal Quality Bus Partnership [QBP] with local bus operators. In response to the government’s National Bus Strategy to improve bus travel and grow usage, the city’s QBP developed a Bus Service Improvement Plan [BSIP] and proposals for an Enhanced Partnership with a more formal agreement, vision, aims and actions.
The draft BSIP was submitted to the government in October 2021 and was successful in securing an indicative sum of nearly £28 million to invest over 3 years. The council was one of only 31 authorities to achieve this. This funding is expected to be invested in additional bus priority measures; new lower fares and simpler ticketing (focused on younger and older people); and enhancements to less frequent bus services which are financially supported by the council. It will significantly increase bus use. Funding will be confirmed later in 2022 once the Enhanced Partnership agreement is approved by government.
Brighton & Hove Buses continues its journey towards a zero-carbon fleet with the introduction of hybrid electric buses, cutting emissions through the city centre to improve air quality. There has been further investment into the bus network, introducing more bus shelters, real-time bus stops and schemes to reduce bus journey times. The Big Lemon bus company has been planning a fully electric fleet and ran a fully zero-emissions electric bus service on all its public bus routes for the first time in June 2022 (on Clean Air Day).
A small Park + Ride site currently operates from Withdean Athletics Stadium, and temporary schemes also operate throughout the year to support events in the city. In particular, there is a well-established scheme that operates from two sites in the city for the Amex Community Stadium at Falmer on match days. A planned summer trial of a Park + Ride scheme in Mill Road in 2022 had been proposed by a local bus company, but this is not currently being pursued.
Some funding has been allocated to undertake a feasibility study of potential Park + Ride sites. This will initially be based on a review of the suitability of sites that have previously been explored, based on an assessment against current land-use policies and various plans and strategies. The study should be completed before the end of 2022.
The council continues to grow our electric vehicle charging points network (see our Electric Vehicle Charge Point Update) and is now one of the top 5 leading councils in the country. To date 303 public chargers have been installed in the city and are operational. The council has a programme of submitting bids to increase the number of charge points on the public network. There is a steady increase in monthly usage for all charger type.
The 200 lamp post chargers in the city which provide overnight charging are increasingly popular with electric vehicle drivers with twice as many charging sessions compared to the previous year. The council is rolling out more ‘exclusive recharging only’ parking bays with an extra 100 being added this year and an extra 50 lamp post chargers to be installed by September 2022.
Last year three on-street rapid taxi hubs with 18 rapid charging bays (with 6 for public use) were installed and are now operational. These can fully charge most electric vehicles within an hour. A further bid for 36 fast (22kW) chargers to serve 36 car club bays plus 36 public charging bays will be submitted in June 2022.
The council has been working with our charge point operator EB Charging and Disabled Motoring UK who have provided valuable insights about all the different charge points in the city from a disabled car user’s perspective. A bid for Innovate UK research funding has been successful and, with our partners, the council aims to develop a fully accessible charge point with a prototype booking system.
Engaging with local businesses and organisations includes encouraging them to use and switch to electric cargo (eCargo) bikes for deliveries of goods and services. To do this the council has leased eCargo bikes to 5 local SMEs, 2 council teams and an urban logistics company. The council also offers a financial subsidy of £125 to SMEs to incentivise and support their switch to eCargo for deliveries, as well as impartial advice, free rider training and marketing opportunities.
As of February 2022, 18,000 miles had been travelled by the local businesses making deliveries around the city with the eCargo bikes the council leased to them, and 6.9 tonnes of CO2 saved since the project started in 2020. Local business Brighton Gin’s eCargo bike has effectively replaced the diesel van they were using for local deliveries, saving on time and reducing carbon emissions. As of May 2022, Brighton Gin have covered over 3,000 miles using their eCargo bike for deliveries around the city. A further 25 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have taken up our subsidy offer to switch to eCargo.
The council aims to have a zero-carbon fleet by 2030, including refuse vehicles and maintenance vans, phasing out petrol and diesel engine vehicles. Around 5% of the fleet has already been switched to electric vehicles. In 2022 the council brought in two all-electric refuse lorries with a further two on order plus a further two electric communal bin lorries. 22 electric vans will be introduced during 2022.
The council is investing in the ongoing transition in transport and travel use by providing infrastructure that makes active, sustainable, and low emission travel more attractive options for people. Projects include infrastructure to expand zero emission transport; improvements to roads; maintenance schemes such as surface renewal or repairs to drainage; and repairing uneven pavements. This work has been delivered jointly with City Parks to support the street tree planting programme.
For example, works to improve safety and accessibility in Portland Road have been completed, by combining funds with a development contribution to provide a more comprehensive scheme.
Significant progress has been made with the support of the Local Access Forum on delivering improvements to some longstanding issues on the city’s Rights of Way network. This has included work on a restricted bridleway in Mile Oak, Waterhall/ Sweet Hill bridleway and an upgraded section of the ‘easy access’ trail in Sheepcote Valley, with additional drop kerbs on Wilson Avenue. The surface renewal of the multi-user Ditchling Road to Stanmer Park path is almost completed.
Since 2017, the Invest to Save programme has been upgrading 18,000 lanterns across Brighton, Hove and Portslade, fitting them with new LED lights. Around three quarters of the city’s lanterns have been replaced with work continuing to fit the rest with LED lights. All the replacement lanterns have been manufactured using up to 85% recycled materials.
The programme has cut electricity use by more than one-third up to 2021-22. Carbon emissions have fallen from 4,313 tonnes of CO2 to 1,411, a reduction of over 67%. The completed scheme will require less maintenance and reduce the city’s energy bills by several hundred thousand pounds per year.
Poor air quality and inhalation of pollutants has negative impacts on everyone’s health, with potentially serious consequences for individuals, families and at a population level. As well as tiny particulates of air pollution, vehicles also emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
A full review of air quality in the city during 2020 was published in 2021 in the Air Quality Annual Status Report. We are working towards increasing the amount of air pollution monitoring in Brighton & Hove with additional real-time sensors. A new Air Quality Action Plan is scheduled to follow in 2022.
Other work includes:
The council is working to reduce carbon emissions within its own operations and property.
All the electricity purchased for the council’s energy supply has been 100% covered by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) since April 2020. This allows the council to report our emissions as ‘zero’ under Scope 2 of the Greenhouse Gas protocol. However we still provide carbon emission figures alongside this. The supply of REGOs continues from April 2022. This highlights the council’s support for the development of additional renewable generation capacity across the UK energy mix.
The Energy & Water Property Team at the council has a rolling programme of decarbonisation studies of Brighton & Hove City Council corporate property portfolio (offices, schools, social care locations, depots), the latest reporting in March 2022. These audits will identify opportunities for replacing existing fossil fuel heating systems with low carbon alternatives to help address emissions from gas consumption and produce a targeted list of priority sites. External funding will be sought both for the next round of funding for site audits, and for the energy efficiency works.
The council is exploring renewable energy including installation of heat pumps in our council-owned housing and extending the number of solar panel installations.
The council takes a leading role in Hydrogen Sussex, the coordinating body working on practical and strategic projects with Greater Brighton and stakeholders to promote and support development of a hydrogen economy across the city-region.
Long-term projects are being delivered through the ‘managing waste responsibly’ project to increase reuse, repair and recycling.
The council has consulted to ban single-use BBQs in public spaces such as the seafront and parks. The ban comes into effect from 1 July 2022 and fixed penalty notices will be issued where offences occur.
On-the-go recycling has been installed along the city’s seafronts and in some parks, including Wish Park and Stanmer Park. The council is developing plans to roll out further on-the-go recycling containers in city centre locations, as well as in more parks across the city.
A project in collaboration with Keep Britain Tidy is underway, focusing on student residents. The objective is to engage with a cohort of students not reached before in private rented accommodation to explore the barriers to waste management and recycling in Brighton & Hove and how this sits within a national picture.
Continuing to grow the community composting scheme: new schemes have been introduced at Bedford Square, Adelaide Crescent, Woodingdean, Queen’s Park, Wish Park and Hollingdean Community Centre; 10 additional composters have been provided at existing sites; and 16 worn out composters have been replaced at existing sites.
This Circular Economy project focuses on household behaviour change on reuse and recycling. Additional textile reuse and recycling infrastructure was installed in the Whitehawk estate in Spring 2022, along with community surveys, a pop-up workshop and clothes swap. More community events will take place across different locations in the city, each themed on a different waste material. Further information in the Circular Economy chapter of this report.
The council continues to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, with a large reduction from 2.5% to 1.2% in our 2020 to 2021 figures. The city’s residual waste is sent to the energy recovery facility at Newhaven and generates electricity for 25,000 homes.
The council, in partnership with East Sussex County Council and Veolia, continues to explore options for introducing a food waste collection service and increasing the type of materials collected for recycling.
The council has investigated and is undertaking 4 projects piloting Whole Life Carbon Assessments in new council homes to estimate and measure their impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Two of the pilots are Homes for Neighbourhoods new build council housing projects, one is a Hidden Homes project converting an existing building to council housing, and one is the Madeira Terraces Regeneration project. All new build housing developments will undertake Whole Life Carbon Assessments from now on and one of the main outcomes will be homes with better insulation and low carbon heating systems. These high-quality new homes will cost more to build, but the new council tenants will benefit from lower energy bills.
The council’s updated New Homes Design Specification outlines the brief for how new council housing is built. It includes requirements for a circular economy evaluation to identify ways to reuse materials and avoid and reduce waste. A landscape led approach to projects will support incorporating Sustainable Urban Drainage features and improving biodiversity in developments. These changes will reduce habitat destruction and carbon emissions which are a consequence of construction.
A report to Housing Committee in June 2022 recommends adopting a Housing Supply Sustainability policy which sets targets for energy use, embodied carbon, and water use, following the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning policies promote sustainable buildings which are energy efficient and include renewable energy and biodiversity, supporting carbon neutral targets, within the limits of national planning advice. Carbon neutral development is promoted with developers, architects and agents, with the issue raised in pre-application discussions to encourage consideration during early stages of the design process.
City Plan Part Two extends and strengthens existing planning policies for sustainable development and is anticipated to be adopted Autumn 2022.
Key policies include:
City Plan Part One Review (work commencing 2022) will consider introducing further policy requirements for Circular Economy and sustainability.
The Community Infrastructure Levy is applied to new developments to secure funding to deliver the city’s low carbon infrastructure priorities and commenced in October 2020. The priorities for spend were updated in Autumn 2021.
New guidance on sustainability was created to supplement planning policies and Brighton & Hove City Council’s existing suite of guidance on topics such as biodiversity, swift boxes and Sustainable Urban Drainage.
2021 to 2022 saw the creation of a new Sustainability and Energy Team in the Housing Investment and Asset Management service to develop programmes towards the city’s 2030 Carbon Neutral target.
The programme to replace old inefficient boilers in council housing with efficient ‘A’ rated appliances continues: 671 boilers upgraded in 2021-22 will see an estimated annual saving of 288 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the boilers that were replaced. As part of Brighton & Hove City Council’s transition away from gas-fired boilers, we trialled the installation of Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) in our housing stock, replacing inefficient, expensive electric heating and water heaters. These installs informed a programme of a further 100-120 ASHPs planned for installation in 2022-23.
There are 4 communal gas heating systems in council housing across the city prioritised for replacement with low carbon solutions over the next few years, this will involve detailed options appraisal and consultation with residents.
Building on the successful EU-Interreg funded SOLARISE pilot at Buckley Close that allows tenants to directly benefit from the communal solar PV systems on their roof, 2021 to 2022 saw the completion and occupation of George Cooper House, a new temporary accommodation service for the council. Also part of the SOLARISE project, this pilot installed a multi-array solar PV system directly ‘wired’ to individual flats ensuring the residents receive the direct benefit of the electricity generated.
Learning from Buckley Close and George Cooper House will inform the roll-out of future renewable energy on communal roofs and will be considered alongside the roll-out of new solar PV installations on 1,000 council homes starting in 2022 to 2023.
This work is led by Brighton & Hove City Council’s Housing Strategy and Property and Investment team. Greater Brighton Economic Board have approved the setting up of a Task Force to ensure the city-region’s homes and buildings are fit for a zero-carbon future. This work is led by Lewes and Eastbourne Councils with the University of Brighton. The Task Force will report on emerging findings and will deliver an Asset Management Plan and Roadmap in October 2022.
Support for private households, tenants and landlords to make improvements to homes has continued throughout 2021 to 2022 with a focus on vulnerable residents, tackling cold homes and high fuel bills.
2021 to 2022 saw the second wave of the Solar Together Scheme, a collective solar PV purchasing scheme for homeowners, for Sussex local authorities operated by iChoosr. For year 2 of the scheme, two local contractors were appointed to survey and complete installations for Sussex residents in 2022.
In Autumn 2021 across Sussex:
The Brighton & Hove Local Biodiversity Action Plan is the background of the city’s important habitats and species. It forms the basis for work under the Environment Act 2021, such as developing a Local Nature Strategy/ Nature Recovery Network in partnership with a wide range of local organisations, mapping habitats and green spaces, and introducing measurable Biodiversity Net Gain planning guidance.
The council continues to replace and extend tree cover in Brighton & Hove, whilst diversifying woodland to ensure the long-term sustainability of the city’s tree stock (including a strategy to manage ash die-back) and maximise opportunities to increase biodiversity. In 2021/2022, 425 trees and 2,530 whips were planted. The Carbon Neutral. Funding will enable the planting of 200-300 street trees and between 800 and 150,000 parkland and woodland trees. (The reason for the breadth of range reflects the disparity in costs between planting a street tree, a standard tree in a park or grassed area and a tree whip).
The council is undertaking a three-year verge management pilot of reduced mowing for small, grass areas in order for them to be managed as natural green spaces to encourage biodiversity and nature.
Wilding Waterhall is working to ‘wild’ a former Brighton & Hove City Council Golf Course, to restore fragile chalk grassland and improve habitats for multiple species whilst offering a unique opportunity for local residents and visitors to learn more about our internationally important local environment.
This project is being led by Brighton & Hove City Council working closely with many local groups such as The Friends of Waterhall. Wilding Waterhall is part of a bigger project across the South Downs called Changing Chalk, and has recently been awarded National Lottery funding to deliver the project over the next 4 years. Wilding Waterhall is working with local volunteers to survey the site to create a biodiversity baseline. This will support site monitoring in the future by showing what positive or negative biodiversity impacts are caused by changes in management technique.
The City Downland Estate is owned by the council and farmed by tenant farmers. The council is creating a 10-year action plan, the City Downland Estate Plan. The vision of the draft CDEP is for
“A rejuvenated City Downland Estate [that] will be carbon negative and climate resilient, its biodiverse grassland landscape fully restored and teeming with wildlife. The estate will be a leader in sustainable farming, where local food production will flourish…”
Two key objectives are to reverse the loss of biodiversity on the estate, and to work towards (and beyond) carbon net zero.
In 2021 to 2022 a comprehensive public consultation was completed including a leaflet drop to every home in the city and online consultation events. The draft CDEP vision was agreed with Members and presented to the Downland Advisory Panel, the Asset Member Board and SDNPA members. Further consultation with the public and SDNPA members, with the presentation of the final CDEP to Policy and Resources committee (end of 2022) and to SDNPA for endorsement (early 2023).
The council works closely with our tenant farmers, many of which are in environmental stewardship, encouraging good farming practice contributing to the council’s carbon neutral target, in addition to improving biodiversity and ground water quality. The council has worked over the years with the South Downs National Park, Natural England, Southern Water, the University of Brighton, the Environment Agency, and other organisations, farmers and stakeholders in groundwater projects, particularly The Aquifer Partnership, seeking to reduce nitrate and ammonia inputs and encourage sustainable farming practices.
The council continues to explore measures for protecting and enhancing biodiversity, working towards restoring depleted soils, species-rich chalk grassland landscapes and natural farming methods, alongside carbon capture and carbon neutrality.
In 2021 a soil assessment on our City Downland Estate farms was undertaken by Farm Carbon Toolkit. The study included soil sampling to evaluate current carbon stocks and soil health status and potential to improve soil carbon sequestration.
Alongside this, the council is working to reduce chemical inputs into the environment and has already phased out pesticide use on all public land looked after by our environment and housing teams, except for high-risk invasive species with no effective alternative.
The Living Coast Biosphere brings partners together from across the region to enable sustainable and innovative socio-economic development, with a focus on restoring and enhancing the resilience of our natural environment, nature connection and awareness. The natural environment provides all the resources required for all life to thrive and is the springboard for all human development. Over the next two years the Biosphere partnership will continue to deliver the Biosphere programme of sustainability actions as well as preparing our formal application to UNESCO to be redesignated as a World Biosphere Region in 2024.
The EU Interreg funded BioCultural Heritage Tourism Project led by Visit Brighton developed responsible tourism opportunities around natural and cultural resources whilst reducing the impact tourism has on the environment. The project ran from 2018 to December 2021 and worked with regional partners to develop new responsible and experiential tourism offers to connect visitors with our world class natural environment. It also developed business resources such as planning tools, a sustainable business toolkit and marketing materials,
The Living Coast by Bike was developed with partners So Sussex as part of the BioCultural Heritage Tourism project. The Living Coast by Bike encourages residents and visitors to the region explore our world class natural environment more responsibly by creating new cycle routes that all connect to train stations, as well as reducing carbon emissions from transport. The website includes downloadable GPS route maps so cyclists can always be confident they know where they are and where they’re going!
The first Living Coast Artists Residency was hosted by Fabrica Gallery. This residency supported local artist Anna Dumitriu to explore the scientific, economic and social history of seaweed and how this resonates locally through people, places and The Living Coast goals. In October the council launched ‘Home’, a collection of new sculptures by artist David Watson with ONCA and Schools Without Walls to celebrate our Marine Conservation Zone Beachy Head West. David worked with pupils from three East Brighton schools to imagine what ‘home’ means for the more-than-human residents of the Marine Conservation Zone. The sculptures were developed from waste including salvaged aeroplane wheels and will be on the Undercliff Walk east of Brighton Marina until 2023.
Brighton & Hove City Council has made a commitment to work towards a healthier, more sustainable food system; one which reduces food poverty, supports local food businesses and reduces the environmental impact of the way in which we produce, consume and dispose of our food.
The council has an extensive programme of sustainable food actions together with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership (BHFP). The aim is to support a collaborative and city-wide effort to create a healthy, sustainable, and fair food system, and to use food to bring together community, farming and environmental interests on land management. In 2022, Brighton & Hove City Council signed the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration as part of our commitment to integrate food system policy with the climate and biodiversity crisis.
In 2020 the city received a Gold Sustainable Food City award, led by BHFP. A wide range of activities took place in 2021-22, with our strong networks of organisations collaborating in the city-wide effort, building on the award with campaigns for a more plant-based diet, less single-use plastics, reducing food waste and increasing local food growing, and tackling food poverty. Brighton & Hove Food Strategy Action Plan 2018 to 2023 combines the ecological transition with social justice.
In September 2021, city-wide activities for Brighton & Hove day of action on food and climate took place, and in March 2022, the council, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and Circular Brighton & Hove promoted Food Waste Action Week.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s Good Food Standards, updated in April 2021, are the council’s standards for purchasing food and catering services. They are applied to all future food and catering contracts and concessions. Property and estates, nurseries, schools and events are providing monitoring information. Opportunities for the ‘Dynamic Procurement of food’ are being explored and funding applied for.
In July 2021 the Greater Brighton Economic Board approved scoping work to investigate existing policy and partnerships in the Greater Brighton city region and offer the basis of a Greater Brighton Food Plan and a clear approach to collaborative work. The findings of the scoping report and recommendations will be presented to the Greater Brighton Board in July 2022.
In 2020 a Planning Advice Note on Food Growing in new developments was updated. Monitoring for 2020/2021 showed 50% of major planning applications for residential developments indicated there will be food-growing in the development.
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership were successful with their funding application for a ‘Demonstration project for landscape scale nature friendly agriculture on the chalk grassland surrounding Brighton & Hove, alongside the partnerships, engagement & wider food systems work that will underpin success’. This work links to the City Downland Estate Plan and will focus on carbon capturing regenerative agriculture and decarbonised food supply chains.
The Circular Economy Food Programme identifies actions to progress circular food activities and to create a healthy, sustainable, and fair food system in Brighton & Hove. Collaborations have formed going beyond food waste reduction, building a local supply chain based on regenerative farming and community resilience.
Surveys undertaken by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership of users and volunteers at community projects show food waste is an issue that matters to residents. Taking a preventative approach to avoid food being wasted was the single most important action raised at Circular Economy workshops held in 2021. BHFP led Community Composting, Surplus Food Network and Flavour projects are the pioneers in this work. Food Waste Champions are being recruited to support behaviour change across the community.
The Surplus Food Network is an alliance of organisations tackling food waste by working with suppliers to distribute surplus to people in need in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas. Membership of the network includes FareShare Sussex, the Real Junk Food Project Brighton, Sussex Homeless Support, the Sussex Gleaning Network, UKHarvest and is coordinated by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. The Network saved 1,309 tonnes of food from being wasted in 2021, feeding 5,870 people a week and saving 3,796 tonnes of Co2 emissions
Sussex Surplus is a pilot social enterprise from the charity Feedback taking fresh and surplus food in danger of being wasted and transforming it into long-life products and tasty meals that can then be sold wholesale to independent shops.
A successful bid to the National Lottery Climate Action Fund supports the Food Use Places project beginning in April 2022 in 10 community locations in Brighton. The vision of Food Use Places is to become champions of food use rather than places that manage food waste. It brings together circular economy and community development approaches to reduce food and packaging waste and increase composting. BHFP will be measuring change using the Food Use Hierarchy, prioritising work that reduces waste.
Other work includes:
The climate and biodiversity emergency is interlinked with the everyday concerns of people in the city – from the cost of energy, food and travel to clean air and the power of nature to improve wellbeing.
There is a wealth of positive action happening, led and co-ordinated by communities, businesses and individuals in the city. We want to build on this work, capture its impact and bring a more strategic and focussed approach to communications and engagement, to accelerate change.
A new Communications and Engagement Strategy outlines the approach we’ll take as a council to communicate and engage the city on climate action. Over the next year the council will be communicating and engaging on how tackling the cost of living, air pollution and building community wealth can result in a more sustainable way of life – that saving money can also save the planet.
The city-wide campaign has separate strands, to:
During 2022 the council will take part in UK100’s national Local Climate Engagement coaching programme. The council will put this training into practice on the co-design of a project and share learning in the council to improve our engagement on climate and biodiversity.
‘Move for Change’ powered by the BetterPoints app, launched in 2021 to encourage and reward residents and employees for walking, cycling, and using public transport. Residents and commuters to Brighton & Hove can earn points to be redeemed for discounts and vouchers at local shops. They can also be donated to support local charities.
The Better Points dashboard provides the carbon emissions avoided by users taking part in the Move for Change challenge. At June 2022, 2,532 people were taking part in the challenge. They have travelled 3,245,164 miles using sustainable travel modes and avoided 339 tonnes of CO2.
Move for Change offered extra points for car-free day 2021 which awarded free BTN Bikeshare passes and free bus travel to the Downs on the ‘Breeze Buses.’
The council worked with environmental partners and local residents to improve and extend coastal vegetated shingle habitat at Black Rock in compensation for the loss of a Local Wildlife Site. Almost 1,000 young plants were grown by Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst and include Crambe maritima (sea kale), Glaucium flavum (yellow-horned poppy) and Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet).
The project has raised awareness of the importance and rarity of coastal vegetated shingle habitat. The council brought together a Black Rock wildlife group to shape the scheme. This group has now become the Biodiversity Group for the Eastern Seafront and is involved in making sure biodiversity considerations are carried through into the Eastern Seafront Masterplan and Madeira Terrace project.
More than 200 residents attended drop-in sessions in 2021 to find out more about plans to sustainably regenerate the Eastern Seafront. Thirteen artists, nominated by local artists and arts organisations, created a unique alphabet of posters to reflect the seafront and draw attention to the project.
In 2022 the council launched climate e-learning for staff and intensive Carbon Literacy® training for senior managers, and are inviting them to make personal action plans to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency at work. By June 2022, more than 600 staff had completed the training, with excellent feedback.
Within the Our City, Our World schools programme, ten teachers attended the 4-hour AimHi Earth Climate and Nature course and 8 schools showed a recorded 1-hour condensed version of the training in staff meetings.
As well as regular news updates through the intranet and internal bulletins, the council created an open forum using Microsoft Teams for people in the council to share ideas, experiences, news, training and events about what they can do to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency at work.
In the run up to the COP 26 climate change conference, the council and its partners celebrated the Day of Action on Food & Climate and ran a Planetary Meal Challenge with staff to waste less food and eat a more plant-based diet. The month-long challenge increased awareness of the environmental and health benefits of the planetary diet with over 250 members of staff.
The council made the Ecosia sustainable search engine available for employees to use and included information about reducing your carbon footprint with our hybrid working guidance.
The education sector and young people are vital partners and have a long-term commitment to climate education and sustainability.
The council funds Brighton & Hove Environmental Education project (BHee) which provides activities and events for children to learn about sustainability as well as supporting materials and training for teachers. It includes free workshops, assemblies, teacher training and advice to local schools. Pupils can visit local sites of ecological interest and there is a free outdoor learning programme for teachers.
Local schools are working together to grow a City of Meadows – a pollinator network of micro, mini and medium meadows in 30 schools.
Local schools took part in an environmental education and art project inspired by the Marine Conservation Zone, installing sculptures on the Undercliff Walk.
During 2022/2023, Brighton & Hove schools are benefiting from a Circular Economy schools pilot, part of the BLUEPRINT project. The schools learn about the relevance of circular approaches for supporting climate action and apply this to specific materials and waste streams with dedicated input from city circular experts.
Our City, Our World is the new sustainability, climate change and environmental education strategy for Brighton & Hove schools. This will inform how education settings can be supported in delivering climate and environmental learning and action throughout the whole school community and across the curriculum and classroom learning.
The ‘Our City, Our World’ environmental vision and climate change plan for schools is being shaped in collaboration with schools through a headteacher’s climate steering group. This includes engagement events for headteachers, governors, facilities manager, business managers, and teachers.
In April 2022, over 50 leaders from local schools attended the Our City, Our World Net Zero conference, focusing on Leadership for Sustainability and meeting with local experts in energy, travel, food, resources and biodiversity to vision schools in 2030. Visions for schools in 2030 are being collated and will be worked into a schools action plan.
The Sussex Chamber of Commerce’s Local Skills Improvement Plan proposes working across East and West Sussex and the city of Brighton & Hove, to become a focal point for innovative education and skills development.
The government has pledged to create 2 million green jobs by 2030 but currently there is no list of what constitutes a green job. The Local Skills Improvement Plan has developed the first Open Skills Taxonomy for tagging green jobs, including non-green jobs in green industries (for example an accountant working for a wind farm) and green jobs in non-green industries (for example a litter picker at the council). The Open Jobs Observatory provides information about the skills requested by employers within their job recruitment adverts. Together these provide valuable information for recruitment, businesses, education providers and careers support.
The Sussex Learning Network through its Get Career Confident Programme has produced a directory which enables young people to find out about courses in Sussex Level 3 to 7, that link to sustainable and net-zero careers.
The council’s Pre-employment and Apprenticeship Manager will identify and monitor green apprenticeships. Current apprenticeships will be enhanced to ensure that they meet the needs of the employers within the growing green economy. New apprenticeships will be created to reflect new occupations to meet the challenge to reach net carbon zero.
FE Sussex, a collaborative partnership between eight Sussex further education colleges, was awarded £7m Department for Education Strategic Development Funding for Greener Sussex to improve green industry, technology and skills locally.
Greener Sussex is investing more than £7 million in new learning resources, staff training, employer updating and student awareness raising across Sussex.
The project comprises 5 strands, 2 of which are managed by colleges in Brighton & Hove:
Transitioning to a circular economy is a key part of the solution to tackle climate change as 45% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the extraction, processing and production of goods and growing food. It also tackles the biodiversity crisis, as keeping products and materials in use for longer reduces the need for newly mined materials, a major cause of global habitat loss.
The Circular Economy Routemap and Action Plan were approved by the Policy and Resources Committee in May 2022. The Circular Economy Member Working Group steers the programme and monitors progress. An advisory Oversight Board includes representatives from University of Brighton and Sussex University, Circular Brighton & Hove, Greater Brighton and the city’s Economic Partnership.
Understanding the challenges businesses face and how we can support and facilitate their journey is the aim of the council’s Inclusive Economy project. This project works with small and medium-size businesses (SMEs) to lower their carbon footprint through the adoption of circular practices. A scoping workshop with business support stakeholders in December 2021 gathered information on existing business support and summarised high / low impacts including creation of Circular Economy knowledge hubs; specific business support that creates circular opportunities; and developing policy actions aimed at incentivising businesses.
A second workshop with SMEs is planned to evaluate the options for business support, such as hubs for circular activity and support for community-led initiatives and confirm which would have the greatest up-take and impact.
The council’s New Homes Design Specification outlines the brief for building new council housing. It has been updated to include requirements to estimate and measure the amount of reused and recycled materials used, and materials which can be reused or recycled at the end of their lifespan. Projects will now go through a circular economy evaluation to identify ways to reuse materials and avoid and reduce waste. This will reduce the impact of development on the environment with less extraction of raw materials. It will allow buildings to become materials banks for the future, where it is easier to reuse materials rather than demolish and send waste to landfill. Tenants of new council homes can expect high quality new homes, and these changes will reduce habitat destruction and carbon emissions which are a consequence of construction.
The council's commitment to embed Circular Economy principles in the new City Plan (currently being developed) was reiterated in the Circular Economy Action Plan.
A focussed review of Waste and Mineral Local Plan policies is nearing completion and includes a policy for the sustainable use of aggregates in the construction sector:
“Innovative proposals that a) minimise the quantities of aggregates used in construction, and (b) prioritise the use of recycled and secondary aggregate over virgin aggregate, are encouraged and will be supported.”
A full review of the entire plan (expected to start in 2023) will provide more scope for fully considering how revised waste and minerals policies can implement circular economy principles.
Brighton & Hove is collaborating with 9 other partners from England and France to reuse materials and reduce the creation of waste. BLUEPRINT to a Circular Economy provides practical solutions for designing out waste and pollution by reusing, repairing and recycling existing resources. It includes household behaviour change activities, working with communities to encourage re-use, repair and recycling on textiles, food waste, electronics, and plastics. ‘Circular schools’ workshops with five schools, each focused on a different waste stream, and development of educational materials are shared with ten schools to support classroom learning. This will inform the schools Environmental and Climate Education Strategy.
The council launched the circular economy champions scheme – a volunteer scheme for residents. The champions play an important part in inspiring their local communities to change behaviour to reduce food, textiles and electronics waste and encourage better household recycling. BLUEPRINT’s Instagram campaign, highlighting tips, information and events about the circular economy, has reached 85,000 residents, exceeding its target of 50,000.
Founded on circular economy thinking, local non-profit enterprise Tech-Takeback started in 2016, collecting donations of unwanted gadgets, and refurbishing and re-distributing them to schools, charities and families.
In February 2022, budget council agreed further funding of £68k for the city’s RevaluElectricals electric doorstep collection service delivered by Tech-Takeback. Since July 2020, Tech-Takeback have carried out 3,028 doorstep collections, collected 40,115 small electrical items, disassembled 8,043 items for specialist recycling, and passed on 6,558 items to people who need them via charity partners including Digital Brighton & Hove, Refugee Radio, and Freegle.
With a meanwhile lease from the council, Tech-Takeback opened the Revaluit storefront in March 2022, selling refurbished electricals and sharing repair skills. An estimated 2,882 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been saved, equivalent to 6,672 barrels of oil consumed.
Climate adaptation is about managing or avoiding the risks that climate change will bring. The most significant climate hazards faced by Brighton & Hove are biodiversity loss linking directly to food security; heat stress; drought and water stress; urban and coastal flooding; storms and heavy precipitation; future pandemics; air, soil and water pollution.
To prepare for extreme weather, the council's civil contingencies team produces a major incident plan which is reviewed annually.
As the coast protection authority, Brighton & Hove City Council has adopted the Brighton Marina to River Adur Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy to provide protection for the next 100 years.
In partnership with Adur District Council and Shoreham Port Authority, Brighton & Hove City Council submitted a successful funding bid to the Environment Agency for £14 million for the detailed design and construction of the scheme. Design commenced in Spring 2021, with the first elements of construction due at the end of 2022. Carbon emissions will be assessed and reported during scheme development, particularly the construction phase.
In 2021 the council, as Lead Local Flood Authority, commissioned a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and a Surface Water Management Plan. These plans identify locations where flooding is of concern. The next step is a feasibility study to look at the most appropriate measures to manage flood risk. Carbon emissions will be considered in the feasibility study as part of the option appraisal process.
A SUDs officer was recruited to convene departments across the council to investigate opportunities where SUDs can be used to sustainably manage Surface Water run-off. A city-wide programme of SUDs schemes could supplement surface water management activities to protect the properties and businesses of the city from surface water and extreme weather events.
The Aquifer Partnership (TAP) has won funding to improve a small area in Wild Park in Brighton, creating an attractive natural landscape. Designed around several shallow planted basins which hold water during heavy rainfall, known as rainscapes, it will reduce pollution and improve the area for people and nature.
The SCAPE project develops Landscape-led Design solutions for water management that make coastal landscapes more resilient to climate change and flood risk. The project has been part funded under the European Union’s Interreg 2 Seas programme.
In 2018, the council invited design proposals to improve the environments of Carden Avenue and Norton Road, to divert surface water run-off away from vulnerable properties in these areas. External experts, council representatives and the local community selected design solutions.
The design for the Carden Avenue pilot scheme mimics natural systems in which gravity and landform remove excess rainwater flow to reduce the risk of flooding to affected properties and contamination of the city’s aquifer. Construction works on Phase 1 were completed in 2020 and Phase 2 is expected to complete in 2022. Preliminary assessment suggests this approach has been successful in storing excess run-off and can be three times cheaper than traditional underground solutions.
Six new drinking water fountains are being installed in popular areas of the city in a bid to cut plastic use and litter.
Two fountains are already in use at Hove Lagoon and Hove seafront and four more are being placed at Churchill Square, Palace Pier, Hove Town Hall, and Brighton Station. They are installed by Brighton & Hove City Council and Southern Water. If successful, more fountains could be installed in other parts of the city. The fountains are located in heavily concreted, urban hotspots prone to overheating during hot days. This adapts the city by providing an option for people to hydrate themselves, reducing the risk of heat stress as climate change makes high temperature days more frequent.
A climate risk and vulnerability assessment will be commissioned in 2022. This will provide a baseline assessment to identify the areas and communities of the city most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and where methods of adaptation would be best implemented.
Brighton & Hove City Council recognises that offsetting carbon emissions is likely necessary to meet our carbon target, ideally nature-based solutions like habitat restoration, the creation and long-term management of species-rich chalk grasslands, tree planting and woodland creation. We want to make sure that the local environment and communities benefit from any offsetting investment aligning to restore biodiversity and overlapping with nature’s recovery – so we seek solutions within the council’s geographical boundary or supply chain. At present the council does not purchase any carbon offset credits and there is no offsetting framework that we recommend to local businesses and developers.
In 2021, the council investigated the carbon potential of nature-based solutions in our area, completing a detailed study with Anthesis of carbon savings from a tree-planting project at Carden Park, using Woodland Carbon Code metrics. Farm Carbon Toolkit surveyed the carbon sequestration potential of soils in the Downland Estate. Sussex Local Nature Partnership is also investigating the potential of natural habitats for carbon sequestration.
Brighton & Hove City Council is working with other councils nationally on Authority-Based Insetting – an alternative to traditional offsetting. Authority Based Insetting is a mechanism to make more carbon removal projects happen locally; to enable better reporting of carbon reduction; to provide financial incentives and increase collaboration. This framework may be more of an engagement tool than a way of stimulating large-scale investment.
The procurement by the council of goods, works and services is a strategic priority to drive significant carbon reductions and environmental improvement.
In 2021 a Sustainability and Social Value Procurement Manager was recruited. This post is working with Brighton & Hove City Councillors, Executive Directors, Heads of Service, Commissioners and the Head of Procurement. Progress to date:
Over 2021 to 2022, collaborating with Orbis partners East Sussex and Surrey County Council, the council has been developing a new Environmentally Sustainable procurement policy.
This policy builds on the themes already present in our Sustainable Procurement policy and focuses on 4 areas:
This new policy will give the council’s suppliers the information they need to meet our 2030 Carbon Neutral requirements. It will ensure environmental sustainability is embedded at the earliest stages of commissioning and procurement decision making. It will also develop a robust approach to data collection processes and reporting of supplier emissions throughout supply chains.
Pending committee approval in September 2022, the council is looking forward to using the new policy to maximise environmentally positive outcomes from our tenders.
The majority of the council’s financing for actions in the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme are sourced from general capital and revenue funding – for example improving energy efficiency in our council housing. The council also actively applies for significant sums from external grant funding; recent successful awards include:
The council has allocated capital funding to a Carbon Neutral Fund which supports in-house projects that advance the carbon neutral and biodiversity programmes. The CNF, and its predecessor the SCRIF, along with the one-off Climate Action Fund for transport and travel projects, has funded £8.9 million of projects since 2019.
Carbon Neutral Fund Round
Allocated to projects
2021/22 CNF-Transport & Travel
2021/22 Climate Action Fund
The Greater Brighton Economic Board is creating a regional investment plan for blue/green infrastructure (energy, nature and water) to help the Board more effectively draw on public funding and private investment opportunities.
This Investment Plan will be the product of an ambitious collaboration between the public and private sector, with expertise being provided by local universities. It will outline the region’s investment requirements to become leaders in the UK’s green industrial revolution. The narrative set out will show strong and co-operative regional leadership and will distinguish us in the South East as forerunners in developing an innovation led low-carbon economy.
The city council’s pension fund is managed by East Sussex County Council Pension Board. According to Divest East Sussex, which campaigns for the ESCC Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels, the Fund’s reported ‘fossil fuel exposure’ at March 2021 was £82.2 million. Since then, this exposure has fallen and by July 2021 its actual exposure to fossil fuel producers may now be as low as 0.5% (around £24 million) of a total Pension Fund valued at £4.74 billion.
To show the council’s commitment to climate action, the council attended the COP26 global climate event in Glasgow in November 2021 and gave a statement on our food and climate work. The council became a signatory to the following campaigning declarations: