Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in December 2018 alongside an ambition for the city to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The council’s corporate plan, Our plan 2020 to 2023 – a fairer city, a sustainable future, sets out a series of priorities, including to take all action required to make our city carbon neutral by 2030 (CN2030).

This programme is our response to the climate and biodiversity emergency. It sets the direction for action on climate change by the council, partners and residents across the city for the next decade.

It focuses on social justice and future generations alongside rapid decarbonisation.

This programme sets out clear actions and interventions required on the path to net zero emissions, starting immediately.

In December 2019, Policy and Resources Committee approved the establishment of the cross-party 2030 Carbon Neutral Member Working Group to oversee the creation and delivery of a Carbon Neutral Programme to help the city to transition to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Foreword by leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

The creation of this carbon neutral programme is a monumental development, setting out the ways we will combat the climate crisis in our city. 

This 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 last year 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.

Climate action for all residents

We believe that the city can only achieve its carbon neutral ambitions with all city organisations, businesses, communities, residents and visitors working together to find solutions for the challenges we face. 

Central to the city’s ambition is taking a joined-up approach to delivering projects and initiatives that:

  • protect and promote our environment
  • facilitate behaviour change
  • support city resilience to the impacts of climate change
  • nurture the skills and opportunities we need to help our economy grow and prosper 

The council’s response to the serious challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic highlights the need for a green recovery and demonstrates how we can work together across the city at all levels.

It's particularly important that climate action is fair and inclusive and ensures that all residents have an opportunity to participate.

Climate change impacts different sections of society differently and the impacts of climate change could make existing inequalities worse within the city.

The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequalities, like poor housing and overcrowded conditions, making self-isolation impossible, and cold damp homes affecting people’s health and resilience.

The council is working hard to reduce its own corporate carbon emissions, but in total these contribute less than 2% of the city’s emissions.

The carbon neutral 2030 target is a city-wide one and needs participation from residents, schools, businesses and institutions across the city. 

We have engaged with the city at many levels through the climate assembly, the Youth Climate Assembly, city-wide partnerships, behaviour change campaigns, formal consultations and support for community action.

Individual projects within the 2030 Carbon Neutral programme will do their own consultations and equalities impact assessments, if needed.

Working across our region

To be successful, this programme needs participation and collaboration with many stakeholders and partnerships across the city, as well as engaging Brighton & Hove’s residents.

Action is required at all levels: international, national and local.

As a leading city, Brighton & Hove develops solutions and shares good practice with regional partners and other cities. 

For example, Brighton & Hove City Council is lead partner in The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere, which is the UK’s only urban biosphere reserve that contributes to sustainable development projects that also protect and conserve the natural environment. 

Shared learning locally, regionally, nationally and globally across the world network of biospheres is a key objective of this partnership.

Working with Greater Brighton, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport for the South East and the Greater South East Energy Hub is key to delivering programmes to reduce carbon in our infrastructure and economy at the rate and scale we need, including where we need to secure support from government.

We work with key partners including the local universities, electricity and gas companies, The Living Coast Biosphere, and the Sussex Local Nature Partnership to create projects that will accelerate progress on climate action and build green skills and jobs.

More information and how to get involved

Find more information about the council’s climate actions and what you can do to cut your own carbon footprint.

Measuring and reporting progress

We will report annually on the city’s progress on climate action and carbon emissions.

We will also provide quarterly updates on the delivery of the programme to committees, through the council’s performance reporting framework.

A Key Performance Indicator on reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be monitored annually from 2020 to 2021 onwards, using data provided by ScatterCities.

Not all the actions in this programme will generate carbon savings that we can measure, but where data is available for the council’s direct emissions it will be included.

Where it’s not possible to measure carbon savings, we indicate if the impact is high, medium, or low.

The council is working towards reporting progress to the Global Covenant of Mayors, through the Carbon Disclosure Project CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System.

Find news stories on climate action.

Continuing development of this programme

Action on climate change is fast-moving. So, this is a living programme of high-level actions, which can be responsive to developments over its life. 

Likely developments include:

  • new scientific information on pathways to net zero
  • advances in Best Available Techniques (BAT) to give the best environmental or health outcomes
  • significant changes in local, national or international policy and funding on climate change and energy
  • learning and best practice from other cities and partners

Responding to these challenges is complex and depends on many factors.

The CN2030 programme runs until 2030. Most actions in the current programme focus on the period to 2023, and there are some longer-term actions that are less detailed.

Key issues for future development are:

  • refining estimates of greenhouse gas emissions sources and sinks, to help identify additional priority areas for action and track progress towards the carbon neutral target
  • further engagement with major local businesses and organisations to elevate ambition and align climate action across the city
  • a carbon offsetting framework to enable more local carbon cutting projects
  • investigating alternative finance for climate action
  • developing the circular economy, especially in the construction industry
  • solutions for scaling up energy efficiency retrofits for private housing
  • understanding the carbon footprint of consumables, like food and clothes

This programme will be reviewed in 2023 in line with the council's corporate plan for 2020 to 2023, which aims to deliver a fairer city with a sustainable future.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s Carbon Neutral programme

The Carbon Neutral programme is a coordinated programme of projects that aims to continue and accelerate the city’s transition to carbon neutrality by 2030.  


As the bulk of action will need to take place in the short term, this programme focuses on the period to 2023, with less detail on the remaining period to 2030. Some projects are indicated for further development over the next few years. 

Project time frames are: 

  • short term - 2021 to 2023  
  • medium term - 2024 to 2026 
  • long term - 2027 to 2030 

How the plan is structured

The plan is structured over the following key priority areas, with several cross-cutting themes to demonstrate the broader impact of actions targeted in each theme.   

The key priority topics are:

  • travel and transport  
  • energy and water  
  • waste 
  • built environment   
  • nature and environment - food, land use and agriculture 

The cross-cutting themes are:

  • community engagement 
  • jobs, education and skills 
  • circular economy 
  • adaptation 
  • carbon offsetting 
  • procurement 

Timeline of climate action in Brighton & Hove City Council

1880 to 1947 - purchase of Downland Estate

2006 - adoption of Sustainable Community Strategy 'Creating the City of Opportunities'

2006 to 2007 - Neighbourhood Action on Climate Change – community behaviour change project

2010 - Climate Change Adaptation Scrutiny Panel

2009 to 2012 - Climate Connections - global awareness and city behaviour change project

2011 - Local Climate Impacts Profile for Brighton & Hove

2011 - Brighton & Hove Climate Change Strategy – an early commitment to climate change action

2014 - The Living Coast Biosphere formally designated by UNESCO

2015 - fourth Local Transport Plan includes a carbon reduction objective to reduce transport emissions

2016 - City Plan adopted – includes policies on sustainability of new homes and non-residential buildings

2011 to 2017 - Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) adopts the One Planet Living Framework for overseeing actions to improve sustainability

December 2018 - BHCC Members declare a climate and biodiversity emergency

September 2019 - BHCC creates fund to encourage climate action within the council (SCRIF)

July 2020 - Greater Brighton agrees Energy Plan and Water Plan

September to November 2020 - BHCC hosts climate assembly on travel and transport

October 2020 - Brighton & Hove Youth Climate Assembly

October 2020 - Greater Brighton signs 10 pledges on climate action

November 2020 - Brighton & Hove awarded Gold Food Sustainable City

November 2020 - consultation starts on the Downland Estate Plan

December 2020 - council leader Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty signs Glasgow Declaration

December 2020 - BHCC Circular Economy Routemap and programme for the city receives committee approval

January 2021 - council agrees grants for community projects which tackle climate emergency and biodiversity

February 2021 - launch of Hydrogen Sussex

March 2021 - Carbon Neutral 2030 Programme

April 2021 - Brighton & Hove joins the blueprint to a circular economy project with partners in England and France

May 2021 - BHCC becomes a member of the UK 100 campaign of councils committing to reducing their emissions to net zero by 2030

Brighton & Hove’s carbon neutral target

The council has set an ambitious target for the whole city to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

Brighton & Hove’s carbon emissions profile  

The starting point is the city’s current emissions of greenhouse gases, which were 1,242 kilotonnes (KT CO2e) in 2018 (the most recent year that full data is available for).

This includes air travel and shipping. Data is provided by ScatterCities.

Total carbon emissions in the city have fallen by just over a third since 2005.

The largest cut has come from electricity, as the National Grid gets more renewable electricity from wind farms and solar power. 

The chart below shows the proportion of greenhouse gas emissions coming from different sectors in the city of Brighton & Hove in 2018.

  • 435 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent came from transport
  • 399 kilotonnes from energy and water
  • 391 kilotonnes from the built environment
  • 22 kilotonnes from waste
  • 16 kilotonnes from land use and agriculture

The following graph shows how carbon emissions in Brighton & Hove have changed between 2005 and 2018.

Total carbon emissions from the city in 2018 were 900 kilotonnes, down from nearly 1,400 kilotonnes in 2005.

Emissions from electricity use have declined the most, while emissions from gas and transport have fallen a little over the period.

Target 2030 

Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) carbon neutral target requires the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to fall by 12.7% every year 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. 

Carbon emissions collect and stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so it's important to act as soon as possible.  

The graph below shows some scenarios for reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions from 2017 to 2050 in Brighton & Hove.

A dotted orange line shows what is likely to happen if the city takes no action and relies solely on national efforts. In this case greenhouse gases fall by about half by 2050.

A solid blue line shows Brighton & Hove City Council’s target, which is a cut of 12.7% every year, reaching almost zero emissions by 2050.

A dotted grey line about half way between the 2 other lines shows a scenario if the city takes ambitious action, outlined in this programme.

This top-down analysis shows a gap between the estimated modelled BHCC pathway and the carbon neutral target.

This is because modelling assumptions are based on present day evidence and actions. Work will continue towards the goal to close that gap.  

Pathway to carbon neutral 

This programme shows how a pathway to cutting carbon across Brighton & Hove could be followed, with the participation of:

  • residents
  • communities
  • businesses 
  • organisations

Programme actions take into account the council’s influence and public expectations. 

Early estimates are that the actions in the programme could help cut nearly a third of the city’s carbon emissions by 2030.

In addition, national actions (particularly decarbonisation of the electricity grid) could save another third. 

The following graph shows the contribution that each sector could make to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Brighton & Hove by 2030.

Transport has the greatest potential for cutting emissions, followed by energy and water.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s corporate carbon footprint 

The council’s greenhouse gas emissions were only a tiny fraction (1.7%) of the city’s emissions in 2018.  

The council has been working to reduce carbon emissions within its own operations and estate. 

The council’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) footprint in 2018 to 2019 was 21,793 tonnes CO2e, a reduction of 9.9% on the previous year.  

The council’s carbon emissions have reduced by 47% over the 10 years to 2019, meeting BHCC’s existing targets. 

Action has included:

  • getting rid of oil boilers
  • installing solar panels on council buildings 
  • modernisation of street lighting

With BHCC’s current capacity of installed Solar PV and planned investment, we expect the proportion of the council’s self-generated Solar PV electricity to increase from 1% in 2018 to 2019 to 14% by 2023 to 2024. 

The chart below shows greenhouse gas emissions from Brighton & Hove City Council’s corporate property and activities during 2019 to 2020. This includes:

  • 2,604 tonnes of greenhouse gases, or 13%, came from corporate electricity
  • 2,102 tonnes, or 11% came from corporate heating
  • 1,085 tonnes, or 5% came from electricity used in council housing
  • 3,327 tonnes, or 17% came from heating used in council housing
  • 2,282 tonnes or 12% came from school electricity
  • 3,731 tonnes, or 19% came from school heating
  • 2,136 tonnes, or 11% came from street lighting
  • 2,359 tonnes, or 12% came from fuel for the council’s fleet

What carbon neutral means 

Carbon neutral means that carbon emissions will be reduced as far as possible.

Any remaining carbon emissions are offset through carbon sinks or carbon reduction projects.

Net zero carbon is another term that means the same thing.  

BHCC’s science-based target 

The Tyndall Centre has calculated science-based carbon emissions targets for UK local councils, showing how each can make its fair contribution to the Paris Climate Change Agreement to stay well below 2C global warming.

Brighton & Hove’s target is to emit no more than a maximum 5.9 million tonnes CO2 between 2020 and 2100.

This pathway requires a yearly minimum reduction of 12.7% in CO2 emissions, starting immediately. 

Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions 

‘Carbon emissions’ means carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted when fossil fuels are burned in vehicles, buildings, industrial processes and so on.

CO2 is one of the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) identified by the Kyoto Protocol, which warm the atmosphere.

There are 6 greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorocarbons, often referred to together as ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ (CO2e). 

Nitrous oxide from diesel and petrol combustion is a potent greenhouse gas and also dangerous to human health when inhaled. 

‘Carbon emissions’ is often used as a catch-all term to include both carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  

This Carbon Neutral 2030 programme target is for all greenhouse gases. Where data on greenhouse gases is not available, data on carbon dioxide is used instead.  

Travel and transport

The pie chart above shows that transport was responsible for 435 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018.

Over a third of Brighton & Hove’s carbon emissions come from transport. This includes estimates for shipping and plane flights by Brighton & Hove residents. 

We need a shift to public transport and active forms of travel to bring down carbon and nitrous oxide emissions, which affect everyone in the city. 

Switching from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric and hydrogen vehicles will save carbon emissions and improve air quality, as will a reduction in the length and number of vehicle trips.  

Brighton & Hove City Council held a climate assembly from September 2020 to November 2020, on the topic of travel and transport. 

The key question was, ‘How can we step up actions to reduce transport-related carbon emissions in the city?’ 

The climate assembly asked for: 

  • individuals to be given every opportunity to change the way they travel to reduce emissions, improve air quality and create a safer, accessible and more pleasant environment 
  • transport providers to make low emissions transport affordable and easy to use 

They made 10 recommendations, which will be considered by the council in developing its fifth Local Transport Plan and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan: 

  1. A car-free city centre – being taken forward as a ‘liveable city centre’ 
  1. The public transport system should be affordable/accessible 
  1. Creation of healthier low traffic/pedestrianised communities 
  1. The council should actively consult and engage with the community 
  1. Introduce mobility hubs - these are recognisable places which provide and connect up different types of travel, like cycle hire, bus, rail, car club, parking and transport information 
  1. Cyclists should be prioritised over cars through well-designed dedicated cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure 
  1. Introduce a park and ride to minimise car use in the city 
  1. Make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car 
  1. Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose and educate/expand citizens knowledge 
  1. There should be a focus on rewards rather than punishments in order to create change

Key actions

Local Transport Plan 5

To do this, we will:

  • create a strategy setting out the priorities for transport and travel in the city up to 2030 which will support:
    • a more inclusive and accessible city
    • reduced carbon emissions
    • improve air quality
    • improve public health
    • create safer streets
    • create a stronger more sustainable local economy
  • focus on reducing the need to travel, managing demand and promoting and providing safe, inclusive, sustainable and healthy alternative travel options

The timeframe for this will be short, medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high. The key partners will be transport operators, businesses and educational establishments. 

We will also:

  • develop options for projects including a Liveable City Centre, expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and Mobility Hubs 

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be high. The key partners will be Transport operators, businesses and technology companies.

Create an inclusive and integrated transport system

To do this, we will:

  • improve access to all parts of our city and our services for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities
  • expand the Bike Share scheme to deliver a citywide scheme with 50% electric bikes 
  • support an Assisted Cycle Hub on Brighton seafront 

The timeframe for this will be ongoing. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. 

Develop a public realm which enables active travel 

To do this, we will:

  • develop an active and sustainable travel network 
  • deliver a School Streets programme to improve road safety and air quality outside schools 
  • invest in the maintenance of the city’s road and pavement network 
  • promote physical activity, reducing social isolation 

The timeframe for this will be ongoing. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high. 

Increase use of public transport 

To do this, we will:

  • encourage mixed forms of travel with good transport interchanges and better integration of travel information and ticket purchasing 
  • work with public transport operators to improve infrastructure, including bus stops, bus shelters, Real Time Information and station improvements 
  • continue to support bus services, especially in more remote areas that are not commercially viable 
  • support and encourage the use of sustainable transport in the local visitor economy through the BioCultural Heritage Tourism project, and development of The Living Coast by Bike portal 

The timeframe for this will be ongoing. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high. The key partners will be transport operators and The Living Coast.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan 

To do this, we will:

  • prioritise a programme of improvements, focusing on principal walking and cycling routes, including in town and local centres
  • aim to make walking and cycling the first choice for local journeys 
  • create a 10 year programme of investment, including delivery of secure on-street cycle storage 

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high. 

Promote and use technology to reduce and manage travel

To do this, we will:

  • work with partners to attract investment in ultrafast broadband infrastructure across the city and enable home working  
  • increase the use of smart traffic signals 

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium. The key partners will be technology companies. 

Promote and facilitate the use of zero emission and electric vehicles 

To do this, we will:

  • install hundreds of on street electric charging points and rapid charging hubs for taxis  

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high. The key partners will be transport operators and council contractors.

Improve air quality 

To do this, we will:

  • improve air quality through clean buses, taxis and delivery vehicles and seek further investment in zero emission buses
  • continue to implement an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in city centre and consider expansion of the zone 
  • reduce carbon emissions from council-owned vehicles 

The timeframe for this will be ongoing. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partners will be buses, taxi and delivery companies. 

Related plans and policies 

These will include the:

Energy and water

The pie chart above shows that 399 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases came from energy and water, just under a third of all greenhouse gases from the city of Brighton & Hove in 2018.

Why energy is so important

Energy is essential for our city, it:

  • provides heat for homes
  • powers our transport
  • keeps our healthcare system running

To maintain our quality of life, we need to set up an energy supply that is: 

  • affordable
  • locally generated
  • green

There are high levels of fuel poverty due to rising energy prices, energy inefficient housing and low incomes.

Living in a cold home with bad ventilation can cause health issues like respiratory problems and depression.

What you'll find in this section

This section covers:

  • reducing energy consumption
  • providing greater access to renewable energy
  • making sure existing homes are affordable and healthy to live in

This means:

  • new renewable energy generation technologies
  • an engaged community who want to make change
  • a focus on new business models that can transform our local energy systems

Why becoming carbon neutral is important

Energy-efficient homes reduce waste energy and the demand for non-renewable energy. They may also be cheaper and healthier to live in.

We can only transition to Carbon Neutral by 2030 if we can remove carbon from our energy and water infrastructure on a bigger scale. So, working at a city region and wider south east region scale will be needed for success.

The council will work closely with partners of the Greater Brighton Economic Board and Greater Brighton Infrastructure Panel to provide ambitious solutions for low carbon infrastructure across the city region.

Greater Brighton energy and water plans

These plans, agreed in 2020, brought together public sector, business and academic stakeholders across the city region.

They identified opportunities for energy and water infrastructure that will support our goals and actions to remove carbon and help economic growth in renewable energy, power, heat and transport.

Learning and sharing information between local councils was important in this rapidly evolving technology, financial and regulation.

Recently, there's an increased focus on the potential to build hydrogen production, distribution and end uses in the city region, particularly for heavy vehicles.

The water plan identified challenges in cutting the amount of clean drinking water we use. This would be to reduce the impacts of the predicted water shortages to the region in the next decade.

Water and wastewater treatment use energy, so cutting how much we use will also reduce carbon emissions.

Existing homes

Energy efficiency in housing and buildings is important in reducing carbon emissions. The council has a role to play in energy upgrades and retrofitting, through:

  • organising and coordination
  • being a trusted partner
  • supporting the growth of local skills and supply chain

The council is developing an extensive plan for:

  • solar PV (photovoltaic)
  • replacement of heating and hot water
  • energy efficiency in council housing

It's also working with residents to change behaviour, where required, and make sure they get maximum benefit from the retrofit programme.

There is significantly more private housing than council housing, so this is where we can make greater carbon savings. Although, this relies more on government action and funding.

To promote the retrofit of private homes, the council is working with partners, including:

  • Solar Together Sussex
  • Warmer Sussex
  • Local Energy Advice Partnership

Council property

The council has been improving its own stock of housing by identifying where energy use is not efficient. It's also been working with site managers to save energy and water and improve the efficiency of gas, electricity and oil use.

In the near future there will be a focus on low carbon heat technology. Surveys will be done in schools and housing centres that may be suitable for this technology. Control and monitoring systems will also be improved.

In 2021 to 2022, a programme to install 500 kW of solar PV in corporate, housing and leisure sites will save 150 tonnes CO2 a year.

The council will transfer its energy supply to renewable sources as existing contracts end.


Some of the biggest challenges we're facing are:

  • 38% of the city’s carbon emissions are from gas, 26% from electricity
  • scaling up energy efficiency retrofit of private homes - rented and owner-occupied - presents long-term, logistical and engagement issues
  • heating is difficult to decarbonise, it needs a mix of solutions, heat networks, and long-term programmes to replace gas boilers
  • local supply chain for new energy technologies needs to be developed further
  • smart energy systems are essential but need complex systems

Key actions

Reduce CO2 emissions from council owned properties

To do this, we will:

  • work towards a fully renewable electricity supply in council property
  • develop an investment plan for transitioning council buildings to carbon neutral

Building audits will measure opportunities, identify and prioritise planned self-financing energy saving projects on council assets. For example, replacing old lightbulbs with LEDs is expected to pay back the cost of the LED in 4 to 5 years in lower electricity bills.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy projects will be done using the savings reinvested. 

The timeframe for this will be short, medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be high.

We will also:

  • deliver a major programme of renewable energy, solar PV and energy efficiency retrofitting on council housing

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be 1,291 tonnes per year. The timeframe will be medium term.

Reduce carbon emissions from council-owned vehicles

To do this:

  • our fleet of council vehicles will become carbon neutral - we will reduce diesel vehicles and plan through delivery of the Fleet Strategy

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be high. The timeframe will be medium and long term.

Street lighting modernisation

To do this we will: 

  • replace street lighting with LEDs - this will be part of continuing work on the street lighting modernisation programme

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be 2,360 tonnes in 2021. The timeframe will be short term.

Improve standards in private housing

To do this we will:

  • continue to explore partnerships and urge for investment and solutions for increasing the retrofit of private housing to improve energy efficiency

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be medium. The timeframe will be long term.

We'll also:

  • increase capacity for hazard inspection and Energy Performance Certificate non-compliance
  • consider creating a private rented sector team to enforce housing and energy efficiency standards
  • support the growth of good landlord schemes 

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be medium. The timeframe will be short term.

Finally, we will:

  • address fuel poverty through a programme of energy efficiency in council-owned housing  

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. It will have a low impact on CO2 emissions.

Support a resilient, zero carbon and smart energy system through delivery of the Greater Brighton Energy Plan

To do this we will:

  • deliver planned projects and work in partnership with Greater Brighton Economic Board and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership to get investment in the city's infrastructure

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be high. The timeframe will be short, medium and long term.

Working in partnership with Greater Brighton, we will: 

  • establish the Greater Brighton Hydrogen Group to support the transition to more use of hydrogen power across the city region

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be high. The timeframe will be medium and long term.

We will:

  • deliver a feasibility study on hydrogen power

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be low. The timeframe will be short term.

We will: 

  • make a business case and get approval to develop a solar farm

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be high. The timeframe will be medium term.

We will:

  • promote heat networks through the Planning system and develop a district heat network study at Conway Street to see if a heat network is possible in this area

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be medium. The timeframe will be short, medium and long term.

We'll also: 

  • explore the potential for a heat decarbonisation plan, including options to replace gas boilers

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be medium. The timeframe will be medium term.

Finally, we will:

  • continue a rolling programme of investment and trials of renewable technologies that save carbon

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be medium. The timeframe will be short, medium and long term.

Facilitate a resilient, integrated water environment through Greater Brighton Water Plan

To do this, we will: 

  • continue participation and delivery of The Aquifer Project (TAP) to protect and improve the quality of groundwater in the Brighton chalk aquifer as a sustainable resource for public water supply

The impact on CO2 emissions for this will be low. The timeframe will be short and medium term.

Related plans and policies

Some of the plans related to the energy and water section of the Carbon Neutral 2030 programme are:


The pie chart above shows that 22 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases came from waste, around 2% of all greenhouse gases from the city of Brighton & Hove in 2018.

Managing waste efficiently involves increasing the awareness of residents and businesses around how waste is produced and how we manage and reuse our waste.

The benefits of achieving this are more than reducing landfill or plastic in the oceans.

By thinking differently about how we use materials and what we throw away, we can generate benefits to the city, like:

  • reducing the number of heavy vehicles on the roads
  • alleviating congestion and improving air quality
  • creating partnerships between organisations to use waste material from one as resources for another

What we're doing to reduce waste

Brighton & Hove already has one of the lowest rates of waste sent to landfill, at 2.7% in 2019 to 2020 and falling. 

The city’s residual waste is sent to the energy recovery facility at Newhaven and generates electricity for 25,000 homes. 

Recent work in Brighton & Hove includes: 

Tech-Take Back 

Cityclean has partnered with Tech-Takeback to create an 'on demand, small electrical end of life collection service' to improve the offering to residents.

Between 12 Nov 2020 and 28 Jan 2021:  

  • there were 591 household collections 
  • 6,474 items were collected, weighing a total of 10.9 tonnes 
  • 616 tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved through reuse of these items 

Waste, Resources and Street Cleansing Strategy

Developing a strategy which will:

  • consider the achievements of the Modernisation Programme 
  • identify how the service can continue to deliver and embed these improvements
  • set out further opportunities for modernisation for the service over the next 5 years

One of the suggested ambitions is to increase levels of reducing, reusing and recycling.

Recycling leaflet

Redesigned the recycling leaflet to be sent to all households with council tax bills.

Food waste collection options appraisal

Partnered with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on an options appraisal for the introduction of a food waste collection service.

This includes how the service can best operate in Brighton & Hove in terms of:

  • frequency of collections
  • vehicles
  • the receptacles to be used both kerbside and communal
  • the materials to be collected at the same time
  • the volume of food waste collected

Garden waste

Introduced a third garden waste round.

Current projects in development 

  1. Communal bin system - reviewing the existing communal bin system and identifying areas for improvement with:

    • the current distribution of bins
    • capacity offered for different waste streams
    • improvements to glass recycling, including bins, contamination of, and noise
    • bin bays
    • signage
    • type of bins
    • expansion of waste streams
    • application of colour coding for the different waste streams 
  1. IT systems - modernising the service and supporting the wider programme of change through technology, including improved flow of real-time information 

  1. Managing waste responsibly - delivering an informative and educational campaign to assist residents, visitors, businesses and crews to dispose of waste responsibly

  1. Wheelie bin audit and rollout - implementing a wheelie bin recycling service to all the streets identified as suitable for this service from the city-wide wheelie bin audit

  1. Schools food waste collection 

Key actions

Increase reduce/reuse 

To do this, we will:

  • take a preventative approach to avoid food being wasted, in line with the principles of the food waste hierarchy

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will:

  • increase community composting

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be BHFP.

We will:

  • install TLC-branded drinking water fountains

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be The Living Coast Biosphere.

We will:

  • extend Revalu electrics (Tech-Take Back) to recycle phones, laptops and so on

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be Tech-Take Back.

We will:

  • work towards development of a Reuse Centre

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partners will be Planet Brighton and Veolia.

We will:

  • build furniture reuse into the bulky waste collection service
  • develop communications campaign to encourage reduce and reuse before recycling

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will:

  • develop and deliver accreditation scheme to encourage businesses to end the use of single use plastics

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be SAS Traders.

We will:

  • continue to minimise waste sent to landfill

The timeframe for this will be ongoing. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be Veolia.

We will:

  • end the use of single use BBQs on the beach and in parks and open spaces, subject to consultation

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

Increase recycling 

To do this, we will:

  • introduce additional garden waste rounds to different property types

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be Veolia.

We will:

  • extend the range of plastic that can be recycled and run a feasibility study on options for food packaging including pots, tubs and trays
  • introduce foil recycling

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be Veolia.

We will:

  • introduce domestic food waste collection

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium. The key partner will be Veolia.

We will:

  • reduce contamination of recycling
  • roll out improved and colour coded containment for recycling
  • extend ‘On the Go' recycling

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will:

  • extend ‘Ghost Gear’ fishing line collection for recycling on the seafront

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium. The key partner will be Leave No Trace Brighton.

Related plans and policies

  • Environmental Enforcement Framework
  • Binfrastructure and Litter Reduction Strategy (in development)
  • Waste, Resources and Street Cleansing Strategy (in development)

Built environment

The pie chart above shows that 391 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases came from the built environment, just under a third of all greenhouse gases from the city of Brighton & Hove in 2018.

Key challenges

The built environment is responsible for: 

  • 36% of all carbon emissions 
  • 40% of energy consumption 
  • 50% of all raw material extraction 
  • a third of all drinking water usage

In Brighton & Hove there is a lower level of owner occupation and more private rented housing, compared with the South East region. The housing stock is older and there are some areas which have poor energy efficiency.

The planning system is important for new build homes, offices, retail and industrial uses and the council has an extensive range of planning guidance on nature conservation and the urban environment.

The council also uses its influence as a client, landowner and development partner in regeneration schemes and building affordable housing. 

The council is leading the way and increasing its expertise through:

  • a cross-party Zero Carbon New Homes Working Group
  • researching and creating specifications for Zero Carbon new affordable homes
  • new ways of deploying solar PV and heat pumps in council housing

This group is addressing carbon emissions through things like the adoption of Whole Life Carbon Assessments. This measures greenhouse gases throughout the construction and operation of new homes.

Key actions

Regeneration schemes to provide social and sustainability benefits 

We will work with the development industry to:

  • introduce a sustainability impact checklist for new regeneration projects – private sector and public sector – through the planning system

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will also:

  • embed circular economy principles into new developments, construction and deconstruction projects 

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Build sustainable council housing 

To do this we will:

  • develop a design specification for carbon neutral homes - short term, low impact
  • deliver pilot Zero Carbon social housing project at Victoria Road, Portslade - short term, medium impact
  • develop and introduce a decent environment standard for council estates - medium term, low impact
  • adopt a New Build Housing Sustainability Policy for new council housing supply - medium term, medium impact

Secure sustainable development in the city through planning policies and City Plan

To do this we will:

  • implement sustainability policies in City Plan Part One and supporting guidance documents, including:
    • guidance on energy efficiency and design
    • sustainable drainage
    • parking
    • masterplans
    • food growing advice
    • swift boxes/bee bricks
    • Nature Conservation
  • adopt City Plan Part 2 and implement updated sustainability policies in relation to new development 
  • start review of City Plan Part 1 to update policies

The timeframe for these will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

We will work with the development industry to:

  • promote carbon neutral development with developers, architects and agents 

The timeframe for these will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Community Infrastructure Levy, Infrastructure Delivery plan

We will:

  • apply a Community Infrastructure Levy to new developments to secure funding to deliver the city's low carbon infrastructure priorities - short-term, low impact
  • update the Infrastructure Delivery plan to reflect priorities, like carbon offsetting and supporting retrofit - medium term, low impact

Planning guidance

We will:

  • prepare, adopt and implement planning guidance to support delivery of sustainable and biodiverse places, this includes:
    • adopting Urban Design Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 
    • Hove Station Master Plan SPD 
    • updating Nature Conservation SPD

Related plans and policies

Some of the plans related to the energy and water section of the Carbon Neutral 2030 programme are:

  • City Plan Part 1 
  • City Plan Part 2
  • Brighton & Hove City Council Housing Committee 20 Jan 2021 reports – Housing Actions towards Carbon Neutral 2030 
  • Sustainability Measures for New Homes and Housing Supply Sustainability Policy

Nature and environment - food, land use, agriculture

The pie chart above shows that 16 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases came from nature, agriculture and land use, around 1% of all greenhouse gases from the city of Brighton & Hove in 2018.

Nature’s contribution is critically important for our:

  • livelihoods
  • economy
  • quality of life
  • wellbeing

Halting and then reversing biodiversity loss and improving the resilience of our natural environment is vital.

The council has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

So we want to identify, enhance and improve access to the most important natural habitats including:

  • chalk grassland
  • woodland
  • hedgerows

Parks, gardens, farms and the Downland Estate surrounding Brighton & Hove offer opportunities to capture and lock up carbon in soils, grassland, trees and even the marine environment.

Green spaces can be managed for biodiversity and soil health, landscape, recreation and agriculture as well as carbon sequestration.

Where and how we produce food has a significant impact on carbon emissions as well public health and quality of life. With a longer dry season, valuable habitats will need to be resilient to fire.

There are great hopes for locking up carbon in the natural environment, but more evidence is needed. 

All of this will be increasingly important to help reach the city’s Carbon Neutral 2030 target.

Tree planting

A landscape of trees has many benefits for physical and mental health, and tree planting projects often have enthusiastic community support.

However, not all tree planting results in positive carbon sequestration.

Planting the wrong trees in the wrong place can actually release more carbon stored in the soil than is sequestered by the trees as they grow.

It can also destroy existing habitats such as species rich grasslands which would compromise work towards tackling the biodiversity emergency.

Tree planting often produces a plantation, not a woodland with diverse age structures and rich ecotones.

To address the biodiversity emergency as well as the climate emergency, it is preferable to allow natural regeneration with some planting to diversify the species mix.

So that in the long term a woodland with mixed age and species is achieved.

The South Downs National Park was designated for its natural beauty based on its open sweeping views, so the impact on the wider landscape needs to be considered in any tree planting scheme.


The aim of wilding is to manage habitats through natural processes as far as is possible.

In ancient times, the countryside would have contained large herbivores and predators which would have been the main drivers of natural landscape processes.

Getting the delicate balance of herbivores right should allow species rich grasslands to develop in some places and naturally regenerating woodland in others.

While natural regeneration of woodland under light grazing takes longer than tree planting it produces a more diverse, resilient woodland in the long run.

It is also desirable to replace missing plant species, by planting a limited number of trees that will then provide seeds for the trees of the future.

As soils develop, wilding will provide long term carbon sequestration as well as biodiversity benefits.

City Downland Estate

The council’s rural estate of over 10,000 acres is located within the South Downs National Park. The council acquired the estate in the late 19th and early 20th Century with the aim of protecting water supply and controlling development.

The council has long recognised the importance of the Downland Estate, which contributes a great deal to the Downland landscape which surrounds the city.

The City Downland Estate plan is being reviewed during 2021 to 2022, with a vision to reconnect the people of Brighton & Hove to a more biodiverse Downland with better education, improved access and a sense of connection to the land. 

There will be a focus on:

  • improving biodiversity
  • plant, tree and soil health
  • carbon emissions and sequestration
  • local food growing
  • renewable energy

City greenspaces

The city’s 2,000 acres of parks, trees and gardens enhance health and wellbeing for residents and are the venue for a dynamic range of activities. These spaces can be managed with a focus on biodiversity, increasing tree cover, and encouraging active travel. 

The Living Coast UNESCO World Biosphere Region covers 390km square, with the city of Brighton & Hove at its heart.

Its mission is to connect people and nature to inspire a positive future, today, through delivering projects under its 3 objectives:

  • to conserve and enhance nature and culture
  • support sustainable human development
  • to share environmental knowledge, learning, awareness and engagement


In 2020 the city received a Gold Sustainable Food City award. The bid was led by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. The city will build on this success.

Related plans and policies

Key actions

City Downland Whole Estate Plan

To do this, we will:

  • consult and approve the CDEP and develop a 10-year action plan - linked to BHCC Climate and Biodiversity Emergency declarations, re biodiversity, plant and tree health, carbon emissions and sequestration, renewable energy and soil health
  • create an 100 year vision for the Downland Estate
  • create a mapping of natural capital assets
  • carbon accounting to be considered

The timeframe for this will be short, medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

The key partners will be:

  • The Living Coast
  • South Downs National Park
  • Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre


To do this, we will:

  • review the use of council owned land with the aim of encouraging uses that promote biodiversity and mitigate climate change, like food growing and rewilding

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will:

  • build on Brighton & Hove's Gold Sustainable Food City award with campaigns for a more plant-based diet; less single-use plastics and tackling food poverty

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium. The key partner will be Brighton Food Partnership.

Invest in the biodiversity of our parks, green and blue networks, development sites and urban fringe

To do this, we will:

  • encourage and facilitate tree planting, green corridors and restoration of hedgerows and ponds to enhance biodiversity, especially on city-owned assets including parks, planters, community gardens and housing estates
  • begin restoration of the Stanmer Park Masterplan

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium. 

The key partners will be:

  • Living Coast Biosphere
  • Plumpton College
  • South Downs National Park

We will also commit to wilding projects, including:

  • Changing Chalk
  • Wilding Waterhall – the ecological restoration of Waterhall golf course by CityParks
  • Greening the Cities – creating new urban green spaces with local downland planting

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. 

The key partners will be:

  • Living Coast Biosphere
  • National Trust
  • Changing Chalk partnership

Maintain the quality of our beaches, and marine conservation

To do this, we will:

  • maintain Blue Flag status for beaches
  • restore kelp to coastline

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. 

The key partners will be:

  • TLC Biosphere
  • SWT
  • Southern Water
  • Greater Brighton

Communication and engagement

Only with the participation of individuals and communities will Brighton & Hove be able to act on cutting greenhouse gases and achieving the carbon neutral goal.

We need involvement from people and businesses to reduce or adapt demand for energy intensive services. New technologies, like electric cars or heat pumps, need at least some degree of change from consumers in what they buy and their daily lives.

Individual choices are key to shifting quickly towards:

  • healthier diets
  • slowing the increase in air flights
  • choosing products that last longer and improve resource efficiency

The council has a role in many aspects of community engagement.

Climate assembly

During 2020, Brighton & Hove City Council held a climate assembly and set up an online platform to engage on climate change with residents and businesses.

Local young people designed and delivered a Youth Assembly. The keen interest in the assemblies showed the willingness of Brighton & Hove residents to take part in climate action.

Engaging stakeholders

The council participates in many city-wide and regional partnerships, including The Living Coast Biosphere management board and Greater Brighton. Communicating our strategic vision is key to this engagement.

Behaviour change

Communicating options and opportunities for residents and organisations to cut their own carbon footprints is something the council already engages in, for example: 

  • making sure social housing tenants are informed about efficient use of their heating systems
  • responding to demand for electric vehicle charge points

The Public Health team are the specialists with campaigns on healthy eating and active lifestyles.

With the rapid pace of technological change there will be increasing need to communicate behaviour change messages with residents. 

Businesses and organisations can be supported in accessing resources that help them reduce their carbon outputs.

The stories of local people and businesses that are already working towards a zero carbon city can be recognised and celebrated. 

Engaging the whole community 

This includes council staff in the ongoing conversation about biodiversity loss and the climate emergency. Providing free civic space, like libraries to facilitate this.

Online consultation is helping to reduce the carbon footprint of consultation and engagement events. It can also make it easier for communities to engage with council initiatives, like the Downland Estate review. 

Support for community action 

In 2020 the council ran a successful grants programme for community projects on climate and biodiversity action.

The grants programme supports residents in a wide range of projects, including:

  • engagement on active travel
  • rainscaping along Lewes Road
  • the Craven Vale Association to create their own community apiary and a wildflower and wildlife area in addition to their existing mini-orchard

In future, community groups could be supported to identify the climate and carbon impacts of their projects. 

Participatory budgeting will enhance community engagement in housing estate improvements. 

Health and wellbeing 

Wide participation will also help to meet the city’s priority of being fair and inclusive and ensuring that everyone can benefit from and participate in climate actions. 

The council recognises that we need to engage with under-represented and marginalised groups who are often those most affected by the impact of climate change.

Key actions

Sustainability Carbon Reduction Investment Fund (SCRIF)

To do this, we will:

  • use the SCRIF to accelerate carbon reduction work within the council

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Engage young people in climate action

Working with Living Coast Biosphere, we will:

  • embed climate change into schools' Brighton & Hove Environmental Education (BHee) programme 

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions is not possible to measure, but this will help to enable action that will have an impact.

Community action

Working with Living Coast Biosphere, we will:

  • invest in a strong and independent voluntary and community sector using awards of a 3-year grant through the Third Sector Commission and Communities Fund, which includes a dedicated strand to support climate change and biodiversity projects 

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

Engagement and behaviour change campaign 

Working with Living Coast Biosphere, we will:

  • engage with the community on climate action through online platforms 
  • connect people and nature in the biosphere through the Living Coast programme
  • provide online advice to residents and council staff on how to cut carbon emissions in their homes and what they consume
  • find ways to support businesses to align their corporate social responsibility policies to the city carbon neutral target
  • support Neighbourhood Plan groups to include carbon reduction and biodiversity as key strands

The timeframe for this will be short, medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.


Working with Living Coast Biosphere, we will:

  • collaborate with The Living Coast Biosphere programme to deliver a distinctive offer at the Royal Pavilion (RP) and RP Garden, Brighton Museum, Booth Museum, Hove Museum and Preston Manor to support learning, creativity, wellbeing and engagement of diverse audiences and environmental sustainability

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions is not possible to measure, but this will help to enable action that will have an impact.

Sustainable events 

To do this, we will:

  • implement the Brighton & Hove Outdoor Events Charter
  • encourage event organisers to:
    • sign up to our Environmental Impact Assessment and Action Plan
    • cut carbon emissions from travel, energy, food and drink, and suppliers

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Jobs, education and skills

Young people have been a vital force in driving action on climate change in the city, participating in climate strikes and a Youth Assembly on transport.

Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) has run a schools and youth climate engagement programme which support:

  • schools
  • city youth engagement events
  • debates with MPs
  • a schools Heads climate conference

A new City Employment and Skills Plan is being developed that is focused on post-Covid recovery.

Steps to recovery need stakeholder participation and collaboration between:

  • the council
  • employers
  • training providers
  • colleges and universities
  • the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • business and education networks
  • the third sector

One of the plan’s objectives is to facilitate employment and skills interventions which support low-carbon employment and are key to any mass retrofitting project, like installing solar panels and heat pumps.

This will help to strengthen the local supply chain for green infrastructure.

In January 2020 the council unanimously passed a Notice of Motion supporting a ‘Green New Deal,’ seeking to address climate change in ways that also:

  • boost jobs
  • address poverty and inequality
  • restructure our economic system

The Green New Deal approach can help to grow ‘green’ skills and local jobs, linking public sector decarbonisation initiatives and council retrofit programmes to opportunities for skills and training.

Key actions

Engage young people in climate action

To do this, we will:

  • embed climate change into schools Brighton & Hove Environmental Education (BHee) programme

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be enabling action. The key partner will be Living Coast Biosphere.

Promote outdoor education and programmes to increase children's exposure to nature, theatre, music and physical activity

To do this, we will:

  • support the city’s early years and childcare providers to provide high quality early years services, including positive promotion of natural environment and outdoor learning

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be enabling action.

Develop green skills and jobs

To do this, we will:

  • collaborate with education institutions and businesses to plan for future skills needs and increase take up of apprenticeships

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be enabling action.

We will also:

  • secure funding and collaborate with Coast to Capital LEP, FE and HE colleges to create a Decarbonisation Skills Academy

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be enabling action. 

The key partners will be:

  • Coast to Capital LEP 
  • colleges
  • universities
  • the Green Growth Platform

Related plans and policies

Circular economy

In 2018 the Brighton & Hove Economic Strategy (2018 to 2023) was launched and included a commitment to creating a Circular Economy Routemap to 2035. 

What a circular economy looks like

Circular economy principles move away from a linear ‘take, make, consume and throw-away society’, towards one that:

  • minimises waste and pollution
  • keeps products and materials in use for as long as possible
  • supports the regeneration and protection of natural resources

Circular Economy Routemap

The Routemap will aim to capture and share good circular projects and practices across the city.

The Routemap will grow and evolve over time, shaped around new opportunities, learning and collaboration as the city begins to unlock its potential and transition towards:

  • circular systems and ways of working
  • driving sustainable growth
  • reducing carbon emissions
  • protecting our communities and the environment

Brighton & Hove City Council plays an important role in leading our city. We can use this position to help move to circular principles through our own practice as well as introducing policies that affect the whole city. 

Many council services are inherently sustainable. For example libraries’ core service is to ‘recycle’ books (and potentially other high-cost / low-use items) for many people to use.

Another example is the council’s Communities, Equalities and Third Sector team supporting refugee resettlement with second-hand white goods, furniture and clothing. 

Using the city’s spending power to procure goods and services and working with partners and contractors is key to the development of a local, sustainable, circular economy.

Find out about our approach to sustainable procurement.

The council’s Procurement Team has actively engaged in developing the Circular Economy Routemap. 

Other actions which support the routemap

The planning process can support the incorporation of circular economy principles in the design and construction of new development through appropriate planning policies in development plans.

City Plan Part One Policy CP8 ‘Sustainable Buildings’ and Policy WMP3d of the East Sussex, South Downs and Brighton & Hove Waste & Minerals Plan provide some existing support.

Future reviews of both these plans provide opportunities for more explicit policy support that better reflects the Circular Economy Framework.

The council is exploring whole life carbon assessments on new build housing schemes. These will assess the ‘embodied carbon’ locked up in construction materials and manufacturing processes.

The council is developing construction specifications to include circular economy principles to reduce waste, reduce operational energy use, and protect and enhance biodiversity, and has identified pilot projects to trial these specifications. 

Other priority sectors include the visitor economy and single-use plastics. In future there’s the potential to focus on fashion, food and other consumables that are produced outside the city.

Key actions

Promote a sustainable economy by supporting low carbon growth and encouraging businesses to reduce waste and pollution

To do this, we will:

  • deliver the Circular Economy Routemap and Action Plan 

To deliver this plan, we'll work with:

  • University of Brighton
  • Circular Brighton & Hove
  • Good Business Club
  • CityClean 

We will also:

  • update BHCC design specifications to reduce and reuse construction materials in our building projects
  • explore methodology for quantifying embedded carbon in construction

The timeframe for these will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

We will work with visionary small businesses to:

  • identify ways of making the city carbon neutral

The timeframe for these will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will:

  • scope and explore development of a flows analysis for produce and goods consumed in the city but produced elsewhere, like food, drinks and fashion

The timeframe for these will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Working with the BLUEPRINT to a circular economy project, we will: 

  • deliver pilot circular behaviour change and education projects to schools and residents for facilitating citywide engagement in reuse and reduction of waste and materials

The timeframe for these will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Ensure circular economy principles are fully supported in future development plans

Dependent upon the outcomes from government planning reforms, we will:

  • embed circular economy principles in the new City Plan and potentially any review of Waste and Minerals Local Plan with policies that identify the circular economy factors required to be addressed and/or incorporated in development proposals

To embed these circular economy principles, we'll work with:

  • East Sussex County Council
  • South Downs National Park Authority

The timeframe for these will be medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

Related plans and policies 


Brighton & Hove is already experiencing the impact of the changing climate, even in our temperate latitudes.

The city will need to find ways to adapt to these impacts to protect lives and livelihoods and the natural environment.

Challenges include: 

  • the high upfront capital cost of projects, like coastal defences
  • looking beyond statutory duties to future proof the city against climate change

Protecting our coastline

Higher sea levels and large storm waves are putting a strain on coastal defences.

In December 2019 part of the Albion groyne collapsed into the sea because of strong wind and rain, and at Seaford, the chalk cliff face has suffered several dramatic rock falls.

Extreme storms and flooding

Climate change is expected to cause:

  • warmer, wetter winters, with more intense, heavy rainfall events
  • greater risk of flash flooding

Brighton & Hove can suffer from:

  • muddy flooding
  • dumping eroded soil from the South Downs onto roads and drainage systems in the city

Water supplies and quality

By 2050, dry summers could result in 80% less water in the UK’s rivers and reservoirs, especially in the south east which already suffers from water stress.

Drought could affect the quality and amount of groundwater supplies available to the city.

All Brighton & Hove residents’ drinking water comes from the Brighton Chalk Block aquifers, so it is vital we protect and improve the groundwater in this valuable natural resource.


A range of health conditions related to heat, extreme weather and air pollution are predicted to rise.

Vulnerable people, including the elderly and children, will be at risk of increased heat exposure during heatwaves, especially in the south east of England.

A recent study in Brighton & Hove identified air pollution from transport as a contributory cause of more than 170 deaths a year in the city.

Read the article about toxic traffic pollution.

Clean air

Air pollution is associated with adverse health effects particularly affecting the most vulnerable in society – children and older people and those with heart and lung conditions.

Key actions

Manage risk of groundwater flooding and surface water flooding

To do this, we will create a:

  • Surface Water Management Plan
  • Local Flood Risk Management Strategy
  • Strategic Flood Risk Assessment

We will also invest in works to:

  • include highway drainage improvements, property level protection, surface water flow route interventions

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

Sustainable Urban Drainage

To do this, we will:

  • develop and begin delivery of a city-wide programme of sustainable urban drainage schemes to protect highways and properties from surface water flooding and extreme weather events and protect the chalk aquifer
  • deliver a SCAPE SUDs scheme

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low. The key partner will be The Aquifer Partnership.

We will also:

  • implement a Sustainable Urban Drainage Supplementary Planning document through the planning process and to shape future changes to the urban realm

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

Protect against coastal erosion and flood risk

To do this, we will create a:

  • Coastal Defence Strategy
  • Shoreline Management Plan
  • Shingle Beach Replenishment & Groynes
  • Proposed Marina to Adur Coastal Protection Scheme

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

The key partners will be:

  • Lewes District Council
  • Adur & Worthing Councils
  • the Environment Agency

Air quality

To do this, we will:

  • review Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) designations and a develop new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP)
  • develop options for smoke control areas

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

We will also:

  • continue to implement Ultra Low Emissions Zone for the city centre and consider expansion of the zone

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

Related plans and policies

  • 2020 Air Quality Status Report and Air Quality Action Plan
  • Coordination of adaptation work across council departments and teams
  • City Plan Parts 1 and 2
  • Ultra Low Emission Zone guidance

Carbon offsetting

Brighton & Hove City Council has set a target to become a carbon neutral city by 2030.

This means reducing greenhouse gases from all consumption and activity across the city as far as possible. However, some emissions are very hard to remove, and it is expected that not all carbon emissions will be eliminated by 2030. 

So, as a last resort, any carbon emissions that cannot be avoided at source must be offset (or ‘neutralised’) by schemes that remove or reduce remaining greenhouse gases. 

Despite energy efficiency improvements and technological advances, a gap between carbon emissions and our target may still remain. 

It is likely that Brighton & Hove will need to offset carbon emissions in addition to all other efforts to cut emissions over the years to 2030. 

Many carbon offsetting projects are nature-based, as our natural environment offers some of the best opportunities for capturing and storing carbon, as well as the benefits for wildlife and natural habitats. 

Projects which could offset carbon emissions include:

  • removing carbon from the atmosphere, for example by planting trees and enhancing natural habitats
  • preventing carbon from being released, for example by protecting natural habitats and soil management
  • reducing carbon emissions, for example by making sure buildings are energy efficient and using renewable energy
  • creating an enabling environment for carbon reduction, for example by giving fuel poverty advice, fuel switching, research and behaviour change

The council is exploring the potential for investing in local carbon reduction projects and identifying the carbon reduction that can then contribute towards our carbon neutral target.

The aim is to help more carbon reduction projects to happen faster, and to keep investment local. These projects often have other benefits which can be captured locally, like:

  • tackling fuel poverty
  • improving air quality
  • creating new habitats for wildlife
  • benefiting health and wellbeing

BHCC is already engaged in many nature-based projects which help to cut carbon, including:

  • planting trees in our streets and parks
  • the restoration of Stanmer Park
  • reviewing the Downland Estate Plan

Carbon offsetting projects must be additional, verifiable and permanent, which requires a robust framework to give confidence in the delivery of carbon savings.

A framework would also help to make carbon saving projects visible and accessible, and help engage public, communities and investors in climate action. 

The council is also looking to make sure that contracts are procured with carbon neutral goals in mind and that contractors may be able to partner in local carbon offsetting schemes or may have their own environmental or carbon emissions goals. 

Key actions

Investigate nature-based potential for capturing carbon emissions 

To do this, we will:

  • support Sussex Natural Capital Investment Strategy by developing an evidence base and methods of calculating carbon savings and biodiversity enhancement in nature-based projects 

We'll work with:

  • SNCP
  • Living Coast Biosphere

The timeframe for this will be medium and long term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be medium.

New investment models for low-carbon projects and to engage community

To do this, we will:

  • investigate development of a municipal bond or fund to provide opportunities for local people to invest in local low-carbon projects

The timeframe for this will be medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.

We will also:

  • include local authority insetting research on investing in local carbon offsetting projects

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be low.


Sustainability is an integral part of the procurement process.

The Sustainable Procurement Policy sets out how sustainability is embedded into every procurement process.

It was expanded in 2019 to incorporate circular economy principles to encourage reuse and recycling of materials.

The Procurement Team has actively engaged in the Circular Economy workshops, discussions and work undertaken so far and is committed to delivering the procurement related actions in the Circular Economy Routemap. 

All activity aligns with the council’s priority in achieving its goal to become a carbon neutral city by 2030.

Procurement examples

  • EV Lamppost Chargers: Energy supplied must be from a renewable source - this helped save around 11.1 metric tonnes in carbon emissions in first 2 months of operation.
  • A Design Team for phase 1 of the regeneration of Madeira Terrace whereby principles such as enabling zero waste on site are part of the brief
  • Adopting circular procurement models, like Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) and leasing - for example, Multi-Functional Devices (MFDs)

Key actions

Procure local services for the benefit of communities

To do this, we will:

  • use city's spending power to procure local services for the benefit of our communities by buying goods and services locally where possible, changing the way we outsource services and bringing services in house if it will increase social value and improve the development and retention of a highly skilled council workforce

The timeframe for this will be short term. The impact on CO2 emissions will be enabling awareness.

Circular economy

To do this, we will:

  • create a case study library to aid circular economy learning and development
  • review and refresh existing procurement policies

The timeframe for this will be short and medium term. The impact on CO2 emissions will low.

We will also aim that a percentage of:

  • spend is on circular goods and services
  • those purchases are supplied by local companies

The timeframe for this will be medium and strong term. The impact on CO2 emissions will medium.

Related plans and policies

  • Sustainable Procurement Policy