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Council ramps up climate action with million-pound investment in biodiversity

8 July 2022

Southwark Council will invest £1 million in biodiversity projects to protect and improve Southwark’s green spaces. This is part of £7.5 million that the council has announced it will spend on green projects in its updated climate action plan. The investment is directly in response to the recommendations from the Citizens’ Jury on Climate Change which asked the council to enhance green spaces for wildlife and wellbeing. It will also support the council’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The council’s emissions, and emissions across the borough have both decreased in the last year, however, sustained action and investment is needed to become net-zero by 2030. To do that, alongside the new funding for biodiversity improvements, Southwark Council is also spending money in a number of other key areas, such as:

  • A £1 million investment in walking improvements to support the Citizens’ Jury’s top recommendation
  • A new £400,000 community energy fund available to support residents’ to club together and work on green energy projects
  • Accelerating plans to decarbonise, by halving the council’s own emissions again by 2026, backed by £5 million of investment
  • An additional £100,000 to expand the use of cargo bikes in the borough

The updated action plan and new funding commitments reflect the council’s response to the recommendations of the Citizens’ Jury and its ambition for the whole borough to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Of the 93 recommendations made, the council has taken time to ensure 82 actions (88 per cent) are covered by this action plan and other council strategies, with 13 completely new actions. There are 13 completely new actions, such as expanding school streets schemes (closing roads outside Southwark schools at drop off and pick up times) to improve walking and cycling for schoolchildren.

Councillor Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “Last year we set out our ambitious roadmap to make Southwark net-zero. We said then that we would keep working with the people of our borough to strengthen our plans even more. That’s why we set up our Citizens’ Jury, to hear the perspectives, experiences and ideas of local people from every walk of life.

“I am deeply thankful to the members of the Jury for their brilliant report, and delighted to be setting out our updated action plan today, which responds directly to their recommendations.  Coupled with the new funding commitments we are making today, this updated plan will ensure we move even faster to end our borough’s contribution to global warming, whilst making Southwark a better and fair place to live too.”

To mark the announcement, Councillors Kieron Williams and Catherine Rose visited Lavender Pond in Rotherhithe, to hear about the benefits of the council-funded renovations on the nature reserves pond, including new-planted banks and works to replace the Ponds walls. Volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers, who manage the site on behalf of the council, and the Friends of the Lavender Pond also attended to talk about the work they do to make the reserve a place for wildlife, education, and the local community – and their plans to celebrate the site’s fortieth birthday this weekend.

Councillor Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Parks, Streets and Clean Air, said: “Protecting and enhancing our green spaces was a key priority of the Citizens’ Jury, so it’s great to celebrate both forty years of this amazing nature reserve, and our new investment to improve biodiversity across the borough.”

The council’s updated Climate Action Plan, and the formal response to the recommendations made by the Citizens’ Jury on Climate Change, are due to be received by Cabinet on Monday 18 July, where it is expected that they will be formally adopted.

Last year, the climate strategy made the first step in setting out how the council would achieve its ambition of becoming net-zero by 2030. The independent organisation, Climate Emergency UK, ranked it as the eighth best climate plan in the country, and in the top two in London.  

Page last updated: 08 July 2022