Climate Emergency

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels to date.  This warming will persist for centuries to millennia, and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rises.

If global warming continues at the current rate, the temperature increase is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.  This further warming is expected to cause increases in mean temperatures in most regions, and extremes of temperatures and rainfall (both heavy rainfall and droughts).  This will lead to species extinction, biodiversity loss and climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply and economic growth. 

It is critical that we avoid temperature increases above 1.5°C, as the risks to our planet and ourselves will be so much greater.  Rapid and far-reaching changes in energy, land use, infrastructure and industry are needed to achieve this.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognises that climate action is needed at all levels of society, including national government, local authorities, the private sector and communities.  This means us, as a council, and you as residents.

In September 2019, the council declared a Climate Emergency and committed to reducing the negative impact of council services on the environment, with an aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2030.  The council also made a commitment to working with partners (including local residents and businesses) to deliver widespread carbon reductions.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Help Biodiversity? 

What We're Doing:

We commissioned a carbon and eco- audit to provide data on the council’s carbon footprint along with proposed actions to help the council become carbon neutral by 2030 and reduce the negative ecological impacts of our activities. You can read the full audit here (PDF, 233 KB).  

We have created an Action Plan (PDF, 73 KB) and below is our progress to date:

What We've Done in August 2023:

  • Installation of LED lights to replace power-hungry tungsten lights at The Elgiva

What We've Done in July 2023:

  • Control of invasive weed Japanese Knotweed on The Moor
  • Held a consultation workshop with local environmental groups to consider environmental perspectives on the developing Chesham Neighbourhood Plan

What We've Done in June 2023:

  • Gone to tender for solar panel installation at the Town Hall and The Elgiva
  • Worked with Sustainable Chesham and Fairtrade Chesham to hold the first Chesham Community and Climate Cafe.

What We've Done in May 2023:

  • Appointed a contractor to install LED lights in the auditorium of The Elgiva
  • Held consultations on a masterplan for Lowndes Park
  • Thanks to the Chess Smarter Water Catchment, an ecological survey was conducted on Moor Marsh, with a report for future management options produced

What We've Done in March 2023:

  • Worked with the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project on a successful grant application to control Japanese Knotweed in Chesham
  • Installed a new boardwalk in Meades Water Gardens made of end of life plastic as part of the Chess Valley Walk upgrade
  • Attendance at a meeting of the Chess Catchment Forum, with a focus on reducing pollution incidents

What We've Done in February 2023:

  • Took part in Super Sustainable Saturday, which saw the Repair Café, Local Produce Market and Big Fairtrade Breakfast run at the same time

What We've Done in January 2023:

What We've Done in December 2022:

  • Purchased a scything kit that trained volunteers can use to manage areas of grassland in a more sustainable way
  • Swapped to a green energy tarriff for the majority of our buildings

What We've Done in November 2022:

  • Met with our waste contractors Veolia to explore increasing recycling at our venues

What We've Done in October 2022:

  • Chemical and volume analysis of the silt in Skottowes Pond to inform a restoration project
  • Chesham Environmental Group surveyed Moor Marsh to assess species diversity
  • Granted landowner permission for a river bank renaturalisation project on the Moor, with match-funding from the Mayor's Charity Fund. 
  • Sowed native bluebell seeds in the upper Lowndes Park.
  • Attended a Buckinghamshire Climate Change conference

What We've Done in September 2022:

  • Had an external audit of our progress towards net zero. New Action Plan is being drawn up. 

What We've Done in August 2022:

  • Reorganised the Town Hall office to maximise use of natural light to reduce our use of artificial lights
  • When we ran out of harvested rainwater, we reduced our watering regime down from 10,000 litres per week to 2,000 litres per week of mains water to safeguard plants, including trees, at risk of dying from lack of water.  

What We've Done in June 2022:

  • Worked with Sustainable Chesham to put on a display about hedgehogs and the Hedgehog Highways scheme at the Schools of Chesham Carnival. 
  • Used a CarbonNeutral® certified company to shred and recycle our paper records scheduled for destruction. All of the shredded paper will be recycled in UK recycling mills. 
  • Ecological survey and eDNA analysis of Skottowes Pond conducted. 

What We've Done in May 2022:

  • Joined the Hedgehog Highways scheme during Hedgehog Awareness Week - purchase your Hedgehog Highway surround from the Town Hall!

What We've Done in April 2022:

  • Commissioned the development of a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan
  • Invested in a mobile biochipper, to enable us to rapidly produce compost

What We've Done in March 2022:

  • Attended a workshop of managing verges for wildlife
  • Recommended an area of grassland in Chesham for inclusion in a Bucks Council trial for cut and collect management for wildlife
  • Planted a Platinum Jubilee oak in Lowndes Park

What We've Done in February 2022:

  • Presented to Chesham & District Natual History Society on 'Making Space for Chesham's  Wildlife'
  • Recommended alterations to the management of Nashleigh Hill Recreation Ground to enhance biodiversity
  • Extended the pedestrianisation of Market Square for a further 18 months

What We've Done in January 2022:

  • Operated the 'Chip Your Christmas Tree for Free' scheme
  • Scoping of plans to enhance wildlife habitats in Nashleigh Hill Recreation Ground
  • Met with Chesham & District Natural History Society volunteer to plan managing verges and open spaces for biodiversity
  • Attendance at a meeting of the Chess Catchment Forum, with a focus on reducing sewage pollution
  • Site visit with Bucks Council ecologists to look at alternative management options for the top of Lowndes Park
  • Commissioned Buckinghamshire Community Energy to carry out a feasibility study on decarbonisation and energy-use reduction in town council buildings

What We've Done in December 2021:

  • Continued with the switching of the Town Hall lights over to LEDs

What We've Done in November 2021:

  • Started to switch the Town Hall lights over to LEDs
  • Submitted an application to the Local Community Board to fund a feasibility study for installing solar power on town council buildings

What We've Done in October 2021:

  • Purchased refillable containers for cleaning products at the Town Hall to start using refills instead of single-use plastics
  • Met with Bucks Community Energy to discuss how to decarbonise our buildings
  • Movement sensors fitted to lower footfall areas in the Gym & Swim to save energy on lighting

What We've Done in September 2021:

  • Installed separately controlled heating zones in the Town Hall to better manage room temperatures and reduce heating waste
  • Promoted Great Big Green Week, including having activities at the Local Produce Market
  • Met with a Chesham & District Natural History Society rep to plan actions to provide more invertebrate habitats in Co-op Field
  • Big Biodiversity Event took place at Co-op Field to create invertebrate habitats
  • Council agreed that the annual Town Guide (our biggest, single use of paper) should in future be printed on recycled paper and have its print run reduced from 11,000 to 1,500 copies. 
  • Started investigating what items residents would like to be able to recycle locally, with help from Bucks Council Waste Management
  • Met with Zone 9 Cycle Group to look at supporting their work to improve cycling infrastructure

What We've Done in August 2021:

  • Met with a Local Wildlife Sites Surveyor to assess management options to maximise biodiversity in upper Lowndes Park

What We've Done in July 2021:

  • Attendance at a meeting of the Chess Catchment Forum, with a focus on reducing sewage pollution
  • Held a workshop for councillors on our Eco-Audit

What We've Done in May 2021:

  • Included reference to our zero carbon objective in new staff contracts
  • Attendance at a meeting of the Chess Catchment Forum, with a focus on reducing sewage pollution

What We've Done in April 2021:

  • Project with Chiltern Rangers to establish wildflower areas, trees, bird boxes and bird feeders in Chesham Cemetery
  • Installation of bird feeders at Chesham Moor Gym & Swim
  • Changed sports pitch fertiliser used to an organo-mineral fertiliser which promotes stimulation of soil microbes and has lower emissions of ammonia and nitrous oxide than mineral fertilisers

What We've Done in March 2021:

  • Doubled the amount of bike parking spaces at Chesham Moor Gym & Swim to encourage people to ride to the centre
  • Created a new wildflower bed outside Chesham Moor Gym & Swim
  • Attended Sustainable Chesham's Community Assembly on water
  • Staff trained to maximise use of natural light at The Elgiva to reduce use of lights
  • Radiators turned to frost protection for stairwells, toilets and kitchens at The Elgiva
  • Digital thermometers installed at The Elgiva to monitor room temperatures
  • Installed signage at Co-op Field to explain the reduction in mowing
  • Depot office and security lights switched to LEDs
  • Heating in Depot bathroom turned down to frost protection only 
  • Internal lights in Lowndes Park toilets switched to LEDs
  • Town Council issued a letter of support for Thames Water's Smarter Water Catchment Plan which will see £3 million investment into the Chess catchment

What We've Done in February 2021:

  • Started trialling different types of recycled waste sacks for use by the Parks Team
  • Attended a Smarter Water Catchment workshop for the River Chess
  • Committee agreed to reduce intensity of mowing regime at Co-op Field 
  • Attended Bucks Local Nature Recovery Strategy Pilot Information Webinar

What We've Done in January 2021:

  • Meeting held with BBOWT and local volunteer organisations to discuss enhancing habitats in Lowndes Park
  • Reusable whiteboards purchased for the Town Hall to replace flipcharts
  • Source of refuse sacks for the Town Hall switched over to recycled plastic
  • One water heater taken out of use in the Town Hall
  • 30 trees planted at Codmore Field
  • Over 100 hedging plants used to fill in the gaps and extend an old hedgerow on the boundary of Berkhampstead Field Community Meadow
  • Planted 45 trees in the Lowndes Park to fill in gaps in boundary hedges
  • Operated the 'Chip Your Christmas Tree for Free' scheme

What We've Done in November 2020:

  • Quote obtained for installing temperature zoning controls at the Town Hall
  • Investigations made into green energy suppliers (decision pending)
  • Community, Assets and Environment committee agree to purchase of whiteboard (to replace flipcharts), a timer for the Town Hall water heater, a timer for the immersion heater at Codmore Pavilion and to a switch to recycled, plastic bin bags.
  • Bookmarks were created with the 2021 Local Produce Market dates to use less paper than fliers, and were created with 100% recycled paper. 

What We've Done in October 2020:

  • Installed thermometers in the Town Hall to monitor room temperatures
  • Put reflective sheets behind radiators on external walls at the Town Hall to reduce heat loss
  • Rearranged the Town Hall office, so radiators are no longer blocked and can work more effectively
  • Investigated green tarriffs for our electricity and gas (decision yet to be made)
  • Installed explanatory signage for the slow worm hibernacula at Berkhampstead Field Community Meadow
  • Had initial discussion with Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust about environmentally-friendly management of our open spaces
  • Draught-proofed the doors and installed door closers at the Parks Depot
  • Replaced an energy-hungry tea urn with a kettle at the Depot
  • Replaced standard heaters with infra-red heaters in the Depot workshop
  • Put timer controls on the heaters at the Depot
  • Switched over to 100% recycled paper in all parts of the council
  • Using recycled paper for external printing for The Elgiva
  • Produced a cemetery guide on 100% recycled paper

If you have any suggestions or thoughts on what we can do as a council to become carbon neutral, we would love to hear from you.  You can Contact Us via this web site or call us on 01494 583798 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).