Fight climate change. Think global. Act local (council)

Man on a bike
Image caption Here I am using a Beryl bike to get to the archive centre (in the background)

All over the Midlands we've seen people protesting about climate change, with some rather full on direct action in London.

But almost unnoticed, many of our councils are making huge strides tackling climate change at a local level.

And councils are managing this with a huge variety of innovative ideas that aren't just green, they also save money for other services.

Ten years ago in Herefordshire, the council was the first in the country to transition to using only LED lamps in its street lights.

This was a big investment but it also saved a huge amount of money on its electricity bill. And that cash has since been used to fund other green initiatives.

I went to see the council's newish archive and records centre. This massive public building houses various collections that need stable temperatures.

Yet the whole building is heated using a single domestic boiler that costs only £700 or so a year to run. (There's actually two domestic boilers installed as no-one could believe one would be enough).

Inside, the building is light, spacious and heated to a very pleasant temperature.

The whole centre was constructed to a pretty tough green standard and, as well as saving the council money, it's also used as a practical example to local businesses of how going green can save a lot of funds.

Up on the roof

Image caption Up on the roof of the archive centre with some of the solar panels

I was taken up to the roof of the centre where you find more examples of the council's green thinking.

As you might expect, there are solar panels up here and the council is using European money to provide grants to local organisations that want to install their own panels.

The council is stepping into the gap left by the government which no longer offers subsidies of its own.

At the front of the centre you find Beryl bikes. This is the council's newly launched public cycle scheme.

The bright green Beryl bikes can be unlocked with a smartphone app and then ridden across the city over a new bike bridge or along the new cycle paths.

Along with electric vehicles for staff and a brand new network of charging points, the council says it's reduced its own carbon footprint by about 40%.

Now it's set even tougher green targets for both the council and county as a whole.


Image caption Some of those LED street lamps that are good for the environment and the council’s budget

Having declared a "climate emergency", along with many other Midlands councils, Herefordshire argues all these green measures are simply the right thing to do.

But LED street lamps and energy efficient buildings such as the archive centre all save money that can be ploughed into other council services.

And there are other ways going green can help councils with other problems.

So when tackling an issue such as childhood obesity, a network of public bikes and safe paths for them to use can only help keep kids healthier.

Across the Midlands councils are building their own solar farms or discussing radical approaches to car use.

With national government so focused on Brexit, it seems our local councils are stepping into the green gap.

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