East Sussex’s highways and climate emergency action plan to benefit from one-off investments

Plans for almost £9m of one-off investments in East Sussex are set for debate by county council leaders next week.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 2:06 pm
County Hall in Lewes/East Sussex County Council offices SUS-210823-124622001

On Tuesday (November 9), East Sussex County Council’s cabinet are set to consider proposals on how the authority should spend the £8.855m set aside earlier this year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and additional government funding.

Cabinet members are asked to consider two proposals; spending £5.8m on highways repairs and spending £3.055m on a series of projects connected to the council’s climate emergency action plan. 

If approved, the £5.8m one-off highways investment would be used to repair pavements, fill in potholes and improve road signs and markings around the county.

The remaining £3.055m would go towards a series of carbon-cutting projects in 2022/23 and 2023/24. The council also intends to spend £812,000 on these projects in this financial year, with funding to be drawn from existing budgets.

The largest of these environmental investments would be in a programme to decarbonise heating in a number of council-owned buildings. This would involve energy efficiency improvements, such as better insulation.

This programme, slated to cost more than £2.5m over the next three years, would focus on buildings already due for boiler replacements. It would be expected to save the council around £155,000 per year in heating costs and cut its carbon emissions by approximately 255 tonnes per year.

Other carbon-cutting building projects would also see investment, including the installation of low energy lighting and solar panels in a number of schools and other council-owned buildings.

The Keep — home of the East Sussex Record Office — could also have solar panels installed on its roof.

A new officer would also be recruited to develop a pipeline of additional such projects in future years.

If funding is approved, the council would also commission modelling on how the council could get to net zero carbon emissions. This would look at the potential costs, benefits, risks and timescales of a number of different approaches.

Funding would also be provided for communications and ‘carbon literacy’ training for staff and councillors.

In a report to be considered by cabinet, a council officer said: “The county council has made strong progress over a number of years in cutting its own carbon emissions and has made it clear that contributing to tackling climate change is a key priority.

“The proposals in this report aim to build on existing capacity and projects to assist the council to mainstream its action on climate change.

“Cabinet is recommended to note the planned spend of £812,000 in this financial year, to be met through existing resources, and to approve the bid for further one-off investment of £3,055,000 for 2022-23 to 2023-24 to be funded from the £8.855m reserve that has been established for one-off investment.”