East Hampshire District Council is marking the anniversary of its COP26 climate change event last October by announcing its Green Team is now ‘live’.

COP26 East Hampshire October saw residents and campaigners gather to plan what East Hampshire could do to reduce the impact of climate change.

Since then the council has been driving forward plans to improve its own environmental performance and to help others do the same.

Chief among the new initiatives has been forming a Green Team to help the council, community and district be more sustainable.

Council leader Richard Millard said: “The Green Team is made up of officers spread through the council organisation.

“They will put the environment at the heart of our day-to-day decisions and embed climate change awareness into the core of the organisation.

“They will ensure ensuring that responsibility for the response to the climate emergency is distributed throughout all the major departments, including planning, community, facilities management, property and placemaking.”

And climate change training is already being rolled out across the council on issues such as housing standards, renewable and low carbon technology, carbon offsetting and going net-zero.

Alongside this, over the past 12 months the council has establish a range of major projects to cut carbon emissions and support local residents.

These include moving to a new HQ that will have more than £1.5m spent on it to make it more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

And in the last year, 256 homes have been supported through domestic retrofit schemes.

The houses have benefited from having smart thermostats, loft and cavity wall insulation, new and replacement boilers, solar panels and replacement windows and doors installed.

The council is also developing its greenest ever Local Plan, a future greenprint for the district, says Cllr Millard.

It will aim for the highest possible standards in sustainable house-building and strive for zero-carbon homes, as energy efficient homes have a lower carbon footprint and are cheaper and more comfortable to live in.

It will also look to protect and enhance local biodiversity.

And so far a council pledge to see 120,000 trees planted in East Hampshire – one for every person in the district – has attracted commitments to plant more than 50,000 trees from residents, developers and community groups.

Among other environmental benefits, tree planting will help remove carbon from the atmosphere and improve biodiversity, and so increasing the amount and variety of local wildlife.

And finally, the council has announced plans to set up a community farm. The council aims to get about £1m of government funding for the project.

The farm will support ambitions to improve welfare, social cohesion and economic development and will have the environment at its core.

Among other opportunities, the project will look at growing projects, boosting biodiversity and reducing food waste.

EHDC portfolio holder for regeneration and prosperity, Cllr Rob Mocattta, said: “Since COP26 we have made huge strides and come forward with some really big ideas to make the difference.

“But we know there’s more to do and we must keep up the good work if we are to achieve the vital target of carbon neutrality by 2050.”