Big savings from green campaign

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THE “Keen to be Green” plan implemented by Fenland District Council in 2009 has saved the council nearly £400,000 on its energy bills.

Now it has come up with new proposals aimed at building on that success over the next three years.

The savings have been achieved through a combination of investing in energy-efficient projects and simple changes in behaviour pioneered by volunteer “Green Champions” drawn from among the council’s staff.

Councillor Peter Murphy, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for the environment, said: “Energy prices are set to go on rising - the Carbon Trust assumes an annual increase of more than 8 per cent. So it is vital that we plan ahead and continue to make savings wherever we can.”

The success of the original “Keen to be Green” programme was revealed in a detailed review that went to the council’s Cabinet last month. The report also outlined the plans for the next three years.

It showed that between 2009 and 2011 FDC spent £385,225 less on its energy bills than it would have done if no action had been taken. It said that savings on a similar scale are expected to have been realised in 2011/12.

Now the council’s plan for 2012-15 seeks to continue its progress by cutting energy usage and associated costs by a further £120,000.

One priority aim is to increase the number of Green Champions. Councillor John Clark, FDC’s portfolio holder for quality organisation, said: “These volunteers play a crucial role because many of the projects that make a real difference are based on staff making simple changes in the way they work; they do not require capital or revenue support.”

Projects driven forward by the Green Champions included office recycling, cutting heating waste, encouraging people to turn off their computers and educating drivers on how to reduce their fuel consumption.

Cllr Clark paid tribute to them and said the plans showed that the council was giving a lead for others to follow. “It’s important for us to set an example for other businesses and organisations,” he said. “Our work will be shared with members of the Green Business Club and neighbouring local authorities.”

KEY SUCCESSES

Some of the key projects undertaken over the past three years and the annual savings that have resulted:

Refuse vehicles’ route review, cutting fuel costs. Annual saving: about £30,000.

LED lighting introduced at the Manor Leisure Centre as part of its renovation. Saving: £6,400

Driver training for people who use cars for work. Saving: £4,000

Voltage optimisation at Fenland Hall and the Manor Leisure Centre. Saving: £3,300

Roof and wall insulation at the Manor Sports Hall. Saving: £1,600