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£21.3m proposed to tackle climate change and support digital connectivity

18 January 2024

Budget proposals to help tackle climate change and support digital connectivity were today (18 January) supported by councillors at the Environment and Green Investment Committee, ahead of February’s meeting of Full Council.

The Environment & Green Investment Committee oversees spending on the county council’s climate change work as well as large energy projects, minerals and waste matters. It also plays a key role looking after the county’s historic and natural environment.

Last year, the council’s Quality of Life Survey highlighted that 76 per cent of respondents were concerned about climate change, with 85 per cent stating they would like the see the county council do more to protect and enhance the natural environment.

Recognising this, over the next five years the council proposes to prioritise £15.9m of funding to work towards this aim. The county council has a strategic ambition for a Net Zero Cambridgeshire by 2045 whilst supporting nature and increasing biodiversity in the area.

The money will be used to continue the council’s work to manage and lead the climate change and environment agenda with additional investment to support nature recovery and biodiversity, develop new projects to further reduce carbon emissions, and support communities with energy systems transformation. It will also fund work to better understand the costs and risk of climate change for council services, and across Cambridgeshire’s communities.

As well as the above, over £5.4m is budgeted to continue the roll out of fibre and super fast broadband across the county via Connecting Cambridgeshire over the next year. This will improve digital inclusion with more free public access wi-fi. Pilot projects will also see air quality and flood monitoring sensors installed across the county.

Green energy projects currently under way include the connection of a new solar farm at Soham and the construction of smart energy grids at St Ives and Babraham Road Park & Ride sites. The Swaffham Prior Community Heat Project continues its five-year programme having recently been chosen as the Renewable Project of the Year at the Net Zero Awards. To date, decarbonisation projects have also been carried out at 62 schools, driving down energy costs by over £1.1m, as well as saving thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions.

The council continues to embed its approach to net zero into its daily work with plans to reduce the carbon impact of its work across highways, property, fleet, transport and waste management activities in keeping with the aim of becoming a Net Zero organisation by 2030.

Members of the Strategy, Resource & Performance Committee (S,R&P) agreed in December that the council's service committees would be invited to consider the proposals at their January meetings. In addition, the council launched an online public survey ( and is seeking the views of town and parish councils, public sector authorities, business leaders, and most importantly, local residents.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s proposals for its 2024/5 budget have been prepared against a backdrop of what is being called ‘the toughest year to set a balanced council budget’, as the council looks to support vulnerable people and improve highways maintenance whilst seeking to bridge a remaining £2m funding gap.

Councillor Lorna Dupre, Chair of Environment & Green Investment Committee said: “We know that people in Cambridgeshire place a high value on the environment and are concerned about climate change – they’ve made their high expectations of us clear in our recent Quality of Life survey.

“Despite the current financial circumstances, we continue to prioritise becoming a Net Zero organisation by 2030 and a Net Zero county by 2045. 69 per cent of those who let us know their thoughts through the Quality of Life survey indicated they were open to making changes to their behaviour to become more sustainable which demonstrates the local interest in our shared environment – and reinforces our community-led approach to reducing carbon emissions.”

Councillor Nick Gay, Vice Chair of the Environment & Green Investment Committee said: “With so many services now available – and often primarily accessed online – tackling internet not-spots throughout the county is vital to ensure digital inclusion within our communities. That’s why we’re proposing to invest a further £5.4m in the roll out of fibre, super fast broadband and public wi-fi across the county.”

The views of all committees, those drawn from the online survey and meetings with groups including town and parish councils, business leaders and trade unions, will be combined before the Strategy, Resources & Performance Committee makes a final recommendation at its meeting on 30 January to Full Council, which then meets to debate and agree the council’s budget on 13 February.

For more information on the council’s proposals for the coming year visit - Consultation begins on Cambridgeshire budget proposals ahead of ‘toughest year’ for local councils - Cambridgeshire County Council.