Nottingham City Council has won the title of Climate Champion in a top national award, in recognition of its ambitious plans to be the first UK city to become carbon neutral.

The Council was also declared overall winners of the Guardian’s prestigious Public Service Awards held in London tonight (November 26th).

The Climate Champion category was included in the awards for the first time. The Guardian reported earlier this year that Nottingham City Council was ‘arguably the most ambitious’ for climate change action, after committing in January to becoming the first carbon neutral city in the UK, by 2028.

Judges handed the coveted prize to Nottingham after hearing about a range of things the council has already done, is doing or plans to do to tackle climate change at a local level. The council led local councils’ response to climate change twenty years ago by devising the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change which most UK authorities signed up to.

The council has taken a pioneering approach to sustainable public transport:

  • Introducing the first and only Workplace Parking Levy to help fund a network of electric trams and an increasingly green bus fleet – with Nottingham City Transport boasting the largest fleet of biogas buses in the world
  • Making its own vehicle fleet greener, including the UK’s first emission-free street sweepers, and overseeing the cleaning up of the city’s hackney cabs – aiming for all of them to be electric by 2025
  • Encouraging drivers to opt for electric cars, through one of the largest networks of charging points and the UK’s first Eco Expressway for ultra-low emission vehicles as well as buses
  • Investing extensively in improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.
Electric vehicles in Nottingham

All of this means Nottingham has among the highest public transport use outside London, with over 62m public transport journeys last year – up by 13m since 2003. This has helped hold traffic levels steady – bucking the national trend – improve air quality and led to Nottingham’s Local Plan to Improve Air Quality being the first in the country to be approved by Government which concluded a Clean Air Zone wasn’t needed.

The council also:

  • Supplies energy from waste to homes and businesses through the district heating system
  • Has carried out one of the most extensive programmes of solar panel installations on homes and other sites, including the UK’s first publicly owned solar carports at two of our leisure centres
  • Is piloting the UK’s first Energiesprong retrofit on homes in Sneinton, in partnership with Nottingham City Homes, upgrading them with innovative energy efficient measures
  • Has established Robin Hood Energy which supplies energy from 100% renewable sources and powers the city’s trams.
Energiesprong homes in Sneinton

This range of bold policies and ground-breaking schemes has seen the council already exceed its 2020 target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% with a figure of 41%, and be on track to meet its 2020 target of 20% of energy generation from low carbon sources.

City Council Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment, Cllr Sally Longford, said: “I am absolutely delighted with these awards. They recognise the forward-thinking approach the City Council has taken for many years to address congestion and pollution and to find sustainable energy solutions. It’s a real shot in the arm for us to carry on with our ambitious plans to be carbon neutral by 2028.”

This award success comes after the council won the Local Authority Initiative of the Year category at the national Energy Awards, for its Energiesprong project.