West Leeds councillors have been told that progress has been made to reduce the carbon footprint of council-owned buildings and schools – but one councillor has warned that the city still has ‘a mountain to climb’.
Members of the inner west community committee heard Leeds City Council had received a £25m government grant for council buildings and primary schools across the city earlier this year.
In Armley, Kirkstall and Bramley & Stanningley Wards, the money had been spent on:
- Replacing gas-fired central heating with air source heat pumps and solar panels at Valley View Primary.
- Air source heat pumps, solar panels and LED lighting have been installed at Hollybush Primary.
- Heat pumps and LED lighting at Hawksworth Wood Children’s Centre.
- Heat pumps and solar panels at Kirkstall Leisure Centre.
Other schemes include free solar panels and/or insulation for homeowners earning less than £30k a year between them.
Three businesses from Armley and Bramley & Stanningley have completed trials of an electric van. Three electric charging points have also been installed at Armley and Kirkstall Leisure Centres and Kirkstall ASDA.
The council’s chief officer for sustainable energy and air quality, Polly Cook, said there had been lots happening across the city and that the council had submitted another bid for funding more improvements.
She also pointed to the White Rose Forest regional tree planting scheme, and a pilot project until March where Leeds residents can borrow an electric bike for a month if they make three regular journeys a week under 10 miles.
Councillor Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) had questions about how the impact of the schemes was being measured. She told the Civic Hall meeting:
“We need a piece of work so we understand the mountain we still have to climb. I suspect the collective impact of all these is probably very small compared to what we need to do.”
Polly Cook replied that the council was improving 40 buildings across the city, resulting in about 3,000 tonnes of carbon saving, a “reasonable chunk of our carbon emissions”.
She added: “Everything we do is a little bit of a drop in the ocean. We have been at leading edge of piloting now at the stage where we need to secure more funding and deliver at pace.”
Cllr Kevin Ritchie (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) raised a query about amenity green space on estates being abused by antisocial use of quad bikes. He said: “We’ve put expensive fencing up but we are now looking at green fencing like shrubs. Could this be something that could be looked at?”
Cllr John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall) added: “I’m thrilled to bits with the ground source pumps at Queenswood Heights and Court in Kirkstall. It’s a good-quality scheme, everything you look at has been well done.”
Inner west community committee chair Jools Heselwood (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) added: “There are some great schemes going on in all three wards to tackle the climate emergency.”
The community committee is made up of councillors from Kirkstall, Armley and Bramley & Stanningley Ward, alongside co-opted members of the public.