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We all need to play a part in the battle against climate change

Published: 25 August 2022

We all need to play a part in the battle against climate change Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk

I’m sure that everyone has enjoyed this summer’s warm weather. It’s important that at times of extreme weather we all need to look after ourselves and check on any neighbours who may need our support - we need to continue to look out for each other.

While we all like the warm weather, it does give us some serious indications about our future and the steps we need to take to tackle climate change.

We are continuing with our policies to get the Council Net Zero by 2030. As difficult as that may appear, we’re on our way - and two significant recent announcements demonstrate this.

Our Solar Farm at Marsh Barton is about to go live. It has 3,700 solar panels and a 1MW battery storage facility, which will be used to charge our fleet of electric vehicles with green electricity we have generated ourselves.

Read moreSolar farm will generate and store green energy to power electric fleet

This is a fantastic facility and another significant step on our journey to carbon neutrality. We have PV arrays at a number of other locations around the city, including our car parks and at the Matford Centre - they must have been working overtime in the recent weather.

Our first three electric refuse vehicles are also now in service, which is fantastic. Eventually we’ll replace our entire fleet of diesel refuse vehicles with electric ones, making the whole collection service carbon neutral.

Read moreFirst three electric bin lorries begin operations in Exeter

We built St Sidwell’s Point to be Passivhaus and use very low levels of energy, and everything that has happened recently reinforces why that decision was such a good one. It really is a fantastic centre and it is great to see so many families using it during the summer holidays.

I need to mention the cost of living crisis, which continues to be a concern for all of us. It may seem strange to talk about heating bills at the moment when the weather has been so hot, but it is on all of our minds and a lot of people are quite anxious about what the future holds.

We are working through the various support packages we are administering and supporting people where we can. We are rolling out the Council Tax rebate for those people in bands A to D.

Read moreCost of living help available for households

Unfortunately we have experienced some ongoing problems with some of our refuse collections, and I want to apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused.

Like every other local authority in the country, we are very keen to recruit more staff, particularly drivers. We are working extremely hard on this, and I would urge anyone who is interested in working for the Council to visit our website and see the opportunities available. The Council is an excellent employer, and we are always keen to welcome new staff to our team.

Read more: See all of our current vacancies

We are in the process of sharing the Draft Exeter Plan and there will be a major consultation launched on this to make sure everybody’s voice is heard. We plan to launch formal consultation at the end September and need to hear from residents and businesses about how they would like to see the city grow and develop in the future.

Some people will have enjoyed the Lego exhibition at the RAMM. As well as enjoying Lego, the event was also used to encourage people to think about planning issues and what Exeter should look like in the future. A lot of people took part which was great, and I’m very much looking forward to the start of formal consultation in September. We will publish all the details of how to get involved shortly.

Read moreDiscussion on Exeter’s future development at the city’s RAMM museum

Speaking of the RAMM, I hope people are taking the opportunity to look at the 150 year exhibition of Exeter Rugby, which is a really powerful story for us all to appreciate and enjoy.

I am very proud of what both the men’s and women’s teams have achieved here in Exeter. They have put Exeter on the map and their community work is absolutely fantastic.

Turning to the other shaped ball - what a start! We produced some rugby scores in the early games – to go away and win seven nil against a League One side in the Carabao Cup was incredible. If this is how we can perform against League One sides we have a lot to be optimistic about going forward, and the club deserves all of our support.

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