The new Leader of Horsham District Council, Cllr Jonathan Chowen, has made a series of new cabinet appointments, including Cllr James Wright as Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural affairs, and Cllr Toni Bradnum as Cabinet Member for Recycling and Waste and we were delighted that they both saw our Sussex Green Hub in action on 29th January.

Horsham District Council (HDC) are announcing shortly the council’s own progress towards net zero, the target for carbon neutrality is by 2030 for direct emissions, 2034 for contractors who provide council services.

James mentioned the One Million Pound investment secured for the environmental agenda at the council, that will be in the budget this year and is an investment in pushing for zero emissions and promoting bio-diversity. Plus, that HDC are looking at Scope 1, 2 and 3. Carrie asked: “Is this an additional one million to that pledged by HDC when they announced a climate emergency in 2019?”

James replied: “We are updating the council and cabinet on progress over the last two years and our 3-year plan later this Spring. The £1million investment is in addition to any monies pledged so far. We’re working on decarbonising several of the properties we own as temporary accommodation, new LED lighting in some of our rural car parks and investing in the council’s Environmental Team.”

James acknowledged that the council’s emissions are only about 2% of the entire district’s emissions, and that HDC needs to do more to work with organisations like Sussex Green Living, parish councils, individuals and businesses to make the right choices with their own carbon output, something HDC will explore this spring. James said: “We don’t have a target for the district. We want it to happen as soon as it can. We want to support individuals, businesses and parish councils in making the best choices on that journey.”

James has asked officers to write a report on holding a Climate Assembly for Horsham District and they will share more about this in the spring.

Carrie and James agreed that it is great news that another officer is going to be employed to work with HDC’s Environment Manager, Helen Peacock.

HDC are aware that a lot of local groups and people would like a high street open shop hours, People and Planet Wellbeing Hub (Carrie’s working name) in Horsham. HDC are looking at potential premises and considering this idea which was first presented to HDC in 2018. Carrie asked: “Are you able to give a rough idea on timescales when the local people behind this might be able to discuss the hub?” James replied: “I can promise you it isn’t going to take 3 years to get an answer to you, but at the same time don’t want to get your hopes up.”

In relation to Community Energy Horsham, James implied the council are keen on exploring this as a way to reduce the carbon emission target for their estate, he was not able to give any timescales on a further meeting with the group, however he said: “I’m not someone to let a good idea go to waste. So, you’ll have to trust me, but feel free to chase me if you feel you’re not getting an update.”

Regarding Sussex Green Living’s 3-year plan James commented: “The work you do is fantastic and hope you can find a model that is sustainable financially as the challenges of decarbonisation are significant.”

Cllr Toni Bradnum said: “In my role as Horsham District Councillor responsible for Recycling and Waste, it was a pleasure to meet everyone at the Sussex Green Hub and see first-hand all they are doing to  make our world a cleaner, greener place. The Green Hub offers everyone the chance to pop in and learn something new, whether it’s deciding which wrappers are recyclable, or seeing the amazing skills of the people working in the repair cafe, it’s all there. My sincere thanks to everyone involved.”

Read the Horsham District Council’s press release about the visit to the Sussex Green Hub here.

Cllr James Wright, HDC Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural Affairs, at Sussex Green Hub.

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What Councillor James Wright, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for the Environment & Rural Affairs had to say about his visit Sussex Green Living are playing an important part in promoting sustainable living to residents of Horsham and across Sussex. They walk the walk by not only providing training but also facilitating practical initiatives like repair cafes and refill stations. It was great to meet the volunteers and hear their passion for fighting the climate crisis. We are very lucky to have such an organisation based locally and look forward to hearing what they are up to next.”