This month, we are recognising the goals reached as part of our Green City Plan. The plan sets out actions and activities the council aims to achieve to create a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city. 

We confirmed an investment of over £22 million to tackle climate change and to address the ecological decline. The first-year actions all sit under the five key themes in the Green City Plan, including delivering clean air, carbon reduction and sustainable travel. 

You can see a few of our top projects here. 

Here are some of the recent actions from our first year of our Green City Plan:

Council partnership with Meachers Global Logistics supporting Southampton NHS  

Southampton City Council, in partnership with Meachers Global Logistics and Wessex Procurement are supporting the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust with the storage and delivery of PPE. This new partnership is providing the local NHS Covid hubs with urgent PPE supplies when needed.

This arrangement is being offered through the Southampton Sustainable Distribution Centre (SDC); a service procured by the council and operated by Meachers Global Logistics. With over 600 pallets of PPE in secure storage, the Hospital has a central point to review stock levels, arrange delivery directly to the NHS hubs at convenient times and on demand. Consolidating stock is expected to reduce the total number of deliveries made into the city, easing congestion and reducing emissions and forms one part of the Council’s Green City Plan.

The SDC offers business an ‘out of the city’ storage facility where goods can be consolidated, delivered on demand and stock levels monitored and managed. The benefits include redirecting heavy goods vehicles intended for the City Centre to the SDC. Contents are unpacked, grouped together and then either stored on-site or re-packed onto a single vehicle. Deliveries from several suppliers intended for one end user are consolidated, reducing HGV trips.

Our new Clean Growth Fund confirmed  

As part of our Clean Growth Fund, work to reduce carbon emissions at three of the council’s buildings are set to commence. The fund is an integral part of the council’s Green City Plan and its commitment to tackle climate change by becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030. Work will deliver energy efficiency and renewable projects in non-domestic buildings.

With support from Salix Finance Ltd, £20million has been committed to the fund over the next 5 years. The Fund will be matched 50/50 by the council and Salix Finance limited. Offices, schools and other public buildings are being assessed to determine their specific requirements and will be planned as part of the ongoing phases of the fund.

Splitting this into phases will ensure work is planned and prioritised to deliver maximum reductions in carbon. The first phase provides a £1.2million investment in solar panels, lighting and heating efficiency measures. Reducing CO2 emissions by 200 tonnes and bills by £115,000 per year over the lifetime of the measures. Most of these financial savings will be reinvested back into the fund ensuring the fund has the capacity to deliver the CO2 emissions reductions needed across our entire stock.

Southampton City Vision is taking shape  

Southampton City Vision is our new Local Plan, a document that will set out the future development of new homes, work spaces, infrastructure and facilities across the city over the next 20 years and beyond.

To meet these requirements, our plan will have to Identify land for new homes and workspaces, maximising the potential of space available. The City Vision will also provide necessary infrastructure and facilities to support the growth of the city. And importantly, protect and enhance the environment.

We ran our first consultation from 10 February 2020 to 31 May 2020. The consultation was framed around six key challenges/themes. Of these, ‘environment and climate change’ was considered to be the most important.

Meanwhile we have introduced informal planning guidance on Air Quality to encourage best practice and guide us on future planning policy.

Further stakeholder engagement, detailed policy reviews and the formulation of technical evidence documents will be undertaken to help inform the development of a draft plan, which will again be subject to public consultation. All comments will be considered and a final version will presented to Cabinet for approval before submitted to the Secretary of State for independent scrutiny and approval to formally adopt. Though the examination timetable will be out of our hands, we hope for this to be during 2023/24.

Our Green Grid project is taking shape  

A Green Grid is an ecological network that connects a series of core ‘ecosystems’ with corridors and stepping stones of habitats.

Parks and open spaces form the core areas of the network connected by corridors of street trees, highway verges, railway embankments, and gardens etc.

Identifying a green grid for Southampton will enable better management and protection of biodiversity by identifying and recording what is of value.

We want more green infrastructure in our city. The benefits people receive from nature include the regulation of summer temperatures by trees, grass and soils managing surface water runoff and biodiverse green spaces supporting health and wellbeing. A green grid will help us recognise and safeguard existing green infrastructure and identify how the best benefits can be achieved by introducing more.

The cities green spaces can be fragmented. To maximise their potential, they need to be networked allowing people and wildlife to move around together. Work to develop our Green Grid started in January, the first step is to produce a draft map clearly identifying our green spaces. The team are assessing socio-economic data alongside data on priority habitats, designated sites, street trees, public rights of way and to produce a draft map to be published by May.

We will undertake an engagement exercise over the summer to ensure the Green Grid provides a thorough and accurate interpretation of the city and how improvements might achieved.

We anticipate the Green Grid will be published around the end of the year, accompanied with an action plan identifying priorities for delivering improvement.