Environment, Planning - Climate Change

On this webpage you can find information about what climate change is, our commitment to tackling climate change and how you play your part.

    Cumbria County Council has a long history of working to reduce carbon emissions, we published our first Carbon Reduction Plan in 2009. This led to the development of the county's first Climate Change Strategy in 2012. The council also led the production of the Cumbria Joint Public Health Strategy in 2019 which for the first time made a commitment to action on climate change.

    The council is now working towards the international, national and regional aspiration to achieve a low/net zero carbon economy by 2050 and is embedding the impacts of climate change in all council strategies.

    Cumbria Climate Change Working Group

    The council chairs the Cumbria Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) that brings together partners across the public, private and third sectors. The CCWG reports into the Cumbria Chief Executives Group and the Cumbria Leaders Board. Climate change is very high on the agenda. 

    The CCWG commissioned The Cumbria Carbon Baseline Report, an independent report drafted in February 2020 setting out Cumbria's baseline carbon footprint.

    Carbon Management Strategy

    Cumbria County Council's Cabinet unanimously agreed the Council's first Carbon Management Strategy in November 2020, which sets out how we will respond to the international, national and regional aspiration to achieve a low/net zero carbon economy by 2050.

    Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges to this generation and for many generations to come. 

    In April 2019, Cumbria County Council, all 6 District Councils and the Lake District National Park Authority formally adopted the Cumbria Joint Public Health Strategy. Incorporated within this strategy is the aim: To become a "carbon neutral" County and to mitigate the likely impact of existing climate change. 

    Cumbria County Council has a long record of accomplishment in leading environmental initiatives that benefit the wider environment, society and economy. However, the challenge of climate change may well pose the greatest one yet. The Council will meet this challenge both directly and indirectly by having a clear framework to ensure its operational and policy development supports sustainability in all its forms.

    This strategy clearly demonstrates a defined approach to the decarbonisation of the Council's corporate estate. It sets out a baseline and introduces a framework to tackle Carbon emitted from the Council's use of these assets. It also introduces the concept of an energy hierarchy, a clear strategy for reducing demand, increasing energy efficiency, introducing new renewable technology within our buildings and finally outlining exciting opportunities for off-setting that will represent the Council's investment in solar and wind generation of an appropriate scale to deliver a low/net zero carbon footprint.

    Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership

    The Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership is working towards the shared aim of making Cumbria the first carbon neutral county in the UK, by 2037. It's an ambitious and inspiring challenge that will touch on many aspects of life in Cumbria to bring down the county's greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

    The Partnership, jointly chaired by Cumbria County Council and CAfS, brings together nearly 70 organisations spanning the public, private and third sectors, with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions - the root cause of the climate emergency. Members include community groups, local authorities (district and county councils), the NHS, police, national parks, businesses and the farming community, among others.

    The Partnership recently successfully bid for £2.5 million of National Lottery funding to cut carbon emissions in the county. For more information visit the Cumbria Action for Sustainability website.

    What have we done so far?

    The council has achieved a number of CO2 reducing measures in the following areas:


    The council has invested in a fleet of electric pool cars and charging points, to help reduce the CO2 emissions when travelling across the county. Digital improvements with ICT equipment have also helped to reduce the need to travel to and between offices for meetings.

    The council has also invested in charging infrastructure, installing a total of 30 new electric vehicle charging points located at five Council-owned sites in the county. This is in addition to a number of charging points already provided by Cumbria County Council that are available for public use. 

    To encourage cycling and walking, the council has established a Cycling and Walking Programme to identify, develop and secure funding to deliver infrastructure improvements. The development of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) is a key part of this and these are currently being developed in Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Kendal, Workington, Whitehaven and Penrith.


    Since 2014, the council has invested £12.9m in its LED Street Lighting replacement and improvement programme, replacing over 45,000 street lights with more efficient and cost-effective LED technology. As a result, the programme has enabled the council to reduce the consumption of energy through the network by approx. 60% each year, reduce its annual lighting energy bill by over £1m and save more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

    As part of this programme, the Council believes it will be the first local authority in the UK to use a newly developed and adaptive LED street lantern which is Dark Sky friendly. 

    The council has also recently begun an exciting chapter in the Live Labs project by working with the global energy company Shell to investigate the sustainability and suitability of using additives derived from waste plastics as part of their highways surfacing programme to reduce carbon footprint and provide a more resilient road network.


    After reviewing the current corporate estate we have taken the steps to create a new Carbon Management Strategy 2020 to 2025 that will cover:

    • Baseline for carbon emissions
    • Review the current policy framework
    • Identify the key drivers for change
    • Identify phased carbon reduction targets based on specific resource and investment scenarios

    Nature and green space

    Environment Fund

    In February 2021, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet approved £1.2m of funding for schemes designed to improve the environment on Cumbria's highways. 

    The money will be used for a range of schemes in all corners of the county in 2021/22, with £200,000 allocated to each of Cumbria's six Local Committees. Local Committees will be asked to work with district, town and parish councils to make full use of the extra funding, drawing up a list of local projects and identifying match funding where possible. 

    The Environment Fund can be used for:

    • Verge Maintenance and Biodiversity Improvements
    • Tree Maintenance and Replacement
    • Footpath Improvements

    Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF)

    In September 2021, Cumbria County Council secured £228,000 of funding following a successful application to the Forestry Commission's Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF).

    The LATF is part of the Government's Nature for Climate Fund and is aimed at establishing more trees in non-woodland settings such as in riverbanks, hedgerows, parklands, urban areas, beside roads and footpaths, in copses and shelterbelts, including neglected, disused and vacant community spaces.

    Half of the funding secured will be match-funded by the council's Environment Fund.

    Barrow Local Committee will now be working with its communities and councils at a local level to make full use of the funding.

    Planting for Pollinators Project

    Cumbria County Council, as part of a partnership between the Cumbria Local Nature Partnership, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre and local communities, have received a grant of £699,500 for the Planting for Pollinators project. The funding comes as part of the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund which aims to boost green jobs and nature recovery.

    The partnership will work to increase populations of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects by restoring 158 hectares - that's around the size of 68 football pitches - of nectar and pollen-rich habitats. The funds will help grow wild flowers locally, and Cumbria's verges, burial grounds, farms and cycle routes are among the many green spaces that will be restored.

    Work will take place along three key 'B-Lines' - these are a UK-wide network of key connecting pathways for pollinating insects, running through our towns and countryside. In Cumbria the B-lines are on the coast, from Calder Bridge in the south, running north and west past Carlisle to Longtown; from east to west, running along the A66 trunk road from Penrith to Workington, and from north to south, from Penrith to the Solway.

    Roadside verges

    Cumbria County Council recognises roadside verges as a valuable resource for wildlife and, as such, that they need care and attention. As well as being a wildlife refuge, they are also greatly admired by locals and visitors, and are easily accessible to all.

    There are nearly 11,000km (nearly 7,000miles) of roadside verges in Cumbria, ranging from sea level in the west to over 600m (2,000ft) in the east, with nearly 500 species of wildflower recorded.

    Every verge managed by Cumbria County Council is maintained under a cutting programme. The timing of this cut is planned to help protect the wildflowers on the verge. Some verges are cut early in the year, some in July, August or September. This allows the flowers to flower and set seed, whilst also maintaining safety.

    Some stretches of verge that support a very good range of species or contain rare plants have been identified by the Council as special verges. Special care is given to protect and monitor their condition. Around 6% of the total length of country road verges in Cumbria are special verges, amounting to over 400 miles and covering approximately 500 acres.

    Roadside verges in Cumbria (PDF 2.5MB).

    The Queen's Green Canopy Project

    The Queen's Green Canopy Project (QGC) is a new initiative that encourages people across the UK to plant trees to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

    Cumbria is actively supporting this new initiative which was launched in May 2021. The project will see thousands of new trees planted, as well supporting a range of activities that will see ancient woodlands and forests protected for the future.

    On behalf of the HM Lord-Lieutenant for Cumbria, the Council will contact a range of organisations including schools, community groups and local/parish councils to help promote the new project and encourage the people of Cumbria to become involved.

    We can all play a part in reducing our impact on the world - small changes can make a big difference.

    Your home

    Around 22% of the UK's carbon emissions come from our home. Reduce your energy bills, enjoy a warmer home and cut your carbon footprint by:

    Your lifestyle

    Everything has a carbon footprint - from the food we eat to the clothes we buy. That means all of the emissions added up from the processes involved with making and shipping the final product to you or the shop where you bought it from. Check your carbon footprint with this easy calculator.

    Following the three 'R's: reduce, reuse, recycle, is a good way we can all try to minimise our impact on the environment.

    Reduce - the amount of the earth's resources that you use

    Set a new trend:

    Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions than aeroplanes?

    Say no to single-use plastic:

    • Try a refillable water bottle - lots of cafes, shops and businesses offer free tap water on request
    • Take reusable bags shopping - try keeping a couple of bags by the front door so you don't forget
    • Cut down on plastic bottles - shampoo bars and bar soaps are a great alternative

    Love food, hate waste:

    Reuse - don't just throw it away, could it be used for something else?

    • Learn how to extend the life of your clothes by repairing and upcycling them
    • There are lots of creative ways to re-use furniture, electrical items and more by learning to upcycle.

    Recycle - could the materials be used to make something new?

    • There are over 350 recycle points all over the county. These are the smaller recycle bank areas often conveniently found at places like your local supermarket or leisure centre. These are managed by your local district or borough council.

    Travel and transport

    Road transport is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon emissions in the UK and creates problems with local air pollution.

    Air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK every year. But what you might not know is that air pollution is 10 times worse inside your car. 

    Changing the way you travel to incorporate more walking, cycling and public transport, is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment, improve your health and fitness, all while saving some money. 

    If you are travelling by car, don't idle your engine. Idling is a significant contributor to local air pollution but switching your engine off when stationary, for example - when waiting at traffic lights, can help.

    If you are looking to change your car, consider an electric vehicle. The Council is working with partner organisations to improve the electric vehicle charging infrastructure around the county. 

    Climate Change is a highly important matter across Cumbria many of our partners are showing their commitment to help reduce the impact on our county.

    If you have any questions about climate change in Cumbria you can contact us: ClimateAction@cumbria.gov.uk.