A NEW officer at the Forest Council will assess what must be done to meet the challenge of making the district ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030.

Charlie Leaman was appointed as ‘carbon reduction co-ordinator’ last month following the council’s declaration of a climate emergency in December last year.

Her appointment came as West Dean Parish Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ with the aim of being carbon neutral within 11 years.

The district council’s joint deputy leader with responsibility for climate emergency, Cllr Chris McFarling (Green, St Briavels) said: “Since the declaration, the council has conducted preparatory work to ‘get its own house in order’, reducing its own carbon footprint as an example for others to follow.”

Cllr McFarling has also set up a group within the Cabinet to assist in the development of longer-term strategy.

He said: “Ms Leaman is assessing the current greenhouse gas emissions of the council, developing a community engagement plan, researching opportunities for energy saving measures and renewable energy installations, along with increasing the green electricity supply to council buildings.

“The cabinet is developing their corporate plan and embedding climate emergency into our corporate priorities.

“In this way, every policy, report and decision made will consider the carbon reduction implications. Community engagement is also being considered at every opportunity and the council is keen to work collaboratively with the community, town and parish councils and other partners to tackle the climate emergency.

“We will keep everyone informed about progress in the Carbon Neutral 2030 challenge and enable communities and individuals to reduce their own carbon footprints.”

West Dean Parish Council (WDPC) declared a climate emergency at its meeting at Ellwood School on June 26, which was packed with climate activists and supporters.

Parish council chairman Cllr Paul Hiett said: “We are responding to this global challenge to keep warming to 1.5°C. This is something we simply have to do.

“We’ll now appoint a working group of councillors and local expertise to devise and prioritise a list of first next steps that can be pursued by WDPC.”