Midlothian Council’s carbon footprint down by a quarter

Stock photo of electric car charging signage at Midlothian County Hospital 14/8/17
Stock photo of electric car charging signage at Midlothian County Hospital 14/8/17

An increase in renewable energy has helped Midlothian Council reduce its carbon footprint by 27 per cent over the last year, according to a new report.

However, the report says that a large part of the improvement may have nothing to do with the council’s own efforts and may be “coincidental”.

It says instead that a major factor in reducing the council’s footprint has been the continued decarbonisation of grid electricity.

The summarised report says the result “implies that a large part of the reduction in emissions from council activities is not down to its own efforts, but is coincidental: in other words that the increased generation of renewable energy in Scotland is the driver”.

Despite this, the summary praises the council’s “considerable effort” to reduce emissions from increasing the use of electric vehicles, replacing over 900 street lights with LED lanterns and the implementation of “various projects” across the council.

It also points to a growth in renewable energy generated by the local authority due to a system at Roslin Primary School being included, as well as installations at Gore Glen and Bilston Primary Schools helping them generate 18,000kWh of green electricity last year.

The submission, which was sent to the Scottish Government last month,  will not be made publicly available.

Councillors were last week asked to note the contents of the report at a meeting of the local authority’s Performance Review and Scrutiny Committee, with only a summary of its highlights published.

A spokesperson for Midlothian Council confirmed that the submission itself remained under wraps and would not become a public document until “it has been reviewed by the Sustainable Scotland Network”.

Every local authority is required to produce an annual report on its climate change activity for Scottish Ministers.

Highlights of this year’s so-far secret report included in the summary paper include a drop in greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Midlothian of 28 per cent in the last two years. The council’s own carbon footprint has also fallen over the last two years by 27 per cent. The summary also warns that different factors such as Christmas lights can affect the annual findings.

It says: “Comparisons of emissions in different reporting years are somewhat hindered due to different sources being considered in different years. For example, previous submissions have included those arising from commuting and staff use of private motor vehicles, and excluded emissions associated with stair lighting, door entry systems and Christmas lighting.”

It is unclear whether Christmas lighting is included in the submission.