COLCHESTER Council has announced a Climate Emergency Action Plan to help it achieve carbon neutrality within a decade.

In response to the authority's unanimous declaration of a climate emergency, council bosses commissioned the Carbon Trust to compile a report on the borough's energy consumption.

The Carbon Trust measured the authority's carbon footprint at 6,180 tCO2e, or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Leisure World is the largest single emitter across the council's portfolio, accounting a massive 35.3 per cent of these emissions.

Most of the emissions, 76.7 per cent, come from stationary emitters like buildings and light sources, whilst gas emissions account for 60.8 per cent of the total.

The Carbon Trust said an error in the way Colchester Council had reported its emissions for its vehicles resulted underreporting of figures over the last five years.

However the organisation praised the authority's work to reduce its emissions, which have gone down 40.8 per cent since 2008.

A spokesperson for Colchester Council said: “The council’s declaration of a climate emergency last year, set it on a course to reduce its own emissions to net carbon zero by 2030 as well as helping residents and businesses capture the opportunities and benefits of action on climate change.

“To enable us to determine the scope of the work necessary to meet the challenges ahead, we commissioned the Carbon Trust to undertake a review of our carbon footprint, existing strategies for reduction and work with officers, to help shape priorities going forward.

"This process confirmed through action taken to date, the council has already achieved a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from our 2008 baseline – one year earlier than planned.

“We know this commitment will bring even tougher challenges ahead, as the Carbon Trust report outlines, but our initial Climate Emergency Action Plan does help us to identify the six key themes necessary to deliver on our ambition to tackle climate change.”

Key strategies include the creation of a carbon management plan, embedding climate change in the organisational culture of the authority and a review of the planning system to see how to achieve carbon neutrality in new and existing developments.

Colchester Council also plans to plant 200,000 trees by 2024 as part of the Colchester Woodland Project.

The action plan will be examined by the cabinet on Wednesday and reviewed by the authority's conservation, environment and sustainability task and finish group going forward.