A clear way forward towards reaching South Lakeland’s carbon neutrality targets has been agreed by councillors.

South Lakeland District Council’s cabinet has approved the authority’s Climate Change Action Plan – informed by views gathered at public climate conversations.

A Community Climate Fund worth £20,000 to local projects has also been approved by full council to support the plan – and the council’s targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. SLDC also supports a county-wide carbon neutral target of 2037.

Councillor Dyan Jones, portfolio holder for climate emergency and localism, said: “South Lakeland District Council takes the business of climate change seriously and sustainability underpins everything we seek to do.

“As a council, we declared our position back in 2019, recognising the emergency, committing to action and unanimously agreeing to make this a public commitment by informing, influencing and implementing in all areas under our direct control, where feasible and realistic.

“We intend, as a council, to work towards becoming carbon neutral and setting a target now provides further focus and leadership.

“These targets will not be easy. Nevertheless, although ambitious, it is crucial that this date sets a beacon or benchmark for others to note and hopefully follow in their own practices.”

Cllr Jones added: “We want to be a catalyst, to collaboratively support community engagement and on the ground action. To think globally and act locally. We want to promote ‘what we can do together,’ sharing responsibilities and decisions working towards these targets – something we cannot do in isolation.

“I am looking forward to seeing this initiative grow, collaboratively, with sustainability and environment at the core of what we do with parishes and towns led by groups of like-minded folks from across the district.”

In March last year, the council, along with all other Cumbrian authorities and the National Parks, adopted the Cumbria Public Health Strategy. The strategy includes a key aim of becoming a “carbon neutral” county and mitigating the likely impact of existing climate change.

A Climate Change Working Group, made up of all Cumbrian local authorities and National Park Authorities, representatives of the business community, environmental groups and statutory bodies, commissioned Smallworld Consulting, a Lancaster University-based consultancy led by climate change expert Mike Berners-Lee, to prepare a study identifying the county’s current carbon footprint and recommending appropriate targets.

Leader of South Lakeland District Council, councillor Giles Archibald, said: “We are facing a cataclysmic disaster if we don’t address climate change. This is an existential crisis. We in Cumbria can’t solve the problem ourselves but there are many ways we can contribute to the solution, show leadership and work with others to make a difference.

“This plan is ambitious but has achievable targets, and shows a clear way for us as an authority and the district as a whole to achieve carbon neutrality.”