Merton Council sets out plan in challenge to decarbonise the borough

The journey towards net-zero carbon in Merton took another step forward on 7 February, as Merton’s Cabinet approved the council’s Climate Delivery Plan for the year ahead. As well as setting clear priority actions for 2022, the document reviews the progress made to date on the council’s goals of becoming a net-zero carbon organisation by 2030, and making Merton a net-zero carbon borough by 2050.

Looking back over the last year, the report notes that the majority of the council’s priority actions for 2021 have either been completed or are on course to be completed. These include important steps like:

  • Engaging with social housing providers to drive domestic retrofitting
  • Implementing a COVID-19 Transport Strategy
  • Ensuring all new taxis are zero emission capable
  • Planting over 260 trees on the borough’s streets and green spaces
  • Continuing to source a 100% green electricity tariff for council buildings

Merton’s successes in 2021 have been aided by a number of hard-working volunteer groups. In particular, the Merton Climate Action Group, which formed in January 2021, has developed several community-led projects which promote a low carbon economy, some of which have been allocated Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy funding for 2022, such as Merton Garden Streets.

Other positive developments include:

  • Securing approximately £12 million for the decarbonisation of the refuse collection fleet from 2025, and a further £6 million for the decarbonisation of Merton’s internal fleet, which will also reduce air pollution from the council’s vehicles.
  • The number of EV charging points increasing by over 60% from 149 to 239.
  • The introduction of the borough’s first all-electric and hydrogen bus route – the 200 from Raynes Park to Mitcham
  • Increasing the number of cycle hangars in the borough from one to 20

Over the next year, the priorities will be as follows:

  • Developing and delivering a retrofit engagement plan to encourage home and business owners, landlords and tenants to retrofit their properties.
  • Developing long-term strategies for walking, cycling and EV charging infrastructure.
  • Delivering active travel supporting infrastructure measures, including cycle parking and electric cycle hire schemes.
  • Working to procure a long term delivery partner for the decarbonisation of the council’s buildings.

At the same time as approving the delivery plan, the Cabinet allocated up to £150k to top up government and GLA investment in retrofitting people’s homes, allowing for a whole house retrofit where government funding wouldn’t be enough. This move will help local householders to reduce their energy bills and their carbon emissions at the same time.

Councillor Martin Whelton, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said: “We’ve always known that it would be a monumental task to reach net-zero carbon in the council by 2030, and in the borough by 2050. In this Delivery Plan, we’re being transparent not only about the size of the challenge, but also about the steps we are taking to achieve our goals.

“Whilst the change in our emissions is moving in the right direction, we need to be faster which is why we aim to accelerate our decarbonisation, and I would encourage residents and local businesses to consider how they can make a difference. You can find out how to do so on the council’s climate action webpages. “The report is clear on how much work has gone into the effort to decarbonise Merton over the last year, both from our staff and from our tireless volunteers especially on the Merton Climate Action Group. I want to thanks everyone who has contributed and the difference that they’re all making in our community”