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Dorset climateDorset Council has been announced as a finalist for Best Climate Action or Decarbonisation Initiative in this year’s Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards.

The national awards recognise the very best in public services and celebrates the work of frontline service teams and the special initiatives being delivered by local authorities across the UK.

Dorset has been shortlisted, alongside eight other councils, for its extensive efforts to tackle the carbon footprint of its buildings.

The award submission focused on the council’s flagship decarbonisation programme which saw energy efficiency and renewable energy measures fitted in over 200 council-owned buildings in just 18 months.

The judges heard how the council’s retro-fit project was ‘immense in scale and complexity’ and involved tackling emissions in schools, libraries and leisure centres, as well as a huge number of council offices, depots, and other buildings.

The project, which has cut energy bills by over £1million a year for the council and its partners, was funded through the government’s public sector decarbonisation scheme.  Dorset Council secured £19million from the scheme, one of the largest awards in the country.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: ‘I’m extremely proud to hear our efforts to tackle carbon emissions have been recognised on a national level.

‘As a council we are committed to protecting our climate, and this project and the hard work of the team that delivered it truly is testament to that.

‘But it’s not just our own footprint that we’re concentrating on.  Over the past five years our Low Carbon Dorset programme has distributed millions of pounds to help local organisations reduce their emissions and prepare for the government’s net-zero targets.’

Thorner’s Primary School in west Dorset is just one of many council-owned sites to have benefitted from the project.  The small village primary school in Dorset’s Bride valley had solar panels fitted on its roof and old lights replaced with LEDs, as part of the council’s efforts to reduce emissions.

Mike Sitch, headteacher at Thorner’s Primary School, said: ‘The solar panels have been fantastic, and we’re already seeing a big reduction in our energy bills.

‘As a school that doesn’t have any gas and relies on electricity and an oil tank, it has been helpful because as prices have risen we’ve been able to offset that by the amount of renewable, free energy that we’ve been generating.

‘All the money we save on electricity can now be spent on new resources and activities for our pupils.’

Hear more about the project from staff and students at Thorner’s, in this short video.

Details on the awards and the other contenders can be found on the APSE website.   Winners will be announced at the Service Awards in September.

To find out more about the steps Dorset Council is taking to protect the county’s natural environment, climate and ecology, visit the council’s website.

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