What we're doing

We will be a net zero carbon organisation by 2030

In 2011 we pledged to reduce our corporate carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2022. We improved our building management systems and insulation and upgraded lighting in our buildings and in streetlights across the county. We also installed solar panels and other renewable energy systems on several corporate buildings, including administration hubs, libraries and schools. Through our activity and a decrease in the size of our corporate estate, we achieved this emissions target by 2020.

Since pledging to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030, we have widened the scope of our emissions reporting. This now incorporates our school buildings, our water usage and the broader indirect carbon emissions caused by our energy consumption.

In July 2021, we were awarded Carbon Literate Organisation bronze award status as part of our drive to become a net zero organisation by 2030.

We are working towards reaching the silver award level, with more staff undertaking accredited training on Carbon Literacy. This training helps them understand climate change and the carbon impacts of their everyday actions as well as transforming how we work and provide services.

In June 2022, we launched the largest-ever local authority roll-out of electric vehicle (EV) charging points in the UK. Partnering with six local councils and Connected Kerb, we will see the installation of thousands of charging points across the county, particularly to those residents without off-street parking. To help plan the network residents are being asked to register their interest to say where they would like the charging points located.

Our Carbon Management Plan outlines our approach to reducing our carbon emissions and achieving our net zero target.

Our recorded carbon emissions for 2021/22 totalled 30,400 tonnes of carbon (CO2e), which is a 10 per cent reduction against our 2019/20 baseline. We will continue monitoring our performance and reporting on our CO2 emissions quarterly and yearly.

  • We continue to invest in renewable energy. 

    We produce more clean electricity than we consume in delivering our core activities, excluding schools. This has been achieved through an ambitious programme to build solar farms on council land, integrate renewable energy technology into council buildings and installing over 70 solar panel systems at West Sussex schools. Read more about our renewable energy projects.

    Our Energy Strategy and action plan set the strategic direction for our sustainable energy investment to achieve our 2030 net zero target.

    We have also produced heat decarbonisation plans for 50 council buildings to show where we could install new, low carbon heating systems to replace those currently running on fossil fuels. Our Capital Programme will see £20 million invested over the period until March 2027 to cut carbon emissions from our County Council buildings and operations. We will also be investing £42 million in future energy generation and storage projects.

    In 2020, we launched our partnership with councils across West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove to provide residents with opportunities to install competitively priced quality solar panels and battery storage systems with the Solar Together Sussex group buying scheme.

  • We want to minimise our natural resource use. As a water-stressed county, our water resources are precious.

    We installed Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology across the top 20 water-consuming buildings in our corporate estate, covering more than half of our total water consumption. This advanced monitoring has enabled us to save water by detecting leaks and repairing them more quickly, as well as helping us spot any abnormalities in our water consumption volumes. 

  • We have formed a partnership with several of our district and borough councils and Connected Kerb to deliver the largest-ever local authority roll out of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints. This is part of our Electric Vehicle Strategy which sets out a vision to enable West Sussex residents to choose ultra-low emission vehicles and travel in a carbon-neutral way when travelling in a car or small van.

    Our aim is to deliver a publicly accessible and affordable chargepoint network across the county, powered by renewable energy. This ambitious scheme will give West Sussex residents the confidence to go electric in time for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030.

    To decarbonise our business travel, we’re moving our fleet to low emission models, and 2020 saw 42 hybrid cars joining the fully electric cars already on our fleet, replacing diesel and petrol models. We are enabling staff to continue working flexibly, using technology to help them reduce the need to travel. Our staff also have access to a dedicated Liftshare scheme and a Cycle to Work scheme to encourage sustainable travel choices.

    Through our Local Transport Improvement Programme, we will continue to focus on encouraging and enabling active travel through improved walking and cycling routes around schools, formalised and controlled crossing and school safety zones, as well as a range of behavioural change activities.

    Since 2018, we have installed over 26km of new cycling infrastructure to support residents in making active travel choices. We plan to provide an additional 30km of new cycling infrastructure over the four years from April 2021 to March 2025. We have also secured over £2.3m of Government funding to develop and implement permanent walking and cycling improvements across the county. 

    We are members of ACT TravelWise, a partnership of local authorities and other organisations promoting sustainable transport for residents.


  • We work with partners to support conservation and biodiversity. We are active members of the Sussex Nature Partnership which brings together more than 25 organisations in Sussex to secure the healthiest ecological system possible thereby protecting and enhancing the natural environment and all that it gives us.

    In 2019 we published our Pollinator Action Plan to support the delivery of a local environment full of flower-rich habitats, helping support sustainable pollinator populations and making places more attractive.

    Trees, woodlands and hedgerows are some of our county's greatest assets and are vital for sustaining wildlife habitats and creating a pleasant and sustainable environment. Our Tree Plan describes our approach to maintaining, protecting and improving tree cover in West Sussex.

    In partnership with the South Downs National Park authority, we are running a three-year cut-and-collect project in 11 parishes within the national park. The aim is to increase biodiversity in rural road verges using a different mowing regime. As part of the project, urban road verges in Midhurst will also be cut in the same way and we will be monitoring the increase in pollinator friendly plants. 

    For 2022 we have extended the pilot Community Road Verge Scheme. Now 18 local community groups and parish councils are helping to improve pollinator habitats and species abundance. We will continue to enable communities to share experiences and best practice by hosting our quarterly Nature Verge Network.  

    Our first pollinator highway from Lancing to the South Downs National Park links existing and new insect habitats, enabling pollinators to expand their foraging range.

    We are part of the Sussex Kelp Restoration Network, supporting kelp forest restoration to improve biodiversity and boost marine species abundance.

  • The food system is a significant source of carbon emissions. In West Sussex, food waste makes up around 40 per cent of general household waste and up to 70 per cent of that waste is edible food. 

    When we process residents' general waste, organic waste (including food waste) undergoes anaerobic digestion to produce biogas (for generating heat and energy) and a compost-like material used as a replacement for soil in land or landfill restoration. 

    With our partners in the West Sussex Waste Partnership, we are committed to preventing food waste in the first instance through our Fight Against Food Waste campaign which provides useful hints and tips on how to reduce food waste. We are also trialling separate food waste collections to understand the most effective approaches for our county to extract and reduce food waste.

    We're also working on food rescue with food partnerships in the county, and encouraging residents to share their surplus food to help those in food poverty and prevent waste.

  • We support our residents to reduce their waste and recycle more. Residents can visit our dedicated West Sussex Recycles pages to make an appointment to visit a Recycling Centre via our ‘Book to Recycle’ booking system, which is permanently in place at several sites.

    The pages also provide an A to Z of recycling, recycling preparation and waste prevention tips as well as information on how waste is processed.

  • A sustainable and prosperous economy is key to the future wellbeing of the county and is a priority for West Sussex County Council.

    The Economy Plan sets out our priorities for supporting the recovery and prosperity of the West Sussex economy. A keen focus is the business transition to a greener economy. We are working on a range of sustainability projects, assisting businesses with green innovation and carbon reduction.

    The Council have partnered with the regional hub of Clean Growth UK to deliver LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South and East) grants and specialist expertise to SME businesses across West Sussex, to boost the uptake of energy efficiency measures and green business development.

    We raise awareness of our county's outstanding sustainable tourism offer and local food and drink through Experience West Sussex.

    In 2022 the Council, together with the district and borough authorities, convened a Green Business Advisory Group for West Sussex, to provide a forum for dialogue between private and public sector, to better understand the opportunities and barriers of the green economy and to identify ways to support local businesses to take climate action. The discussions and findings of the group will help inform the Council’s future business support programmes.

    For more information on local and national support for low carbon and green business visit Business West Sussex.

  • To support climate change adaptation and resilience planning in West Sussex, we have created a Climate Adaptation Profile. This will be reviewed and updated annually.

    We are supporting communities to adapt and be resilient to climate change.

    The What If - You can make a difference community resilience programme, has been successfully supporting and educating communities across West Sussex. This will help to mitigate, respond to and recover from adverse events and emergencies.

    The predicted impacts of climate change can significantly adversely impact our communities. We are creating an additional sustainability module to the ‘What If’ programme, focusing particularly on activities and lifestyle changes for individuals and communities. Our intention is to increase our sustainability, reduce our carbon footprint and help to mitigate some of the predicted challenges ahead. Together, we can all make a difference.

    Our Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (2021/26) sets out how we fulfil our responsibilities under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and work in partnership to ensure flood risk is managed in an integrated way.

    We've invested in over 400 projects to a value of more than £4m, successfully supporting nearly 150 groups in local communities to deliver highway drainage and environmental improvements in areas of the county worst affected by flooding.

    Our website offers advice on what to do if you are affected by flooding, heatwaves and extreme weather events.

  • We are working together with district and borough councils across West Sussex to support and encourage climate action.

    We also continue to support and be an active member of several non-council partnerships.

    We are members of MODESHIFT (formerly ACT TravelWise), a partnership of local authorities and other organisations promoting sustainable transport for residents.