Key challenges and opportunities

We want to help the Melton borough to become carbon neutral, but we know that rural areas like ours will face tougher challenges than many urban areas. This is because our population is spread out across a large area, we are more reliant on cars for transport, and have a housing stock that will be more challenging to retrofit to make it energy efficient.

We have summarised some of what we think are the key issues locally by different themes. Please click on each theme title for more information. For further more detailed information please download the document below. 

The demographic challenge; our growing and aging population

Local energy use and emissions are strongly affected by both the size of the population and the types of households within it. The population of the Melton borough is steadily growing. More people will require more energy, use more resources, and produce more emissions and more waste. They will require more homes and increase the demands on transport networks and other facilities.

The borough’s population is also aging, all of the predicted population growth will be accounted for by growth in the number of people aged over 65 and retired. With this change, an increasing proportion of dwellings are expected to be heated and use more energy during weekdays.

In part due to the aging of the population, the average size of each household is expected to fall. There is a minimum level of energy use in any home, which applies regardless of the household size (for example, to heat them and run basic appliances such as cookers and fridge freezers). Because of this, an increase in the proportion of smaller sized households is expected to also increase domestic energy use per person overall.

Domestic emissions; our housing challenge

To become carbon neutral by 2050 will be a significant challenge, we will need in effect to completely decarbonise housing in the Melton borough within the next 30 years. Although a decline in housing emissions has occurred in the last 15 years due to a lower carbon energy mix, we are not able to rely on this moving forwards.

Reducing domestic emissions will be a challenge because of the makeup of the housing stock;

  • Almost one in five homes are thought to be more than 100 years old, older homes tend to be less efficient and are often harder to insulate
  • There is a high proportion of larger homes, which require more energy to heat
  • There is a high proportion of detached and semi-detached homes, which can lose heat more easily
  • There is a high proportion of homes using gas and ‘other’ fuels such as oil, as their source of energy.
  • The borough has many listed buildings and conservation areas where homes will need to be adapted whilst protecting their valued local character and heritage
  • The housing stock is largely owner-occupied, it is likely to be harder to retrofit as there is less financial support and reduced regulatory pressure to make changes

New energy efficient housing will be needed to meet the needs of our growing population. We will need to work with the development industry to help them implement higher energy efficiency building standards, including the Government’s Future Homes Standard. This will effectively see the end of gas boilers in new homes, higher energy efficiency requirements and the widespread uptake of new heating technologies such as heat pumps over the next five years.

Industry and business emissions

A larger than average proportion of local emissions come from industry and business in the Melton borough, this is due to the mix of sectors locally including larger than average manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Going greener will look different for every business, however, we intend to help local businesses achieve their green aspirations, and help to link them with appropriate training, advice, and funding opportunities.

Over 400 hundred new green jobs are expected to be needed in the Melton borough by 2030 and more than 600 by 2050. These new jobs will be needed to drive forward action to tackle climate change, including the adoption of low carbon heating systems and improving the energy efficiency of local buildings.

Local and sustainable produce has a role to play in reducing food emissions, as the rural capital of food, we think that there may be opportunities for sustainable growth in this part of our local economy to meet increasing consumer demand.

Increasing demand for low carbon buildings from the business community alongside regulatory pressures is likely to be a catalyst for our commercial property landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, and we need to consider how we might support them to provide low carbon commercial buildings, to help ensure that Melton remains an attractive place for businesses to operate.

Transport emissions

Transport emissions have remained relatively constant over time, small benefits from more efficient new vehicles and a small number of electric and hybrid vehicles have been offset by an increase in the total number of vehicles. There are currently only 8 electric vehicle charging points in the Melton borough, we think we will need to expand this significantly to meet future needs.

Almost half of the borough’s population live in rural areas where car dependency is increased, due to less frequent public transport options and people living further away from key services and facilities, making access by foot or bicycle less likely. As a rural area, there will be limits in how much we can reduce car travel, it will be important to work collaboratively with communities to identify opportunities to reduce transport emissions. This includes opportunities to work with partners to improve sustainable transport options.

Over two thirds of people in the borough normally commute to work in a motor vehicle and currently only a few hundred of these motor vehicles are electric. Only 18% of commuter journeys are made using more sustainable transport, mainly walking (12%), with very few people using trains, buses or cycling to get to work. However, the coronavirus pandemic increased homeworking and public interest in cycling and walking. We think there may be an opportunity to build on this to help reduce the use of car for commuting.

The natural environment

Our natural environment of quality open countryside and green spaces is a key part of what makes the Melton borough a great place to live, work and visit. In the future there is lots of potential for nature projects to provide amenity, wildlife and climate benefits such as, tree planting, creation of woodland, creation of new habitats, sustainable drainage projects to name a few. The natural environment like grassland and woodland areas across the Melton borough already help to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, equal to just under 10% of direct local emissions.

By utilising more opportunities to create new nature projects we can reduce our emissions, adapt to the impact of climate change and support public health and wellbeing.

In addition, management of land has impacts on local emissions, the growing of crops and built-up areas both result in greenhouse gas emissions. We can help to reduce these emissions through good land management practices. We can also help adapt to climate change by adding more blue and green infrastructure in our built-up areas, for example, street trees, which can provide shade to help cool us in the summer and help to reduce the impacts of flooding.

Waste and the use of resources

Everything we buy has a carbon footprint and that footprint can get bigger depending on how we disposed of the things we buy. The Council needs to consider such impacts in what it buys as well as use its leadership role to help inform others to make more sustainable choices.

We are responsible for household waste collections, in 2020 households in the borough produced over 20,000 tons of household waste, 45% of this household waste is currently recycled, composted or reused. This will need to increase if we are to reduce emissions.

To become carbon neutral by 2050 we think we will need to work towards developing the circular economy across Leicestershire. This means we will need to fully embrace the waste hierarchy and work with our partners within the Leicestershire Waste Partnership to deliver waste management services and campaigns that encourages prevention, reuse, recycling and reduces waste to landfill. This will include food waste to ensure we meet the Governments plans for kerbside food waste collections to be introduced by 2023.

We also think that we will need to encourage businesses to reduce their waste, take up recycling collections and re-use their food waste. There is an opportunity to also engage with them about reducing packaging and making their products more repairable and recyclable.

Renewable energy generation in the Melton borough

40.7MWh of renewable energy was generated in 2020 within the Melton borough. Almost all was through solar and wind generation, with 16MWh of solar generation spread across 1,198 solar installations (including domestic roof installations) and 19.9MWh from 20 wind turbine installations. That's enough power to provide electricity for around 12,500 typical homes, almost half of the homes in the Melton borough.

We understand that, as the local authority, we have an important role in supporting homeowners and tenants to install more local renewable energy generation, such as solar panels to local people’s homes. We recently secured £386,950 to help around 40 lower income homeowners and tenants who live in the least energy efficient homes install solar panels at no cost to them. In addition, as part of a £640,000 project to help improve the energy efficiency of the Council’s housing stock, the Council will install solar panels to some of our tenants who are not connected to the gas network.

Last updated 19 May 2023
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