THE Forest Council has secured £300,000 to fast-track the district to its net-zero carbon emissions target. 

The funding, which comes from government agency Innovate UK, will be used to better train staff and councillors on how net zero will be achieved, along with identifying improvements to current projects and increasing community action.

These initiatives are part of a collaborative project, led by FODDC, with West Oxfordshire and Cotswold District Councils, called Forest Fast Followers (F3).

Cabinet member for Climate Emergency Chris McFarling explained: ”We are delighted to announce this vital funding, as a welcome boost to our target of achieving net-zero by 2030.

"We are one of only 21 councils to gain this funding, and as such, will be at the forefront of creating best practice for UK. Tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of what we do as a Council.

"The F3 programme gives us an opportunity to really understand where the barriers are to tackling climate change and how we can start to remove these.

"Training will help us to embed a culture of climate literacy, understanding and action through our staff and councillors.

"Bringing Forest of Dean communities on this journey is key to making sure that we achieve the outcomes we set out to. Those living and working in the district are a vital part of this journey."

The council says F3 "aims to resolve barriers" by: 

  • Training Council staff and Councillors to better engage with how we achieve net zero by 2030.
  • Increasing community action and improved understanding of the impact of this on districts. 
  • Identifying and evaluating process improvements to ‘live’ projects in the districts. 

The funding will be used to recruit a NetZero Innovation & Delivery Officer, who will lead in educating c.400 officers and councillors.

They will deliver "a range of tailored training and knowledge that goes beyond basic carbon literacy" for councillors and staff, ensuring that net-zero is "at the heart of the work that they do for communities". 

Alongside training, it is hoped F3 will identify and address barriers within the council and the community to net-zero development, renewable energy generation and local smart energy grids.

The council says finding solutions that alleviate these barriers will "increase energy security in rural areas and reduce the need for grid reinforcement in nationally significant landscapes."

A statement adds: "Communities are at the heart of rural life. Engaging, enabling and facilitating residents and businesses to overcome 'system barriers' will be key to meeting the district’s net-zero target.

"F3 will identify those barriers, and trial tailored approaches to overcome these in our communities."

The project begins on July 1 and more information will become available through the council’s social media and web channels.