Greener courts initiative

The Government is investing in a £40 million initiative to cut carbon emissions of courts across England and Wales.

The investment will see a range of new measures designed to improve the sustainability of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), making it more environmentally friendly, both now and into the future.

Proposed measures include a reduced consumption of fossil fuels by installing solar electricity panels at a number of HMCTS buildings, as well as updating lighting, heating and air conditioning systems to ensure that they are energy efficient. HMCTS will also install a number of electric vehicle charging points to encourage carbon-friendly travel.

It is thought that the new measures will help to reduce court-generated emissions by 10%, a saving of approximately 6000 tonnes of carbon by 2025.

To help implement the new measures, HMCTS has developed a five-year strategy split into four areas:

  • Reducing carbon emissions: This includes better insulation of buildings and use of technology to monitor and automate building management systems to reduce energy use. Vehicle charging points and bike racks will be provided, and greater emphasis will be placed on accessing digital services remotely.
  • Saving water: Smart meter technology will be used to track water use, leaks will be fixed promptly, and water from showers and sinks to flush toilets and irrigate grounds will be used where possible.
  • Reducing waste: The volume of waste that can be reused and recycled will be increased, there will be a reduction in the amount of food waste generated, and unwanted office furniture and items will be reused or donated.
  • Protecting and nurturing biodiversity: Trees on court sites will be protected and maintained, and shrubbery will be replaced with native plants to increase the amount of pollinator plant

By taking these steps the justice system hopes to tackle climate change and help meet the government’s objective to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Some measures, it is reported by HMCTS, have already began successful implementation with solar panel installations at courts in Coventry, Leicester, Mansfield, Northampton, North Staffs, Nottingham, Shrewsbury and Cardiff.

Additionally plans for four new “net-zero ready” prisons were confirmed recently by ministers, designed to prevent the emission of 280,000 tonnes of CO2 and cut energy demand by half.

Courts Minister James Cartlidge said:

“It is vital that we build back greener from the pandemic and take this opportunity to improve sustainability throughout the criminal justice system.”

“This investment will reduce the carbon footprint of our courts and tribunals by 10% – with solar panels, electric car charging points and more efficient buildings slashing our energy demand.”

“This is part of our plan to roll out technology and modernise the estate to deliver a better service for all court users.”

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