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Courts go green

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Courts and tribunals across England and Wales are going green thanks to a £40m government investment to cut their carbon emissions.

  • £40m spent on making courts and tribunals more sustainable
  • Solar panels and other energy saving technology installed at buildings across the estate
  • HM Courts and Tribunals Service on course to reduce emissions by 10%

The money is being spent on a range of measures to improve sustainability and make HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) more environmentally friendly, now and into the future.

This includes reducing its consumption of fossil fuels by installing solar electricity panels at a number of buildings across the estate, as well as updating lighting, heating and air conditioning systems to ensure they are energy efficient. In addition, electric vehicle charging points are being rolled out to more buildings to encourage carbon-friendly travel.

This action will help to reduce the emissions generated by courts by 10% – saving approximately 6000 tonnes of carbon by 2025. It comes after four new ‘net-zero’ prisons were confirmed recently by ministers, designed to prevent the emission of 280,000 tonnes of CO2 and cut energy demand by half.

Together these steps are ensuring the justice system is playing its part to tackle climate change and help meet the government’s objective to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

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.”

HMCTS has also developed a five-year strategy to ensure sustainability is considered in everything it does. The strategy sets out measures to minimise its impact on the environment and increase biodiversity. It is split into four areas:

  • Reducing carbon emissions – by insulating buildings better, using technology to monitor and automate building management systems and reduce energy use, providing vehicle charging points and bike racks, and enabling court uses to access digital services remotely
  • Saving water – by using smart meter technology to track water use, fixing leaks promptly, and using water from showers and sinks to flush toilets and irrigate grounds where it is possible
  • Reducing waste – by increasing the volume of waste that can be reused and recycled, reducing the amount of food waste generated, and by reusing or donating unwanted office furniture and items
  • Protecting and nurturing biodiversity – by protecting and maintaining trees on its estate, increasing pollinator planting where possible and replacing shrubbery with native plants where possible

Meanwhile, £12 billion is being invested by the government to build back greener and achieve its commitment to reach net zero by 2050. This will include hydrogen and carbon capture technology, greener homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, flood defences and backing offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.

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