HUNTINGDONSHIRE District Council could save more than £2.2million by 2012 – equivalent to nearly one-third of the council s annual Council Tax take – by cutting its carbon emissions by 30 per cent. The council is working with the Carbon Trust on a carbon

HUNTINGDONSHIRE District Council could save more than £2.2million by 2012 - equivalent to nearly one-third of the council's annual Council Tax take - by cutting its carbon emissions by 30 per cent.

The council is working with the Carbon Trust on a carbon management programme that includes spending a total of £1.1million on a raft of energy-saving projects but, although that amounts to half the short-term saving, the measures will continue to deliver cost and carbon savings beyond 2012.

Cumulative annual carbon dioxide savings, mostly from buildings and travel, amount to 6.25million tonnes over the first five years.

Researchers have identified HDC's 2007 emissions at just under 6million tonnes, with 62 per cent coming from buildings, 29 per cent from fleet transport - particularly the refuse and recycling fleet - three per cent from business mileage and six per cent from staff travel and from work. The carbon management programme is aimed at reducing that figure to less than 4.2million tonnes.

A variety of potential carbon-saving measures - 39 in all, and some already in place - include combined heat and power schemes, wind power, improved heating and timer controls, better insulation, reduced voltages at leisure centres and environmental awareness education.

With the council's new Eastfield Road depot and headquarters building in Huntingdon designed to the very latest energy-conservation standards, the majority of opportunities for energy saving are in council-operated leisure centres in Huntingdon, St Neots, St Ives, Ramsey and Sawtry.

Failure to act would have resulted in council operations generating an additional 2,000 tonnes of CO2 at an additional cost of almost £800,000 a year, the annual saving from 2012, according to environment team leader Chris Jablonski.

The programme was backed by HDC's cabinet last week and will now go to full council for adoption.

Councillor Jonathan Gray, the executive councillor responsible for the project, said it ambitious but achievable, although only two-thirds of the required CO2 savings had so far been identified.

"The national Government target is a reduction of 80 per cent by 2050 so this, if we achieve it, will put us ahead of the curve. If we chose to do nothing - and there are people who think it's a waste of time - it will be costing this council £800,000 per year by 2012," he added.

It may also put HDC in line for a share of a £50million pot of cash recently announced by Whitehall, he said.