Waste collections accounted for nearly half of a council's 2,475 tonnes of carbon emissions in the last year – sparking a call for them to be tackled as a priority.

Councillor Malcolm Lamb labelled the climate crisis the 'elephant in the room' at South Lakeland District Council's overview and scrutiny committee – and called for more to be done to turn the tide.

Glasgow City Council has recently approved plans for a large fleet of hydrogen-powered bin lorries in a bid to lower its carbon footprint and, while Cllr Lamb accepted that was not likely to happen to SLDC in the next few years, he said current measures were only 'scratching the surface'.

He said: “I think we need to address the elephant in the room here.

“The Energy Saving Trust says that if we do a few things then we can reduce CO2 by 50 tonnes a year, but that’s just scratching the surface of the problem.

"We need to look at waste collection first, which is now half the CO2 emitted by the council’s activities in the last year.

“We have to wake up to the fact that to be able to solve this by our 2030 deadline then we have to bring about massive radical changes at the council in the way that we do things.

“I say we start with waste collection because it’s such a big part of the council’s emission.

"But we also know that there are not going to be hydrogen-powered bin wagons in the next few years, so something else has to give instead."

A report on the council's emissions was presented to councillors by Hannah Girvan, the council's specialist sustainability co-ordinator.

She said: “It’s a year now since the climate change action plan came out and, one year on, it's still a priority for the council.

"We do still want a carbon neutral council by 2030.

"Last year's emissions were 2,475 tonnes of carbon, which is a slight fall from the year before by 67 tonnes.

“It’s still waste collection that is our biggest emitter of carbon, which are nearly half our emissions in the last year.

"Leisure centres and other office space are also of concern.

"But, on the positive side, staff travel in the last year hasn’t made up as much of our CO2 output as in previous years and we have seen a fall in our emissions since 2008.”

The council is also looking for the public to help in the climate fight.

For more information about what you can do to make a different, go to https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/your-environment/climate-change-and-biodiversity/what-we-can-do-to-reduce-carbon-emissions