AMBITIOUS plans for Cheshire East Council to be carbon neutral by 2025 are unachievable and have now been pushed back to 2027.

The council made the 2025 commitment in May 2019 and the following year outlined how this would be achieved.

A report to next week’s meeting of the environment and communities committee says a great deal has been accomplished since then but financial pressures dictate the council won’t meet its target next year.

The report states: “In 2023/24 a range of carbon reduction projects have been developed and implemented, such as 10 additional air source heat pumps, the council’s first solar farm at Leighton Grange and a further 15 hectares of tree planting.

“Once fully completed in the spring 2024 these measures are forecast to move the council up to 68 per cent of its carbon neutral target.

“This is an increase from 41 per cent, as reported at the last annual update in February 2023.”

It says the council has projects in progress to achieve the 2025 target, but this is now unachievable because of external factors.

These include difficulty in securing off-takers for electricity produced though the solar farm and in acquiring the necessary volume of affordable small electric fleet vehicles within the required time-scales.

At full council last month it was also decided to defer capital expenditure on the second larger solar farm and transition to an electric vehicle fleet because of Cheshire East’s ‘very challenging financial position’.

Just over two years ago, the council also adopted the UK100 pledge, committing to the borough being carbon neutral by 2045.

Following that an initial action plan was developed to cover the years from 2024-29.

At next week’s meeting, councillors will be asked to give the go-ahead for this to go out for consultation ‘to ensure the actions and priorities within the draft plan are reflective of the priorities of the residents of Cheshire East’.

The environment and communities committee meeting takes place at 10am on Monday, March 11 at Macclesfield Town Hall.