Reading Borough Council (RBC) has exceeded its corporate carbon footprint reduction target three years early.

The council has saved over £7m in energy costs in the last ten years through the emission cuts.

However, total emissions from council-owned company Reading Buses have increased by more than a third in the last five years.

A report on the council’s carbon footprint in 2017/18 was discussed at the strategic environment, planning and transport committee this week.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, called the carbon footprint reduction and savings “a remarkable achievement”

He added: “We won’t stop there however. New initiatives will build on this success including investments in energy efficient technologies in buildings such as the Town Hall, leisure sites and the Bennet Road depot. “

The carbon footprint for the Council’s corporate activities in 2017/18 was 53.9 per cent lower than in 2008/09, exceeding its 50 per cent by 2020 target three years early.

Emissions for the council’s wider activities, including schools and outsourced operations, have been reduced by 38 per cent.

However, emissions from Reading Buses, which have increased by around 34 per cent in the last five years, have not been included in these figures.

Reading Buses emissions increased by 40 per cent from 2012 to 2016, before falling in 2016/17.

They have increased again in 2017/18, which the council says is partly due to network expansion and the amount of congestion and roadworks in the last year.

Councillor Jane Stanford-Beale said: “If we can reduce the congestion by trying to schedule road works and network upgrades better, that could reduce carbon footprint.”

Cllr Page said the council are looking to smartening up liaison between officers at RBC and Reading Buses to address some of these issues.

RBC also set a target to increase renewable energy use to 15 per cent of total energy consumption by 2020 but renewable energy use only reached 4.5 per cent in 2017-18.

The council say the key issue in reaching this target is finding renewable heat alternatives to gas.

Councillor Jason Brock, lead member for Corporate and Consumer Services, said: “The government still haven’t really got behind any effort to encourage better sustainable energy production.

“They really need to get real about this and invest.”