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Case Study:

Operational Elements of Environmental Plans



Publication of the Climate Action Plan has brought greater responsibilities and challenges to the local authority sector. Organisational transformation is needed to demonstrate an exemplar role of local authorities. Cork County Council has always been at the forefront of this agenda. In recognition of the urgency of the challenge, the Chief Executive has enacted the development of the following plans:

  1. A five-year Climate Change Operational Action Plan; and,
  2. A five-year Biodiversity Operational Action Plan.


A dedicated special projects team has been put in place and is led by a director of service. The purpose of these plans is to set out the mitigation actions required from an operational perspective. These mitigation measures are intended to reduce the severity, scale and nature of the current challenges. They will help to challenge and change behaviour in order to limit further escalation of the current climate situation.

Accordingly, directors have been asked to engage with their senior teams initially in identifying a range of measures that can be taken over the coming five years to mitigate the problem. Consideration will be given but not limited to the fol lowing operational activities/ supports and business areas:

  • infrastructure (buildings, fleet, operational plant etc.);
  • everyday activities (systems and processes);
  • procurement;
  • contracts; and,
  • impacts on stakeholders and partners, e.g., how the Council may be able to champion best practice in climate change mitigation and biodiversity across communities and other stakeholders.

The Plans will set out how the Council will embed mitigation measures into its frontline operations. It will also include target timelines relating to the implementation of these measures.


Embedding mitigation measures into frontline operations and services represents a first in the local authority sector. An innovative approach of this nature ensures continued advancement towards the onerous 2030 and 2050 public sector climate action targets.

The five-year plans will set out realistic and achievable projects, many of which are underway or ‘shovel ready’. This process, backed up by a dedicated and resourced Energy and Climate Change Unit, will undoubtedly lead to environmental improvement, economic efficiency and a culture of behavioural change.

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Project Details:

In the short term, directorates’ responses were due by 30th August 2019. Plans are to be presented by the Chief Executive to councillors for consideration in September 2019.

In the medium to long term, five-year plans will be adopted to include milestones and key performance indicators, and to progress the plans in parallel to Cork County Council’s Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Local authority project contact
Louis Duffy
Director of Service
Cork County Council
Floor 5 County Hall
Co. Cork T12 R2NC