A strategy to ensure almost 5,000 social rent homes are made carbon neutral by 2030 has been produced.

St Albans City and District Council says it is "committed" to tackling the climate emergency by cutting emissions across its area to net zero by the end of this decade.

As part of this effort, the council is looking to make "dramatic" improvements to the energy efficiency of its 4,952 social housing properties.

A strategy mapping the way forward was approved by a meeting of the housing and inclusion committee on January 26.

The council has decided that gas heating will no longer be installed in any of its new developments. Alternative options, such as air source heat pumps, will be installed instead along with other sustainability features including solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

The council has already embarked on two pilot schemes including a £750,000 initiative to retrofit 50 properties with cavity and loft insulation, solar panels, low energy lighting and other features.

This project, partly funded by a £250,000 Green Homes grant from Government, is due for completion at the end of March.

A bid for £1.5 million from another Government fund has been made to fund similar work at a further 143 properties.

The strategy document says for the council housing stock to be carbon neutral by 2030, an average of 619 properties a year will need to be retro-fitted.

It is estimated that the total cost will be £198 million, but a decrease in prices due to technological advances is expected to reduce that figure.

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, the Committee’s Chair, said after the meeting: "Our main challenge is to retrofit our existing 5,000 properties with energy efficient features, whilst at the same time trying to reduce the fuel poverty that many of our residents face. This means firstly prioritising insulation to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep a home warm.

“This will be an expensive task and we will be proactive in seeking as much Government funding as we can to achieve this."