Academics at the university will work with the island’s council to try to make the island carbon neutral, reduce waste, and improve transport and water infrastructure.

Council chiefs announced their ambition to become an Eco-Island earlier this year and hosted an event named the Big Green Picnic over the bank holiday weekend to raise awareness about the initiative and encourage island residents to reduce their carbon footprints.

Planned policies include an island-wide plastic bag ban, charging points for electric vehicles in council car parks, and financial aid to help people insulate their homes.

Council chiefs also want to ensure new developments are built to high environmental standards, and launch an awards scheme to reward companies and organisations for eco-friendly work.

They hope the initiative will give the county the lowest carbon footprint in England.

Under the partnership with Southampton University, businesses and entrepreneurs will have the chance to come up with solutions to fulfil the Eco Island themes – development of renewable energy, reduction in waste, and optimised transport and water infrastructure – and work on them with academics.

Economic, social and behavioural studies will also be carried out by university researchers to allow the council to measure the impact and success of the Eco Island vision.

Council chief executive Joe Duckworth said: “This memorandum will serve to cement the excellent working relationship we have developed with the university and will help to further our long term ambition of making the Isle of Wight carbon neutral by 2020.”

University of Southampton vice-chancellor Professor Bill Wakeham said: “We hope to be able to help the Island make great strides towards sustainability – particularly in the areas of transport, housing, water, waste and energy – and in doing so to develop new science, technology and social understanding that can be adopted elsewhere in the UK and worldwide.”

Kate Martin

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