A HAMPSHIRE council leader has pledged to make his authority carbon neutral by the 2012 Olympics - but admitted he had no idea how many emissions had to be cut.

Eastleigh Borough Council leader Councillor Keith House told a conference clear political leadership and education was more important to meet the ambitious target and that the figures would be known in time.

He set out the council's plan to hundreds of delegates on the first day of the Low Carbon South East Conference at Southampton University.

Cllr House was a keynote speaker at the conference, organised by the Environment Centre, a locally based environmental charity, and sponsored by the South East England Development Agency.

Schemes to offset carbon emissions such as more energy insulation would be rolled out from February to help balance the eco-scales, he said.

"Energy insulation projects are simple and the most effective way of making a difference. It will be open and transparent.

"We will do it in such a way that will get industry and residents across the borough on board, so when they fly off on cheap flights they can join in."

He said the scheme would also help reduce fuel poverty.

Cllr House said the council was working out the details of the targets, based on the authority's carbon footprint.

Asked how much carbon had to be reduced, he said: "No idea. The data capture work isn't finished. At the end of that process we will have an answer."

Cllr House insisted lots of small changes rather than grand ones were key, summed up by the slogan: "Keep it Simple, Stupid".

He said the council was already working to cut carbon by green travel plans for staff and through incentives such as the council paying the fees for planning applications for renewable energy schemes.

His council was the first to introduce alternate weekly bin collections and now has a 40 per cent recycling rate for household waste. Plans for separate kitchen waste recycling would take the figure to 50 per cent, he said.

"We want to be one of the European leaders in this area not just in the UK," he said.