To note the progress made during 2021/22 against the Climate Change Action Plan.
Cabinet Portfolio: Jobs and the Local Economy
Strategic Directorate: Regeneration and Environment Services
The Chair welcomed the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment as sponsor for this programme and other officers in attendance. The apology of the Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy who was unable to attend the meeting was noted.
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet Meeting to be held on 25 April 2022. At its meeting on 30 October 2019, the Council declared a climate emergency and produced a policy and action plan “Responding to the Climate Emergency”. This set out key policy themes of Energy; Housing; Transport; Waste; Built and Natural Environment; Influence and Engagement.
At its meeting on 23 March 2020, Cabinet resolved to establish the targets of:
· The Council’s carbon emissions to be at net zero by 2030 (NZ30)
· Borough-wide carbon emissions to be at net zero by 2040 (NZ40)
The report provided an update on progress against actions outlined in the 2021/22 Action Plan, with particular attention paid to baselining work, which was important factor in the continuing strategic development of the Council’s response to the climate emergency. The Board was referred to the baseline information outlined in the report.
The following themes were highlighted as a framework for action:
· Built & Natural Environment.
· Influence & Engagement.
The Strategic Director drew attention to the £6.4m of additional investment to support initiatives to improve energy efficiency in Council buildings and carbon reduction in Council housing stock. Reference was made to the cycling strategy and associated improvements to infrastructure. The report also cited the tree strategy which had recently been considered by Improving Places Select Commission. The Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge was cited as a key part of this year’s influence and engagement activity. The Vice-Chair reiterated the value of this event and looked forward to working with the Youth Cabinet on their recommendations.
It was noted that the Council had set an ambitious target of net zero by 2030. It was felt that this was achievable within timescales although its success would be dependent on factors outside the authority’s direct control such as technological developments.
Baseline information had been supported by the appointment of a data analyst who was a specialist in their field. The first phase had been to focus on emissions in the direct control of the Council. There was growing confidence in the accuracy of this information and this would be supplemented by national statistics, links with other councils, regional bodies and government. Information was sought on the contribution of the tree strategy to carbon dioxide capture. Questions were asked if there had been any comparison with other industries on how this information could be gathered.
Details were requested about the contribution that the cycling strategy would make to reducing carbon emissions. It was recognised that there was likely to be a small reduction of 2% to the transport element.
In respect of commercial waste recycling, information was sought how this would be rolled out and businesses incentivised to use this service. Modelling options were in development for introduction in April 2023. Recycling schemes would be rolled out in Council buildings from May 2022. A request was made that further information on commercial waste recycling and incentivising businesses were referred to Improving Places Select Commission.
Further information was sought on the potential impact of the Environmental Bill on household waste recycling. Final details were awaited however it was anticipated that there would be an expectation that food waste would be collected. It was hoped that Rotherham would be given an exemption because of its waste extraction facilities. The deposit return scheme should have a positive effect on reducing street rubbish. However, until proposals were announced it was difficult to anticipate the full impact on households, however it was thought it would be significant. These details were requested to be provided to scrutiny in due course. It was noted that work was taking place with local retailers, including market traders, to reduce packaging and waste.
Clarification was sought on the reasons the Government’s Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme, for Private Sector housing was unsuccessful. It was outlined that it was a competitive bid process however, the feedback would be used to support future bids. It was noted that housing was key to addressing climate change. It was outlined that work had been undertaken to understand the investment required to raise energy efficiency in existing council housing, focussing on the stock that had a lower rating. In new build, all homes were energy efficient, with additional measures such as electrical charging points being provided in some developments.
Details were sought on the potential location of the solar farm. A site in Kilnhurst had been identified and due diligence was in train to establish its suitability. Planning applications would be submitted should conditions be satisfied.
Clarification was sought if potential sites for tree planting would be utilised fully over the two-year funding period and if a business case was being considered to extend tree planting when the funding ends. The Strategic Director outlined that he was keen to engage with local ward members and communities to identify potential sites.
It was observed that embedding a culture of tackling climate change and making it “everyone’s business” to consider climate implications was an ongoing challenge, however the annual report outlining progress to date was welcomed.
1. That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2. That developments related to the Environment Bill and impact on the waste and recycling strategies be submitted to Improving Places Select Commission in due course.