To consider report PES/390 of the Head of Economy and Planning.
The Commission considered report PES/390 of the Head of Economy and Planning. The report sought approval for the Climate Emergency Action Plan to enable the council to reduce the carbon emissions generated by its activities in line with the commitments made in the Climate Emergency Declaration of July 2019; that is to reduce carbon emissions by at least 45% by 2030 and to zero by 2050 as recommended by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
During the discussion with the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, the Head of Economy and Planning and the Sustainability Manager, Councillors made the following comments:
· Acknowledgement that the carbon dioxide emissions reduction target was at least 45% by 2030 and zero by 2050. It was highlighted that this was a target and it was hoped to reach this prior to this date.
· It was noted that a funding plan would need to be brought forward to ensure the action plan would be fully budgeted and costed. This would build on future investigations and audits to inform the full costs of driving down emissions.
· Recognition that procurement plays a key role in carbon dioxide emissions equating to the supply chain, construction, manufacturing, goods and services.
· It was commented upon that it was a useful intention to review the essential car user policy but it was commented that it may be difficult to revise staff terms and conditions.
· Other options should be considered for improving the waste fleet, together with waste services in general. It was felt that the reduction in emissions for waste collection could be instigated by implementing food waste collection ahead of the timescales indicated in the plan and fortnightly rubbish collection.
· Acknowledgement that under provision on car parking, particularly in the town centre, was a deterrent for take up of electric vehicles as only a small percentage have off-street parking. It was noted the infrastructure was important and the EV charging network contract was in place in partnership with WSCC to install a network of charging points across the town. In addition, some petrol stations had installed EV charging points. Compressed natural gas was not an alternative as it still produced carbon dioxide and consequently its use had not fully materialised.
· It was noted that through government policy and Local Plan policy there could be significant influence on planning applications in the future to assist in achieving sustainability. Recognition that there was a balance between residents’ perception, feasibility and achieving net zero.
· Recognition that there was a need to encourage modal shift and behaviour change and the council should be leading on this and had a moral obligation. The Core Principles for Action (appendix A) stated the Carbon Emergency communications and engagement plan would engage and influence staff, councillors and externally with residents and stakeholders. However the Commission felt that further publicity would be beneficial in order to encourage the wider community and following a unanimous vote it was agreed that the Cabinet be requested to consider this additional recommendation:
Request the Cabinet complement the Climate Change Emergency Action Plan with a public educational programme.
That the Commission noted the report and requested that the views expressed during the debate, were fed back to the Cabinet through the Commission’s Comment sheet with the additional recommendation above.