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Agenda item

Agenda item

Carbon Reduction Programme Annual Report

To consider the progress against year three of carbon reduction action plan and to approve the year four action plan. 

Subject To Call In::1. No - Item to note. 2. Yes - No action to be taken prior to the expiry of the call-in period.

Decision:

1.     That the progress achieved against year three of the carbon reduction action place be NOTED

2.     That the Year Four action plan be APPROVED.

Minutes:

32.1          The report of the Head of Service: Asset Management, circulated at Pages No, 31-60, sought to update Members on the progress achieved against year three of the carbon reduction action plan and asked the Committee to approve the recommended year four action plan.

32.2          The Lead Member for Clean and Green Environment advised that, following the declaration of a climate emergency in October 2019, Officers and Members of the Climate Change and Flood Risk Management Group undertook a baseline audit of the Council’s carbon consumption.  The report, along with an overarching action plan, was presented to Council in June 2020 and was now in its third year.  Following a further motion to Council in May 2023 which had extended the declaration boroughwide and expanded it to include the ecological emergency, Officers had been working on additional reporting to incorporate the new motion into the plan; this had included looking further at baseline data.  One outcome was that some data had initially been misreported.  In some areas, including the Roses Theatre, this had meant that the numbers were lower than hoped but, by making sure the baseline was accurate throughout, Members could look forward to future annual reports producing accurate and positive figures.  Whilst the current report showed that small savings had been made regarding the Council’s carbon footprint, it was important to remember this was a transitional stage due to the new climate change motion and the return to ‘normal’ following the COVID pandemic.  Several achievements from the third year plan were highlighted in the report including over £140,000 in external funding for areas such as electric vehicle charging points, the installation of the solar canopy and grant funding for an air source heat pump, along with winning awards such as Council of the year in the Southwest Energy Efficiency Awards.  Moving forward, the fourth year of the plan would be monitored by the Climate Change and Ecology Management Group with specific projects also monitored by the Programme Board and relevant Lead Members.

32.3           A Member noted that Page No. 44 of the report highlighted an important point in that it would not be easy to work out the carbon footprint from remote working; for instance, some people who worked from home would also have a partner or spouse working from home and therefore the heating and lights would already be on which would be completely different for someone living alone, some people would be happy to wear lots of layers rather than putting their heating on, there would be different size homes which would be insulated differently etc.  She expressed the view that more technology could be used in the Public Services Centre, such as solar chargers for laptops and telephones which were inexpensive but would contribute to carbon savings and she asked if that could be considered.  She had asked for the report to reflect the fact that not all Councillors claimed mileage for travel and she questioned how many did claim.  The Carbon Reduction Programme Officer felt the point about working from home and how that was calculated was a valid one and a lot of assumptions had been made in relation to that.  There had been greater transition to hybrid working this year and that needed to be reflected but it had not been possible to take account the reduction in commuting miles – this was something Officers would look to do going forward along with additional technology.  He undertook to provide the percentage of Councillors who claimed mileage following the meeting.  A Member suggested it might be an option for Members to submit their mileage without making a claim; he did not claim mileage and was happy for his carbon footprint to be logged.  The Executive Director: Resources confirmed that Officers could look at current records and explore the introduction of a system to capture mileage which was not claimed for.

32.4           With regard to planting trees, a Member asked if a record was kept of how many died as she was aware that a lot were failing – it was not about the amount which were planted but how many stayed alive.  She pointed out that Oak trees captured more carbon when they were mature so it was also necessary to consider the type of trees being planted.  Another Member recognised that the Director: Communities and his team had done a lot of work on tree planting and green spaces and he understood that two trees were planted for every one that died; however, he accepted that the size and age of trees was important in terms of carbon reduction - losing a 100 year old tree and replacing it with two saplings was not like for like.  The Head of Service: Asset Management advised that it was intended to bring forward a tree planting policy which would cover the management of the trees and place emphasis on community responsibility in terms of making them assets of value, with reference to canopy cover rather than a number of trees. The authority worked closely with Parish Councils, some of which had very good policies regarding the planting of trees, and joint working would be a key part of the policy which would be brought to the Council, hopefully within the current financial year.

32.5           A Member welcomed the funding for electric vehicle charging points and noted that Page No. 57 of the report set a target date of 30 June 2024; he asked if there was a reason the money was not being spent until then.  The Head of Service: Asset Management advised that the Council would need to go out to the market for providers but there was a lot to get to grips with prior to that, for instance, the location of the charging points was governed by the District Network Operators and, whilst Officers might have an idea of where charging points should be located, there may be restrictions to prevent that.  Market research was currently being undertaken with a view to installation taking place in March 2024; if it could be done more quickly then it would be.

35.6           It was proposed, seconded and

Action By:EDR

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