Members gave consideration to a report from the Policy & Strategy Officer – Environment & Sustainability, providing an update on the Climate, Environment and Sustainability Programme and delivery arrangements. He explained that Members were asked to note the progress in establishing the programme management approach and improved communication efforts, as recognised by a recent audit, and the overall progress since the strategy was adopted at Council on 28 June 2021. Members were reminded of the scale of the challenge ahead in reaching netzero C02 emissions, and as such, were asked to endorse a new decision making tool that would begin to ensure that climate, environment and sustainability considerations were properly considered and reflected in policies and projects across the council and in reports presented to Committees.
Vice Chairman Councillor T. Coulson thanked the Officer for his hard work and, as Chairman of the working group, proposed the recommendations in the report. A Member of the Committee enquired whether the ‘sustainable homes’ grant funding was the same or separate to the ‘green homes’ funding, to which it was confirmed that they were separate streams of grant funding.
There was discussion regarding provision for properties that were off the main gas-grid, with specific concern raised regarding the cost increases and carbon impact of oil-heated homes. Alternatives were recognised to be expensive with the government’s preferred approach being to better insulate properties. It was explained that part of the work undertaken was to advocate and campaign to ensure rural fuel poverty was appropriately accounted for.
The Committee heard that, in relation to making the council carbon neutral, there were alternatives that would be explored and introduced incrementally, such as moving to electric vehicles for the smaller fleet vehicles, the use of biodiesel for the large vehicles, and electric powered bin-lifts were already in use on the refuse collecting vehicles.
With widespread support for the approaches detailed in the report, and having been moved and seconded, it was unanimously
a) the proposed approach to reporting on Climate, Environment and Sustainability action plan annually in September, and associated reporting and governance mechanisms be approved; and
b) the trial of a ‘climate, environment and sustainability impact assessment (CESIA) tool’ to be applied to all reports from June 2022, to be reviewed in December 2022, in line with Paragraph 3.8 of the report; and
c) the updated Membership for the Climate, Environment and Sustainability Working Group be approved as per paragraph 4.14 of the report, to include Cllr M. Boles and Cllr J. Summers; and
d) delegated authority be granted to the Head of Policy Strategy in consultation with the Chairs of the Prosperous Communities and Corporate Policy and Resources Committees to undertake housekeeping amendments to the Strategy document, Action Plan and CESIA tool.