Agenda and draft minutes

Climate Emergency Advisory Committee
Thursday, 19 September 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot, OX11 7NE

Contact: Paul Bateman, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Vice-chair

To appoint a vice chairman of the committee.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a proposal to appoint a Vice-Chair.

 

A motion moved and seconded, to appoint Sam Casey-Rerhaye as Vice Chair was declared carried on being put to the vote.

 

RESOLVED; Sam Casey-Rerhaye be elected as Vice-Chair of the Committee for the ensuing year.

2.

Chairman's announcements

To receive any announcements from the chairman and general housekeeping matters.

Minutes:

Sue Cooper arrived partway through this item and took no part in the discussion.

 

Chair’s Inaugural Statement

 

The Chair addressed the Committee and the public who were present. The full text of her statement was;

 

‘Globally, we have 11 years to turn around our carbon emissions. Other local councils have responded by setting targets for their districts and cities to reach carbon zero by 2030, some even earlier. Climate breakdown is already upon us, with catastrophic events occurring daily, from Hurricane Dorian wreaking havoc in the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago leaving 50 dead and 70,000 homeless, to biblical floods in Northern Spain this week. The desertification of Mediterranean countries is underway, and hostile new natural environments are driving millions of people from their homelands.

 

Since Margaret Thatcher gave her speech on the dangers of global warming to the UN Assembly 30 years ago, we have emitted more carbon dioxide that we had emitted in the whole of human history before then. Do we then, in the next 30 years anticipate the breaking down of human civilisation?

 

It is not only our species that is affected. We are a part of nature, and nature is in crisis. Ours is amongst the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and outside of London, Oxfordshire is the worst in the South East of England. The older ones of us will remember the dawn chorus, a cacophony of sound replaced now by a soloist wood pigeon. We remember the roads littered with squashed hedgehogs, and rabbits cavorting in fields. All gone. We remember road visibility quickly diminishing as our car-windscreens covered up with the tiny corpses of thousands of insects. Not now.

 

We are in crisis. So what should we be doing?

 

Tonight we shall set a target for carbon-neutrality. We should hold this very clearly in our minds and then embark on the seismic shift to get there. We must change our Local Plan to ensure that every home built and all new settlements are carbon zero. We need to set our sights on a radically different district with people working near their homes to reduce commuting, and  walking, cycling or taking fast transit to wherever they want to go, without needing a private car. We want to see our landscape refilled with an abundance of diverse animals and plants.

 

For this, we will need people in our council: planners, administrators and communicators to advise our citizens and lobby higher authorities. Tonight, we will consider setting up officer project groups to work with ‘task and finish’ councillor groups. We want to work interactively with all levels of society to embed climate action into our normal lives. We need citizens to engage with us and shall consider setting up a Residents’ Panel.

 

The District Council has a vital function in co-ordinating work across society. Council staff have done a terrific job putting this report together showing what actions are already underway and what actions can be built upon. We will review these for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence and the attendance of substitute members.

Minutes:

Sarah Gray, Kate Gregory and Simon Hewerdine tendered apologies.

4.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.

Minutes:

David Rouane declared that he was Chair of 10:10 Climate Action.

 

Sue Roberts declared that she was Co-Ordinator of South Oxfordshire Sustainability.

5.

Urgent business

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent.

Minutes:

Lynn Lloyd, Caroline Newton and Ian White arrived partway through this item and took no part in the discussion.

 

The Chair reported that Cabinet would shortly be reviewing a revised Capital Grants Policy. The Committee were eager to have an input to this process, to ensure that minimum levels of sustainability and energy efficiency were incorporated into the evaluation system. They were particularly interested in stipulating zero carbon for all new building projects and extensions, in line with targets selected by the Committee in the meeting for recommendation to Cabinet. The Committee were prepared to make a recommendation to Cabinet in respect of a revised Capital Grants Policy.

 

The Chair urged the committee to make timely comments to the appropriate Cabinet member, Maggie Filipova-Rivers.

 

Celia Wilson referred to section 23.b) of the Options and Next Steps report (item 7), and to effect immediate progress, enquired about drafting a motion to council, regarding the draft emerging Local Plan 2034 and the need for planning policy to fully take into account the minimisation of carbon. The Acting Deputy Chief Executive advised that the role of the Committee is to make its views known to Cabinet, rather than via a motion to Full Council.

6.

Public Participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.

Minutes:

Alexandrine Kantor arrived partway through this item and took no part in the discussion.

 

The Committee heard a number of public speakers who had registered to address them;

 

Stewart Lilly – use of plastics by councils and the NHS

 

Grant Norton – energy usage and sustainable systems

 

Amber Chainey – sustainability in building developments and the need for local organisations to work together on climate change. 

 

Jules Stevenson – urged council to aim for the highest standard and select Option 3.

 

7.

Options for the Future and next steps pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To consider a report by the Insight and Policy Manager which covers the following issues;

 

·         Possible target option recommendations to the Cabinet

·         to review climate emergency work programme proposals, including further exploration where required

·         the commissioning of expertise to define and validate energy consumption in the council and district

·         establishing a communications plan

·         commissioning work by officers

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Partnership and Insight, which set out the options for recommendations that the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee (CEAC) could make to Cabinet in response to the climate emergency declaration.

 

The Committee noted that all other Oxfordshire Councils had declared or acknowledged a Climate Emergency and were yet to declare specific actions to achieve targets or publish work programmes. A Climate Emergency was declared by the South Oxfordshire District Council on 11 April 2019. At the present time, 212 councils across the United Kingdom had declared Climate Emergencies, equating to 52 per cent of principal authorities. 86 district councils had declared a climate emergency. 56 of these (65 per cent) explicitly pledged to become carbon neutral on council operations.

 

The report outlined options for an early carbon neutral target, ranging from pledging to be a Carbon-Neutral Council, to aspiring to be a Carbon-Neutral District. There was also a middle option to achieve carbon neutrality, which has been named Carbon Neutral Council ‘Plus+’. The report set out the benefits and risks of each option. To achieve the desired target, a programme of work to explore seven themes was proposed. Options for specific topics would be subject to further evaluation and costing before being included in any final work programme.

 

The Committee were asked to consider recommending whether South Oxfordshire DC should consider a range of ideas for how realistically to achieve any target that was set. Strategies could include: integrating climate emergency action into existing work streams, working closely with outside partners to deliver on key initiatives, scoping important projects well enough to seek outside funding for them and eliminating existing programmes to redirect staffing and funding to climate emergency work. Elimination of existing programmes would need to consider that some core services were mandatory and that there were funding limitations.

 

The work programme proposals were grouped under seven themes of council business, partnership, housing, infrastructure, transport, biodiversity and behaviour change. This was informed by an informal CEAC workshop held 12 August 2019, attended by CEAC councillors, or by officers engaged in the development of the report. The Committee were asked to consider defining the elements of a strategic response in respect of the following themes. Each Theme contained a sub-set of practical activities and initiatives to meet the objectives.

 

A motion moved and seconded, to recommend to cabinet proposals to tackle the climate emergency was declared carried on being put to the vote.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to recommend to Cabinet;

 

(a) Recommend Target Option Three; South Oxfordshire to become a carbon neutral council by 2025 and a carbon neutral district by 2030. This to be an overarching goal for the Council in respect of adopting an early carbon neutral target as outlined in the Council motion put forward on 11 April 2019.

 

(b) The Committee be authorised to review the Climate Emergency Work Programme proposals for further exploration, full evaluation and costing. The Committee agreed to recommend that the activities and actions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Scene-Setting and Background pdf icon PDF 424 KB

To consider the report by the Insight and Policy Manager, which is a supporting document/appendix to the report ‘Climate Emergency: Options and Next Steps’ (Item 7).

 

The appendix deals with the following;

 

·         The national and international context

·         South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) history of activity up until December 2018

·         Current projects January 2019 to date

·         ‘Business as usual’ regarding council activity to reduce energy usage and carbon dioxide and equivalent (CO2e) emissions

Minutes:

The committee received a report which set the scene and background

 

The committee noted the report and adopted it as a supporting document to the report ‘Climate Emergency: Options and Next Steps.’

9.

Terms of Reference of the Committee

To note that the Committee’s Terms of Reference will be reviewed as part of the wider constitutional review work being undertaken in Autumn 2019.

Minutes:

The Chair reported that in the Autumn the Council would be undertaking a Constitutional review, to which she would input. She hoped to enhance the power and role of the committee through amended terms of reference.,

10.

Recommendations to Cabinet

The committee are requested to consider the form and content of recommendations for action to the Cabinet, in respect of targets for adoption.

Minutes:

Contained in item 7, above.

11.

Exclusion of the public

To consider whether to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following item of business under Part 1 of Schedule 12A Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:

(i) it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and (ii) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for following item of business Part 1 of Schedule 12A 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:

 

(i)            It involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and (ii) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing this information;

 

Crowmarsh Council Offices Project – Sustainability Options

 

12.

Crowmarsh Council Offices Project - Sustainability Options

To consider a report on sustainability options for the Crowmarsh project for the new council buildings.

 

Minutes:

The committee considered a report on sustainability options for the Crowmarsh project for the new council buildings.

 

A motion moved and seconded, to note the latest situation, and to recommend to cabinet sustainability proposals for the new council buildings, was declared carried on being put to the vote.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to make recommendations to Cabinet.

 

Part way through the consideration of this application, members took a vote just before the meeting guillotine of 8:30pm to continue the item they were on.