Agenda item

Options for the Future and next steps

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


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 contained in the agreed themes be pursued, with a council strategic response being defined in each case;


Theme 1, Council Business

Theme 2, Partnership

Theme 3, Housing

Theme 4, Infrastructure

Theme 5, Transport

Theme 6, Biodiversity

Theme 7, Behaviour Change


Points of amendment:


Theme 1, additional point of action; for the CEAC to be a ‘paperless committee’.


Theme 1, additional point of action; for the CEAC to seek to have ‘quick wins’ item on the agenda for future meetings.


Theme 1, additional point of action; Council reporting templates to include climate impacts section.


Theme 1, 21.g, remove ‘offsetting with community benefit’ therefore option is revised to: ‘Support community-led initiatives which address climate change and invest in the energy efficiency of community buildings, for example through the grants programme’.


Theme 3, 23.a, addition of ‘at a minimum’ therefore option is revised to: Policy; monitor the national policy position in respect of energy standards for new homes to ensure that the Local Plan reflects the latest national policy at a minimum".


Theme 4 – Infrastructure: 24.b, Committee members articulated a preference for this point to be stronger and more emphasis placed on reviewing opportunities for renewable energy.


Theme 4, 24.c addition of ‘maintenance of charging infrastructure’ therefore option is revised to: Oxfordshire Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy; deliver and maintain charging infrastructure to support transition to electric vehicles. 


Theme 4, additional point of action for ‘harmonisation of electric charging suppliers and payment options in respect of electric vehicle infrastructure’.


Theme 5 – Transport: Additional point of action to review Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council’s Connecting Oxford proposal.


Theme 6, 26.a, change ‘10-15%’ to ‘substantial’, therefore option is revised to: ‘Require all new developments to deliver a substantial net gain in biodiversity through new local plan policy.’


Theme 6, 26.e to be amended to include ‘spend at least 5% of CIL receipts on supporting Biodiversity/Green Infrastructure projects.’


Theme 6 additional point of action; for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Policy to be reviewed at future CEAC meeting.


Theme 7 – Behaviour Change: Additional point of action to implement an external internet page on the subject of the climate emergency.


Theme 7 27.ciii addition of ‘new enterprises’, therefore option is revised to ‘Encourage new, low-carbon enterprises business into the area, identifying incentives for them to locate locally’.


Theme 7 additional point of action; ‘Exploration of questions in respect of climate change and action being embedded within residents’ survey’.


Theme 7 additional point of action; Mapping exercise to be completed on the local climate action groups, including youth groups.


Theme 7 additional point of action; ‘link with Public Health to share public health messages in respect of the benefits of leading a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle’.


(c) Committee be authorised to support the commissioning of expertise where necessary to define and validate the Council’s and District’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide and equivalent (CO2e) emissions baselines, and to fully explore, evaluate and cost proposed work programme options. The cost of this scoping exercise should be met within 19/20 existing budget, any increased expenditure outside of the remaining 19/20 budget will be subject to approval as set out in the council’s financial procedures.


(d) Committee be authorised to approve commencement of a communications plan, to include engagement with members and officers, residents, community groups and businesses into routine communications by the district councils and the exploration of a Resident Advisory Group. Additional incorporation of a strong social media link.


(e) Committee be authorised to establish a task and finish group to work with officers on putting forward work programme proposals for further evaluation and costing, this will include assisting with building the programme proposals into a coherent strategy and presenting options back to the committee. This will enable the committee to prioritise and recommend to Cabinet their implementation.


(f) In addition to scoring points for energy efficiency/renewable technologies, the Committee recommends that the Capital Grants Scheme sets minimum standards for relevant projects and that grants are only offered to applicants that meet these standards. The Committee also recommends that ambitious minimum standards are announced for implementation at a future date to be agreed. This date should align with the timescale of the Council’s commitment to meet these standards for its own developments.


(g) Recommend that the Council commences work with parish councils and charities to plant trees, under ecological supervision, on margins of recreation grounds, verges and commons.


(h) Recommend that a conference is held for officers and members on the subject of climate change.


(i) Committee voted to pass motion ‘the committee does not believe that sufficient weight is given in LP 2034 to responding to the climate and ecological crisis that we face’.


(j) Recommend the Creation of a Supplementary Planning Document to provide additional guidance on mitigating impact on the climate within developments expanding on Policy CSQ2 of the adopted Core Strategy or prepare a Supplementary Planning Document expanding on policies INF4, TRANS5, DES1, DES8, DES10 of the submission Local Plan 2034.


(k) Committee recommend implementation of planning enforcement standards.


Supporting documents: