To consider the Task and Finish Group’s report on their work programme. Insight and Policy Manager to report.
The Committee Chair gave an address, which is attached in the appendix to these minutes.
The committee read through the report of the Head of partnership and insight. Officers were present to answer questions. The committee reviewed the year one work programme.
Cllrs Newton, Robb and Roberts are part of the task and finish group who reviewed all the initiatives and prioritised them for the programme. The focus was on the projects that were deemed to have the biggest impact. These were split into themes and priority levels. Priorities included electric pool cars for business use, the new Crowmarsh office build and operation, and low carbon new homes and retrofitting.
The report included a budget request for a dedicated climate change officer lead, on a twelve month fixed-term basis. The committee commended the task and finish group.
Theme: Council business
On the subject of electric vehicles, the committee discussed charging facilities at Milton Park. The group were informed that the proposal is to have some dedicated staff charge points, but public charge points would be in liaison with MEPC rather than a cost to the council. The committee considered that a report was required on distribution of electric car charge points per area.
Councillors discussed with officers the merits of having a carbon emissions model, following on from the baseline review. Officers explained that having a model helps inform the committee’s decision making for future plans. The model would be a one-off investment to help the committee make choices, so would not constitute being over-consultation, and would tie into ongoing consultancy fees. The model would help enable committee actions. It was agreed that preparation was needed. The budget for this item was supported.
The committee discussed Cosy Homes. Councillors would like to see more information available to the public. Under the behavioural change theme – there was a proposal of £1,000 to inform and communicate with the public, and officers were asked to include retrofit as a feature. The Super Homes programme was cited as something to replicate. An item for the task and finish group is to work on a new build and retrofit housing criteria. The committee supported in principle the production of a booklet for residents suggesting changes that could be made to different styles of housing.
A planning design guide by the Planning Policy team is being created to act as a guide for new homes. Officers explained that this would include a section on climate emergency. The project initiation document is working its way through governance and would be brought to the committee. This would be a future item for the committee to consider.
Theme: Behaviour change
The committee debated the classification of projects in the grants programme, as environmental impact now received a heavier weighting. For example, children’s playgrounds and village halls could be disadvantaged. These could score more poorly for environmental issues, despite being very much needed for social cohesion and health. It could be argued that there is environmental benefit as these facilities could prevent parents from driving their children somewhere for entertainment. A community hall could receive funding for insulation yet be denied funding for a new community facility. Some concern was expressed about grant funding moving to climate emergency from community health.
Therefore, it was agreed that the word “solely” requires removal from the paragraph on page 51, as it disadvantaged some projects. It was added that awarding any amount, no matter how small, actually was a gateway to further funding streams. Officers would review how new weighting for energy-saving criteria affects applications. This would be considered by the committee at a future meeting.
Theme: Ongoing Projects:
With reference to table 31, Park and Charge Project – the wording required changing from ‘council’ to ‘county’, for clarity that the car parks are across the county.
The Crowmarsh council office building was discussed and committee Chair stated that her opinion was that the new office should be zero carbon in its build and operations, without off-site carbon off-setting.
It was suggested that OxLEP should lead on training. It was agreed that the South Council Leader should write to OxLEP about this and request the Council consider this.
There was agreement that some key representatives should be invited to the planned staff conference, such as OxLEP. The task and finish group would consider this as part of their conference scoping work.
Chiltern Conservation Board was mentioned as an important potential partner.
Regarding planting trees, there needed to be consideration of tree type, avoidance of monoculture and the fact that maintenance is the expensive aspect. Advice sheets on tree planting and care could be useful. It was noted that town and parish councils had land availability to progress this activity. Officers would amend the wording of this project to include a planting and maintenance programme.
It was considered that activities such a tree planting had a financial implication, and cost reductions could be achieved through working with volunteer groups.
An officer for the Nature Recovery Network would likely be housed at West Oxfordshire district council, and South Oxfordshire could possibly contribute to the funding of this post as part of this project.
RECOMMENDATION: to Cabinet;
To adopt the climate emergency work programme 2020/21.
The committee Chair asked for an inclusion into the work programme - for a minimum of code four enforcement (at least for sustainable new homes) as part of the core strategy. RESOLVED: to scope an indication of the cost of this option, before the budget presentation on 30 January 2020, if possible.
Send comments to the committee Chair regarding Future Homes, who will share them with committee members.