Agenda and draft minutes

Climate and Ecological Emergencies Advisory Committee - Monday, 11 December 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: This will be a virtual, online meeting.

Contact: Candida Basilio, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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


Apologies were received from Councillors Stefan Gawrysiak, Katharine Keats-Rohan and Sam James-Lawrie.


Declaration of interests

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 





Urgent business and chair's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair.


The chair welcomed everyone to the first CEEAC meeting of the administration. There would be task and finish groups in addition to the public meetings.

Chair mentioned meeting arrangements and etiquette for those wishing to speak.



Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 295 KB

To review the minutes of the meeting held on 3 April 2023. If agreed a correct record, the chair will sign them as such.


The notes of the meeting held on 3 April 2023 were discussed and agreed to be an accurate record.

Chair mentioned People’s Plan for Nature as she had raised it at the last meeting. She added that this document would be included in the suite of documents for creating the Corporate Plan and the Climate and Nature Recovery Plan (CNRP). This was raised in the last meeting and was being taken forward.


Public participation

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




An introduction to the Reconnecting Bernwood, Otmoor and the Ray project pdf icon PDF 7 MB

An introduction to the Reconnecting Bernwood, Otmoor and the Ray project presented by Alison Offord from BBOWT.


An introduction to the Reconnecting Bernwood, Otmoor and the Ray project was presented by guest speaker Alison Offord from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT). This presentation was for noting but open to committee questions and comments, and to consider any advice for Cabinet from CEEAC.

Alison explained that the BBOWT team's role was to work beyond and between nature reserves and protected sites to create better conditions for wildlife across big landscapes.


It was explained that the current focus was on the Bernwood, Otmoor and Ray landscape and this presentation was to show plans for the area and what BBOWT was hoping to achieve in partnership with others. Committee were asked for their support and involvement going forward in addition to the ideas and input from officers. The Trust covered Wheatley, Beckley and Stanton St. John as some of the key settlements in the South Oxfordshire part of the boundary.  There's no overall designation at the landscape scale but it does have some really important protected wildlife sites and local heritage.

[LD1] There were very good areas for nature but generally quite small and fragmented, whereas there were some quite large areas that were not currently managed well for wildlife and had been influenced by historic agricultural intensification modifications of the river and drainage system and more recently the cumulative impact of a number of high-profile developments such as HS2 and other infrastructure and housing projects throughout the landscape and so this project had really come about in response to these pressures and ongoing negative trends in the key wildlife populations, which were now also threatened by climate pressures. As a result of these developments the area was highlighted as one of the priority strategic scale landscapes to focus nature recovery effort and the current boundary brought together a number of existing conservation target areas and biodiversity opportunity areas across the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire borders.


Following on from this, BBOWT was funded by Bucks Council initially to undertake a feasibility study to help bring forward nature recovery action at the landscape scale. Over the past year and a half, we've consulted with over 200 individuals from over 44 organizations to identify opportunities with broad support that would deliver for nature and people and that could be initiated within 5 years. This process had now produced a working vision for the landscape around six broad areas of action which we're now in the process of developing further and these are these six were:


 1. Setting up a farmer cluster to coordinate nature recovery across third party land and this had already been initiated so we're working with about 25 local farmers at the moment.

2. A project to enhance the river Ray and its associated habitats and flood plain meadows.

3. Increasing the connectivity of green infrastructure between the city of Oxford right through the landscape to the Upper Ray.

4. Reconnecting woodlands and improving habitat mosaics between woodlands.

5. Condition and quality of key linear habitats  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Progress report on Leisure Centre Decarbonisation pdf icon PDF 725 KB

An update report will be presented to the committee by the Leisure Facilities Team Leader, Ben Whaymand, for committee to note.


An update report was presented to the committee by the Leisure Facilities Team Leader, , for committee to note.

46.8% of council’s emissions came from leisure centres, therefore the work on decarbonisation of leisure centres was crucial. This report summarised all of the work so far on leisure centre decarbonisation.


The officer summarised the report, covering topics such as the impact of lockdown in reducing emissions for leisure, but shared use of centres (joint user agreements) including County Council for school swimming lessons etc, also emergency use during Covid, meant that there was still energy consumption. Consideration had to be given to pool and building structures at the time to ensure they weren’t damaged, which resulted in some energy consumption, but then the facilities were ready for use again and needed to be heated.

Post covid there was still some measures in place and work was done to adjust opening hours depending on usage, as well as sorting out the financial support package from Government.


Projects carried out to reduce consumption included LED lighting replacing halogen. Officers worked closely with the infrastructure and development team to draw down developers funds through Section 106 funding and Community Infrastructure Levy funding so that we could deliver those projects and use developers funds to move forward those lighting programs. Working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) officers ensured contributions were fairly apportioned as per the joint use agreements.


We had an exercise conducted which looked at the turnover of the swimming pool in the leisure industry - a lot of the time circulation pumps work at 100% during the day and then leisure operators turn them down to 50% during the day but the officer’s view at the time was who had actually calculated that this was the right percentage? The feedback received from the engineers in terms of the turnovers of those swimming pools was that we didn't need to be circulating the pumps in that amount of velocity, we only needed to turn over at 30%, so that one suggestion saved a lot of energy usage. So, centre operation as well as project delivery had helped reduce consumption of energy.


The Leisure team had been working with the Climate team and also talking to like-minded local authorities and key individuals in the industry to come up with ideas to reduce our carbon emissions in the leisure centres. A project on destratification of our leisure centres was delivered at White Horse Leisure Centre in July, to improve old buildings, their heating and ventilation systems.

Destratification fans around the pool side slowly push the air back down. Units don’t consume much energy and keep the centre warmer. This had recently been completed at Didcot Wave also, and this will be monitored to see how well it works.

We had recently recruited an external funding lead in the council who's been applying for grant fundings and we've just recently put in for the Salix phase 3 C grant funding, which was government grant funding to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.


Report on Progress with Retrofit Activities pdf icon PDF 198 KB

CEEAC members were previously asked to provide a steer on actions the councils should take to upscale the retrofitting of buildings in the district. This paper is coming to CEEAC for information and provides an update on the activities taken by the councils. Presented by Senior Climate Action Officer Jessie Fieth.


CEEAC members were previously asked to provide a steer on actions the councils should take to upscale the retrofitting of buildings in the district. Senior Climate Action Officer provided an update report and presented it to committee.


The report discussed actions that the council should take to upscale the retrofitting of buildings in the district, mostly homes but also businesses and community buildings. The Council doesn’t have direct control over this but homes were the second biggest source of carbon emissions in the district so there was a strong feeling that we should do as much as we possibly can to encourage and facilitate retrofitting. The progress made had been presented in the report within the agenda pack.



Members congratulated the officer for the work achieved. Can we publicise more in parish magazines etc, to reach groups and less heard voices such as those in fuel poverty – stretch our reach further? Officer encouraged members to signpost people as well to help. Chair referred back to the Joint Scrutiny Committee task and finish report on retrofit that was written, and said she was glad to see these recommendations taking effect.

On planning advice, chair suggested being proactive, by replying to applications with “have you considered retrofit…” at that point, it was more direct than putting the information on the website.


It was questioned whether we can monitor the number of retrofit homes, but the officer explained that so far a solution had not been found, but this was being considered by officers already. A member mentioned Project Red as a contact group regarding prioritisation of retrofitting.


It was noted that we had a dedicated communications officer, Lucy Billen, and there would be feedback to Lucy about the communications to widen our reach.



Committee noted the update report.



Update from the Climate and Biodiversity Team pdf icon PDF 353 KB

An update from the Climate and Biodiversity Team will be given by the Climate Biodiversity Team Leader, Dominic Lamb.



As the Cabinet Member was on leave, Climate and Biodiversity Team Leader gave a brief update.


  • A climate impact tool was developed so that officers can see climate impact of council decisions across council teams. It will be used in corporate decision making and will be rolled out as a six-month trial at first and then will be formally factored into reporting as standard.
  • In October the annual Greenhouse Gas report was published. Work is currently underway to assess progress against our climate targets using projections of future emissions.
  • In 2022, an application was submitted to DEFRA for bathing water status in Wallingford, which was unsuccessful. This October another application was submitted, with help from charity Thames 21. Officers believe that we now meet the criteria which DEFRA has published. Result expected in March 2024.
  • UK100: Cllr Cooper previously suggested we become members. South will need to go through the same process Vale did. This involves motioning at Full Council to join. Chair will follow up on this.


The Climate and Biodiversity Team Leader shared a short presentation with updates on; Task and Finish groups, the Environment Act, and Climate Action Scorecards – the presentation is attached to the minutes.


  • A member asked about Net Zero task and finish – officer confirmed that net zero would form part of the greenhouse gases target projections work and will inform the development of the Climate and Nature Recovery Plan.
  • A member asked whether we can discuss  biodiversity net gain in a Task and Finish Group. Can we better protect what’s already there in terms of biodiversity – e.g mitigation such as green bridges. Officer responded that members would be involved in the Joint Local Plan all member briefings because of the wide level of interest.
  • Legacy wildlife infrastructure: hedgerows, filled in ditches – potential to help connectivity in the urban environment and reinstate features based on local knowledge.
  • A member asked if connectivity of habitats can be considered along with  biodiversity net gain (Environment Act item) – officer responded yes, this could be considered for the Climate and Nature Recovery Plan.
  • Joint Local Plan includes hooks to the future Nature Recovery Strategy. This will be strengthened once the strategy was finalised. The timescales were slightly misaligned.
  • Climate Action Scorecards – the council achieved 35% against the national average of 29%. The council were 17th out of 153 district councils.


The team leader was thanked for the update.




Draft Climate Action Plan Q2 Performance report pdf icon PDF 6 MB

The report is provided for information and for member’s questions.


A member suggested that in the RAG column we could use a letter rather than using colour, to save on the print.

A member asked about Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) in finance investment, and ethical procurement (green procurement and supply chains). Were these potential future items / task and finish groups.


The committee noted the Q2 report.


Future agenda items

For committee members to suggest topics for the future consideration of the committee.


The next formal meeting is on 10 June 2024. Potential items coming are:


Draft Climate and Nature Recovery Action Plan

Oxfordshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy

Local Area Energy Planning – local heat networks/market towns

Green finance

Berinsfield Community Energy