To receive a presentation on the Council’s Annual Climate Change Strategy.
The Advisory Panel received a presentation from Kevin Gibbs, Executive Director: Delivery, on the Council’s Annual Climate Change Strategy Q1 and Q2 2022/23.
The first annual report on progress had been produced, this was a comprehensive report and sat along side the Climate Change Strategy on the website. This would be produced annually.
Key findings within the report was that the Council’s CO2e emissions continued to drop year on year and within Bracknell Forest Borough there had been a 41.5% reduction since monitoring had begun in 2005 by Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department data (BEIS).
At the 9 March 2023 meeting Corporate Property would be providing an update on the £1M retrofit projects and there would be a Programme plan end of Q3 update.
From June 2023 the forward plan for the Climate Change Advisory Panel consisted of the below, but items would be added and updated as required.
· London Road (EV charging hub).
· Member feedback on the visits to Oxford City EV SuperHub and Basildon EV
· BFC Programme plan end of Q4 update report.
· Review draft of the Climate Change Strategy progress summary.
· End of NMT placement update.
· Climate Emergency Action Scorecards update.
Across the Council a number of teams were supporting Climate Change projects:
Public Health funding was supporting a number of climate change programmes.
Projects include the Eco Rewards Behaviour Change Incentive Scheme (encouraging active modes of travel), Green and Active Heroes (engaging volunteers in outdoor biodiversity / green space activities); Improving Air Quality (funding monitoring equipment and resources); and reducing the impacts of poor housing.
Business engagement had begun by the Climate Change team by signposting support for local businesses interested in starting their own climate change mitigation journey.
An Energy Group had been set up by Officer’s responsible for managing council facilities to specifically look at projects aimed at reducing levels of utility consumption and further lowering the Councils carbon footprint. The group had already met a couple of times.
A feasibility study has been completed for the creation of an EV charging hub with supporting dwell-time facilities and renewable power generation and storage via a solarPV farm and battery cells at London Road (Strong’s Heath) site. The work on this was continuing with hope that a planning application would come forward in due course.
As of June 2022 all Local Authorities had adopted updated Building Regulations (part S) which now included the mandatory provision of EV charging points on all new residential developments.
Once adopted the new Local Plan would tighten the expectations placed upon developers (both residential and commercial) with regard to the provision of on-site renewable generation and overall energy efficiency.
The new draft housing strategy would include the Council’s ambitions to ensure that homes within the borough are as energy efficient as possible. This would include working with partners such as Silva Homes who will be bidding for Social Housing Decarbonisation Funding in Q3 to enable their own efforts to retrofit their housing stock.
The Advisory Panel was reminded that Strategy was supported by an Action Plan covering the full breadth of council services and that there were currently 45 live projects. These were reported on quarterly via an Internal Officer Board which was Chaired by Damian James and then oversight given to the Climate Change Advisory Panel.
Projects across the Council included Wildflower Biodiversity, Green and Active Heroes, the launch of the My Journey App, Community EV charging hubs, Love to Ride, new EV Pool cars added to the Council’s fleet, reducing the carbon footprint of highway maintenance, Greening our Waste / improving our recycling, Domestic Energy Efficiency, Schools’ Climate Change Conference and the Green Giants Festival.
The Comms Team had also been working hard with18 climate change related stories issued between April and September 2022. There had also been a Councillors’ Climate Change newsletter launched and a regular climate change stories slot secured in Town and Country. The team were currently developing behavioural tips and tricks for residents.
Sebastian Wright, who was one of the National Graduate Trainees, on the National Graduate Development Programme, attended the Advisory Panel to provide an update on the work he was undertaking on his placement in the Climate Change team which ran until the end of March 2023.
There were 3 key elements being undertaken by Sebastian during his placement.
· Emissions trajectory work
· Parish and town council engagement
· Climate change business strategy and event
Sebastian explained how emissions were measured and tracked, these were:
· Scope 1 (direct emissions)
· Scope 2 (electricity)
· Scope 3 – but only emissions linked to water use.
Scopes 1 and 2 were measured and reported by the Council, but Scope 3 was currently unreported, except for water. These were Likely to be a significant element of the Councils emissions and there was likely to be increasing pressure to report this in future. However, this was much harder to measure and project but during the placement it was going to be investigated how this could or might be done.
Sebastian was also working on a project to project future emissions and estimate how emission may change in the future under different scenarios an providing options for interim targets. It was likely that there could be a number of emissions that may not be able to be mitigated by the 2050 target, and therefore there may be a need to look at how those could be offset.
Engagement had been undertaken with the Town and Parish Councils to build better relationships with Town and Parish councils around climate change and to help the Town and Parish councils to measure their scope 1 and 2 emissions, facilitate co-operation between Town and Parish councils on climate change and to share best practice and identify other opportunities for collaboration.
As a result of the 2021 business survey, it had been highlighted that very few businesses had committed to a date to become net zero. 2022 survey results were expected in February 2023, which included further questions to gauge the scale of Climate Change engagement by local businesses. However, the team were aware that businesses were under a lot of existing pressures due to the current economic pressures. Sebastian aimed to create a strategy for business engagement support and to run a business climate event post the May elections to work more closely with key partners.
As a result of the groups comments and questions, the following points were made:
· There were set standards and procedures for measuring which had been provide to Town and Parish Councils. But there was a degree of variation from company to company.
· There were several issues around emissions from ships, this was not something being looked at directly by the team.
· The decrease in emissions was due to the decrease in electricity being used alongside some of the electricity in the grid being greener. This was the council’s data use not the Boroughs emissions.
· The language around the Council and the Borough emissions would be looked at to avoid confusion and made clearer.
· Work was being undertaken with a number of housing associations; it was important that this be highlighted.
· The closest working relationship was with SILVA Homes.
· Crowthorne Parish Council had climate change within its 3-year strategy, and Sebastian had met with Liz in Crowthorne, and they had taken up the offer to help with measuring emissions.
· The Public Protection Partnership had received funding to measure air quality in sensitive spots across the Borough. With data expected in the following months. Posters and leaflets regarding idling would be appearing in the coming weeks.
· A bumper sticker competition had been run in schools.
· The Green Homes Grant from the government had been successful the first time, but not the second time. A Berkshire wide bid had been successful with £80k received and homes had been identified, which had meant 12 homes had received retrospective work. Outcome data was still being awaited. The third bid had finally been successful, as part of a Berkshire wide bid in the Autumn, which had meant some rapid work up until Christmas to identify suitable housing for retrofitting. Those houses had been handed over to the contractor with work current being undertaken.
· A Home Upgrade Grant had been applied for, for off gas grid housing, and Bracknell had applied as part of a Berkshire Wide bid. The outcome for this grant was still pending.
· The heating within the Councils building had been reduced but being mindful of the regulations. The lighting grid had also been slightly decreased.
· It was likely that due to the economic issues that 2022 winters emissions will be lower.
· Idling action could be enforced if required.
· Idling issues could be combated by children walking to school.
· It was discussed that schools could be invited to participate in the Advisory Panel in the future.
· The Council would love to see more bumble bee signs around the Borough.
The Chair thanked Officers and Members for their presentations and contributions.