Following the declaration of a climate emergency, work has been undertaken to develop a new strategy to set out the principles for action to meet targets, together with a plan setting out actions in more detail, which has been publicly consulted on.
This report sets out the feedback that has been received and the key changes proposed as a result.
Recommendation from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement
1) Note the responses to the consultation on the draft strategy and resultant amendments.
2) Recommend that Council adopt the final Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy and the 20/21 Action Plan.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement introduced the report which set out the feedback that had been received following consultation on the strategy and the key changes proposed as a result. She stated that the strategy culminated in a significant amount of work to date and would shape future work and actions. She thanked everyone who had contributed. She added that the targets set out in the climate emergency declaration were demanding and ambitious and recognised that the work undertaken to date set the framework for more actions to be developed and implemented which would require ongoing resource and commitment to achieve the targets. She highlighted the important steps that had been taken to reduce emissions such as moving electricity supply to green sources, rolling out electric vehicle charging points, the introduction of electric vehicles (EV) for the council’s parking team and that climate change was considered in all decisions and included in other strategy documents. She concluded that there was a long way to go, climate change was something that cut across all cabinet member’s portfolios and the good work already undertaken would continue to be built on.
Members of the public, Miranda Chubb and Martin Heath were invited to address Cabinet with their comments.
Miranda Chubb referred to the Climate Emergency Action Plan and was appreciative of the time and effort involved to produce the strategy and action plan. She requested that the plan be reviewed and actions refined into SMART objectives with specific targets as not all of the actions had specific, measurable targets and metrics/KPI’s to measure progress towards them. She also stated that it was not clear whether the action plan, if achieved, would result in the required 13.1% emissions reduction for the borough within the year.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement thanked the speaker for her comments. She stated that the action plan was a starting point and would be updated annually. She accepted that there were aspects of the plan that needed further development and detail which would be added over time. She added that the targets were ambitious and challenging and some of the actions required significant consideration and development. Overall progress of the plan would be monitored against targets by measuring the carbon footprint of the council as an organisation and also the borough as a whole based on the latest available data which would be reported annually. Where possible carbon emission reduction resulting from specific actions would also be measured however there were instances where it may not be possible such as the rollout of EV charging points. She added that timeframes for some actions had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and were open to reviewing actions and amending and updating the plan as necessary. She added that she welcomed engagement and suggestions for actions and were working with local organisations.
Martin Heath was pleased that climate emergency was a priority across all portfolio’s and felt that there was an opportunity to create well paid jobs, generate new revenue for the council, put Basingstoke at the vanguard of responding to the climate emergency and to make Basingstoke a better and cleaner place to live. Whilst he considered the report adequate he felt that it lacked ambition and vision and partially addressed the risks and threats but had no targets, or costed action plan. He also raised concern regarding the baseline figures used and felt that a number of different types of emissions had been excluded. He requested that the vision be reviewed with clear costed actions and responsibility for delivery.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement stated that she took on board his comments and reiterated that this was a starting point that would be continually reviewed.
The Cabinet Member for Homes and Families welcomed the report and stated that the climate emergency was a huge challenge. He highlighted the importance of working with partners and stakeholders as everyone had a part to play to address the climate emergency. He also stated that climate change needed to be reflected in the new Local Plan with pioneering new policies through planning to build new homes in a carbon neutral way, develop sustainable means of travel, improve biodiversity and help reduce social and health inequality.
Visiting Members Councillors Harvey and McCormick addressed the meeting. Councillor Harvey agreed that climate change was cross cutting and understood that the strategy was a starting point to address the climate emergency. He referred to the Green Infrastructure Strategy and how the actions of the strategy would fit with the climate change strategy. He considered that all strategies should feed into and become part of the climate change strategy and there needed to be ambition across all portfolios. Far reaching and wide consultation and engagement from all councillors was important to make the councils strategy a blueprint for others for building for the future and regeneration of existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and production.
Councillor McCormick referred to the quantities of performance metrics raised by previous speakers. Whilst appreciating this was the starting point for the strategy, he emphasised the importance of review of the document and the need to accelerate further if the bold objectives and targets were to be reached. He added that whilst it was good to have an action plan, action needed to be taken, residents would expect rapid progress and everything needed to be taken account of. He added there was a massive opportunity in terms of the emerging green economy and green tech, with Basingstoke being one of the fastest expanding tech hubs in the country. He welcomed the strategy and asked for some assurance of how it would be accelerated and how it would fit with HCC who have less ambitious targets.
Cabinet took on board the valuable comments raised.
Resolved: Note the responses to the consultation on the draft strategy and resultant amendments.
Recommendation to Council: That Council adopt the final Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy and the 20/21 Action Plan.