To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery, (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery updating Members on the Council’s annual Climate Action Plan for 2023 / 24.
Members were reminded that following the Council declaring a Climate Emergency in February 2021 a Climate Action Strategy (CAS) had been adopted (December 2021) and contained 60 actions along with five pledges which were outlined in the report. In addition, the Council had committed to producing an annual Climate Action Plan (CAP) and Appendix 1 to the report set out the CAP for 2023 / 24 identifying each of the priority actions aligned to each of the CAS Pledges. The CAP would inform, help enable and update the Maldon District community about the Council’s work on the climate emergency.
The Committee congratulated and thanked the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager and her team for the report and work undertaken.
A lengthy debate ensued, during which a number of questions were raised and to which the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager provided detailed responses including:
· The CAP related to the next 12 months and would be an annual Plan delivering against what the Council was hoping to achieve over that period. However, in addition to the short-term actions identified Officers had included details of medium- and long-term actions.
· Training had been provided to staff and Members and a number of changes to current procedures within the Council had been amended to ensure consideration was always given to the CAS.
· The Officer outlined the budget approved in relation to the CAP and how these monies provided an Officer resource as well as enabling the Council to work with community groups and partners to engage and promote the work. The CAP set out those organisations the Council was working with to progress not only the work of the CAS but also ensure that the District received any funding allocated and was included in the roll out of any wider initiatives.
· The Strategy Theme Lead worked with national cycle paths to ensure there was connectivity across the district and beyond. The Council was working with Essex County Council (ECC) in its work to create a Strategic Transport Strategy. Emissions along with 20 mile per hour zones would feed into this work and marking of cycle paths on roads had been highlighted by Officers but likely to be on a scheme-by-scheme basis.
· The Director of Service Delivery confirmed that the Council’s Countryside and Coast Officer had started this week and one of their objectives would be to deliver against the CAP as well as completing other work such as the Green Infrastructure Strategy.
· The Council was working with housing partners to ensure they had a decarbonisation plan, applying for decarbonisation funds and were improving the fabric of their housing stock both in terms of making housing sound but also sustainable in the future. In respect of retrofitting, the Council was expecting the providers to have clear plans as to how this would be done. In addition, work with ECC to ensure skills and training for such work to be done locally was ongoing.
· Although the Council was not promoting veganism, it was providing residents with a choice and the skills to be involved in different initiatives along with community projects, such as grow your own, to give better health outcomes. This work was carried out through the Council’s health and wellbeing work and One Maldon ensuring that any climate action fed into such initiatives.
In addition to the additional information provided by the Officer, a number of other comments were raised by Members, these included:
· Encouraging Parish Councils to access free initiatives which were available from ECC.
· With regards to procurement the Council should be encouraging contractors to use biofuels or other greener options and looking at how they are going to operate.
· Air quality, specifically in relation to Market Hill, Maldon and Latchingdon should be addressed.
· The Council should look to introduce a policy to encourage people to have electric or dual fuel cars and install car chargers.
· Concern regarding how some statements within the CAP may conflict with other Council policies and the Medium-Term Financial Strategy.
· The Council should prosecute people who drop litter, fly tip etc.
· Consideration should be given to removing co-mingled waste collections for apartment blocks.
· Farmers had recently lost European Union (EU) Grants and it was questioned whether they would sign up to sustainable farming without further support and investment. Although noted that a large number were environmentally friendly. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should be in charge of the use of chemicals, particularly in relation to sustainable farming.
· In respect of pledging less waste, it was noted Maldon was the best Local Authority for waste collection in Essex.
· Rather than deterring car use in Maldon Town Centre, the Council should look at ways of encouraging low emission cars into Council Car parks.
· The Plan should be outcome based and have local Maldon outcomes not necessarily Essex wide ones.
The Chairman proposed an amendment to the recommendation, that all the thoughts and responses from this Committee were built into the quarterly performance report. This was duly seconded and agreed.
(i) that the Council’s annual Climate Change Action Plan (CAP) for 2023 / 24 be noted;
(ii) that the CAP be monitored quarterly via quarterly performance reports to the Performance, Governance and Audit Committee and these reports include the thoughts and comments raised at this meeting by the Strategy and Resources Committee.