Agenda item

Climate Change Action Plan


David Haygarth, Climate Action Manager, presented the Climate Change Action Plan which had been presented to Cabinet in March. The Committee was invited to comment on the Action Plan prior to it going back to Cabinet in July 2021.


The Committee heard that a Climate Change Action Plan was essential given the world’s changing climate and weather patterns. The plan had a focus on community leadership and leading by example – it aimed to inspire residents to reduce their omissions and supported other objectives such as air quality, fuel poverty and preventing flooding. 


Members heard that the Council aimed to be carbon neutral by 2030. It planned to achieve clean energy via the use of wind turbines, solar energy and energy supplied by the local and national grid. The use of fossil fuel would be reduced in the future. The aim would be to purchase green energy when possible and, if not achievable, to consider carbon offsetting.


Members were informed that the plan set out seven themes of focus and outline targets to achieve the goal of becoming carbon neutral – Community Leadership, The Council’s Own Operations, Building better places, Using Clean and Green Energy, Waste Management, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Carbon Offsetting. In terms of the latter, measures would be put in place to compensate for carbon emissions which could not be avoided in the short-term e.g. tree planting.


It was confirmed that the draft plan would be subject to a public consultation period – an online survey would be released on 29 March 2021 and webinars were planned together with direct emailing to interested parties. It was hoped that people would be engaged and involved in shaping the plan.


Members enquired whether the aim to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 was realistic. It was confirmed that this was deemed to be an achievable target but would need to be reviewed nearer the time. The Council had already made significant progress over the last ten years in reducing carbon emissions and switching to green energy. It was anticipated that the residual amount would be reduced further over the next ten years to arrive at a figure which would need to be offset.


The Committee requested clarification as to how savings to date had been achieved and enquired whether the Council could do more in the future to reduce the residual figure further. Members were advised that the Council had committed to the first climate change strategy and had introduced a number of activities to reduce its carbon footprint including the installation of lower energy LED street lighting, more efficient boilers and the purchase of green energy. It was also noted that the UK power network had de-carbonised substantially in recent years. It was anticipated that the residual figure to offset carbon would be reduced significantly over the next 5-8 years and, if the Council continued to purchase green energy, would be relatively low by 2030.


In response to their enquiries, Members were informed that a lot of work had been done to move from petrol to hybrid / electric vehicles. Approximately 50 hybrid / electric vehicles had been purchased in 2020 and more than 50 would be purchased in 2021. It was not yet possible to purchase electric dustcarts but the situation could change in the future as they were being trialled in other local authorities. It was confirmed that any diesel vehicles were of a high Euro 6 standard which drove down their emissions. It was anticipated that carbon offsetting in respect of vehicle emissions would be much lower by 2030. Moreover, it was hoped that the use of fossil fuel for heating would be reduced too.


In response to further questioning from the Committee, it was confirmed that carbon offsetting was becoming more commercialised – rather like a futures market which could be traded on with carbon allowances being bought and sold. Members heard that, in terms of its own housing stock, the Council would use the most efficient form of heating and insulation to improve the thermo efficiency of local authority buildings.


Councillors requested further clarification regarding other innovations which could be used in place of tree planting. It was noted that tree planting could at times negatively impact on nature, wildlife and the water table. Members heard that officers were attempting to develop a strategy around this. Solar farms, renewable power projects and other alternatives were being considered. It was confirmed that the Climate Action Manager would investigate this further and report back to the Committee via Democratic Services.


Further information was sought in relation to point C2.6 on page 37 of the agenda pack which stated that “The procurement of all new Council equipment and services will be measured against the objectives of this strategic plan”. The Committee was advised that this related to goods and services purchased by the Council. In respect of this, Members commented that the pre-requisites should be written into all contracts. It was agreed that the Climate Action Manager would follow this up with procurement colleagues to ascertain what the long-term plan was and would report back to the Committee via Democratic Services. At the request of Members, it was also agreed that the Climate Action Manager would establish the amount of paper currently used within the Council and how this could be reduced.


The Climate Action Manager informed the Committee that the local authority aimed to assume a leadership role in the reduction of carbon emissions. There was a lot of work to do to collect the thoughts of all interested parties and ensure they were co-ordinated in the plan. 


In response to further questioning, it was confirmed that the Climate Change Action Plan would not be brought back to the Committee again prior to public consultation but would be monitored in the future via the Forward Plan.




1)    the Committee provided comments or feedback on the proposed Climate Change Action Plan to be taken into account prior to the report coming back to Cabinet in July 2021;

2)    The Climate Action, Manager, explore the innovations / alternatives to tree planting being considered and report back to the Committee via Democratic Services;

3)    The Climate Action, Manager, consult with procurement colleagues to ascertain the long-term plan regarding contracts and report back to the Committee via Democratic Services; and

4)    The Climate Action Manager establish the amount of paper currently used within the Council and how this could be reduced and report back to the Committee via Democratic Services.

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