Agenda item

Climate Action Plan Annual Update


Ms Jo Allen, the Council's Climate Action Manager, advised that the report provided an update in relation to the objectives set out in the Strategic Climate Action Plan and the Council's aspiration to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.  The Council had set out six corporate commitments covering nine key themes, along with a series of priorities for 2022/2023. 


The Committee was advised hat the Council had taken advantage of grant funding via a bid process with numerous successful applications made including:

1.    Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme - £3,862,804

2.    Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund - £1,582,432

3.    Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme - £13,751,385


Mr Scott advised that the grants were advertised by central Government and officers needed to submit applications within short timeframes and, if successful, had to deliver the agreed scheme in equally short timescales.  He noted that the Council had not missed many opportunities to bid for grants and had been successful in 100% of the bids that it had submitted.  There were also times when the Council was able to submit joint bids in conjunction with other organisations. 


Ms Allen advised that an extensive street lighting replacement programme had been undertaken and a trial had been conducted across six sites for a standalone off grid LED street lighting luminaire.  The lights in the Grainges car park had also been replaced, resulting in a 38% reduction in energy consumption. 


Whilst the installation of LED street lights across the whole Borough had helped the environment, it was noted that they were not as bright and therefore could make pedestrians feel unsafe in darker spots.  Where issues had been identified, the situation had been assessed and, where appropriate, additional light columns had been installed.  It was suggested that officers liaise with the police officers working on the Street Safe project as they would be aware of the areas where pedestrians felt unsafe. 


The Council's boiler replacement programme continued and the schools screening programme was progressing (39 schools had had screens installed and 12 more were in the validation phase).  Progress had also been made on the Trees for Cities tree planting programme but it was noted that saplings could take time to develop and become effective in mitigating the impact of carbon. 


To maximise the effectiveness of the Council's climate aspirations, it was important that the authority worked with other groups such as the West London Climate Emergency Officers Group and the London Environment Directors Group Network to share challenges and opportunities.  A progress report would be considered by Cabinet at its meeting in September 2023. 


Members queried whether the new West Drayton Leisure Centre would be on track to be carbon neutral by 2030.  Mr Perry Scott, the Council's Corporate Director of Place, advised that the design of the leisure centre had had to demonstrate that it met the net zero needs during the planning process so the building had been designed to that standard.  He confirmed that all new housing developments, such as the Hayes regeneration schemes, would also need to conform to these standards and would need to demonstrate low energy consumption.  It was suggested that initiatives such as green roofing be considered as part of the retrofitting programme for existing Council housing stock. 


It was suggested that consideration be given to the removal of the need for planning permission for things like the installation of solar panels, as the formal process could be a deterrent to some people.  Members also asked if, when householders in the Borough extended their houses, it would be possible to require them to include certain green elements to their permitted development.  Mr Scott would take these two suggestions back to colleagues in the Planning Team. 


It was recognised that Heathrow Airport caused air pollution in the Borough.  Officers had been working with Heathrow who were keen to engage and an open dialogue had been started to explore what could be done. 


There were significant benefits with regard to open spaces and Mr Scott noted that around 17k trees had been planted in the Borough's green spaces in the last year. 


An innovative approach to road construction had been taken, offering enhanced efficiencies and lower carbon production, and had been trialled in a couple of places in the Borough.  The road resurfacing had provided the same quality but was already warm when it arrived so did not consume energy to heat from cold.  Although the new surfaces were currently performing well, its resistance to developing potholes was yet to be determined.  Mr Scott would let Members know where these trials were being held.


Members asked if it would be possible to include additional priorities for the future.  For example, increased engagement with Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority to improve public transport options in the Borough such as more electric buses, an increase in bus routes, an extension to the tube lines, etc.  Mr Scott advised that the Council's Transport team had been in regular contact with TfL and that this would continue. 


It was suggested that, rather than electricity, vehicles would more likely be powered by hydrogen in the future.  As such, Members queried whether the Council was looking to plan for this development with regard to its fleet.  Mr Scott advised that the availability and cost of vehicles were significant factors, with new technology developing quickly and costing a lot when first introduced. 


Mr Scott advised that the contract for the rapid vehicle charging points in the Borough was currently out to tender and had been included on the Cabinet Forward Plan for June 2023.  A cashback scheme had been in place in the past to replace old boilers and Members asked whether there was any chance that this would be reintroduced.  Mr Scott would take this back to relevant colleagues to investigate. 


With regard to the boiler replacement programme, the report stated that further analysis on usage was currently under review and would form part of the Cabinet update in 2023.  Members asked that they receive clarification from officers on what this meant. 


RESOLVED:  That the discussion and report be noted. 

Supporting documents: