Key Decision identified as Telford & Wrekin Council Becoming Carbon Neutral Action Plan Annual Review in the Notice of Key Decisions published on 17 February 2021.
Councillor C Healy, Cabinet Member: Visitor Economy, Historic & Natural Environment and Climate Change presented the report of the Director: Communities, Customer & Commercial Services.
The Becoming Carbon Neutral Action Plan Annual Review report set out the progress the Council had made since declaring a Climate Emergency.
The Council had been committed to reducing its carbon footprint for the last ten years. However, following the declaration of a Climate Emergency in July 2019, with a clear target for the Council’s operations to be carbon neutral by 2030, action to tackle climate change had been at the heart of everything the Authority did.
Good progress had been made in reducing emissions from the Council’s operations, with a 36% decrease in 2019/20 compared to the previous baseline year. Emissions for the year 2020/21 would show a further reduction and would be published later this year.
This was as a result of the successful implementation of a wide range of carbon reduction measures. The Council had continued to prioritise this work, recognising the need to respond to the climate emergency as well as the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Actions planned for the next year included a £1.37m grant-funded scheme to fit heat pumps and improved insulation in Council Leisure Centres, retrofitting Council buildings and temporary housing, measures to deliver a 30% reduction in business travel and a commitment to plant a tree in a community forest for every reception age child in Telford & Wrekin on Council-owned land.
The report updated on how the Council had been working with partners locally, regionally, and nationally on the climate change agenda. The Partnership was developing an action plan to tackle climate change across the wider Borough, which would be published for public consultation later in 2021.
The Council had also run a successful programme of communication campaigns in 2020/21 to help residents, businesses and communities make changes to reduce their carbon footprints. In order to enable even more local organisations to take action, the Council launched a new £100k Climate Change Fund in February 2021.
Covid-19 had not undermined progress but had strengthened it with the changes to how everybody worked and lived. Sustainability was embedded at the heart of the Borough’s post-Covid recovery,
The importance of this issue to the community was illustrated in the 2020 Residents’ Survey, which found that the majority of Telford & Wrekin residents were concerned about climate change. The Authority could not succeed alone and required more legislation and greater funding support from Government.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat / Independent Group welcomed the report and noted the Borough’s successes, specifically the solar farm and LED street lighting. Support was also stated for tree planting campaigns.
The Leader of the Conservative Group noted the importance of selecting the right tree for the right site. Clarification was sought on the location of the new community forest and on the planned number of electrical vehicle charging points in the Borough.
In response to the Leader of the Conservative Groups questions, trees for the forest would be planted at appropriate sites across the Borough as opposed to a single site. With regard to electric vehicle charging points, the Council was pursuing a number of strategies, investigating a forecourt scheme in partnership with the private sector, and how to facilitate charging in areas without private driveways.
a) The Council’s updated Becoming Carbon Neutral Action Plan 2020/21 set out in Appendix 1 outlining how the Council will continue to work to reduce carbon emissions from the Council’s operations and activities and influence carbon reduction Borough wide, be approved.
b) Authority be delegated to the Director for Communities, Customer & Commercial Services (and any Council Officer authorised in writing by the Director for Communities, Customer & Commercial Services) to exercise the Council’s powers relating to the preparation, publication, consultation, and processing to secure the delivery of the Borough Action Plan.
c) This report in relation to the Council’s response to the Climate Emergency Declaration be noted and referred to Full Council for information as part of the ‘Matters Determined by the Cabinet’ report.