The Policy and Finance Committee approved a Carbon Neutral Strategy (2022-30) for Arun District Council on 14 October 2021. This report sets out the work plan to achieve the 2030 target.
The Chair invited the Council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Officer to present this report. He explained that following the approval of the Carbon Neutral Strategy (2022-30) at this Committee on 14 October 2021, a more detailed action plan had been requested. This report set out the actions which needed to be undertaken to achieve the 2030 carbon neutral target. Members’ attention was brought to the graphs [on pages 22 and 23 of the Agenda Pack] that illustrated carbon projections in different scenarios – ‘business as usual’ and ‘high level carbon reduction plan’ – with the latter confirming that the Council could, theoretically, meet its targets if action was taken. The report detailed sustainable projects that had already been completed, were nearing completion, had been planned or could be undertaken. He concluded that in order to meet these targets it was important that projects were spread across all scopes and service areas, whilst noting that indirect emissions that result from activities occurring in the supply chain of the council (‘Scope 3’) made up the majority of carbon emissions. It was confirmed that the action plan would be updated annually to reflect the changes in emissions and provide updates to projects undertaken.
The Chair invited questions. Clarity was sought over the costing figures for heat pumps [on page 25 of the Agenda Pack]. It was explained that these figures were a rough indication of comparative installation costs of gas boilers and air source heat pumps and highlighted the cost difference between the two options. It was hoped that technological improvements and economies of scale would further reduce in future making heat pumps more economically viable. The report was found to be confusing for one Member as it was a mixture of things (action points, monitoring, reviewing) and whether it would be helpful to highlight where the actions were coming from by identifying targets that the Council hoped to achieve. It was noted that the biggest impact in carbon reduction would come through the supply chain and Officers were asked to confirm the timescale for that. Officers confirmed that they were actively reviewing the procurement policy to favour more sustainable contractors.
The main aim of the action plan was questioned as to whether it was to make the Council, as an organisation, more energy efficient and ‘greener’ rather than the district and residents’ homes. Officers confirmed the action plan did currently focus on the Council’s own emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3), however there are still some projects currently being undertaken which do impact emission reductions in the district. It was also confirmed that once the Council started to get its own emissions in order that more focus would be spent addressing district wide emissions. The CEO explained that it was essential that as an organisation we took the climate challenge seriously, it being one of the four priorities in the Council’s draft vision document, and that there were large challenges for the Council to meet which it would not be able to do in isolation. This meant needing to start building partnerships with other parts of the district and beyond, and whilst reducing carbon emissions also working to increase biodiversity.
One Member, noting how delighted she was to hear the CEO being so positive and being in support of the objectives too, did not think that this came across in the action plan but that it was a brilliant step on the ladder. Partly in response to earlier discussion regarding the structure and content of the plan, it was suggested that short-term actions be brought forward to the beginning of each section to highlight them and that it was useful to have estimated carbon savings against actions, and that council and district targets needed to be better distinguished to illustrate more clearly what was being done for the Council and what was being done for the district. The significant drop shown on the graph [on page 23 of the Agenda Pack] and how this was to be achieved was questioned given that half the budget for thefirst year was to be staff costs and, though needed, audits of the estate and emissions and a transition to electric vehicles. The need for staff training to be linked to the work actually undertaken, for the Council to make sure residents were involved and engaged in the process as early as possible rather than just being kept up to date, for biodiversity targets to be linked to local nature partnership obligations in readiness for the coming Environment Act, and whether a Working Group should be set up between departments were also suggested. A written response would be provided to the Member by Officers in relation to the points raised.
More general points were raised by Members on the County-wide electric vehicle charging network and how many would be fitted in Arun and by when, and commitments to electric vehicle charging points and photovoltaic (PV) panels for council-owned housing and whether these could be extended to all privately owned housing as part of the planning permission process. The Chair confirmed that the installation of electric vehicle charging points in Arun started later this year. The Director of Place clarified that in terms of planning, Government guidance did not facilitate making these conditions and that updates to policies in that direction would have to go through the Local Plan process. In response and noting that the district was one of the sunniest parts of the UK, and therefore more likely to produce more energy per PV panel than anywhere else, one Member asked whether the Council could ask Government to allow us to become the first District Authority to go all PV and all battery in all new buildings; putting Arun on the map and at the same time doing its bit for climate change. The Director of Place reiterated his earlier points and noted that the Local Plan process was currently paused, and that if the Council decided to proceed with a new Local Plan then work could be undertaken on the targets wished to be pursued and evidence could begin to be collected to explore support for them. Another Member noted that whatever policies the Council put in place had to withstand the tests of the Planning Inspector and conform to Government policy.
Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Pendleton, by unanimous vote,
That the Climate Action and Biodiversity Work Plan 2022-2023 be approved, subject to the approval of the Council’s Budget for 2022/2023 and £200,000 for the following:
(1) £50,000 per annum for an Officer to support the Climate Change and Sustainability Manager;
(2) Up to £60,000 for building audits;
(3) £7,500 for carbon emission monitoring and supporting the assessment of supplier carbon calculations;
(4) £2,000 for training and accreditation; and
(5) Authority be given to the Group Head of Wellbeing in consultation with the Group Head of Corporate Support (Section 151 Officer) to delegate unallocated sums within budget to fund projects detailed in the Work Plan.