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Agenda item

Wiltshire Council's Response to the Climate Emergency- Update Report

A report from the Chief Executive Officer, Terence Herbert.

Minutes:

Councillor Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Heritage, Arts & Tourism, Housing and Communities, presented the update report on Wiltshire Council’s Response to the Climate Emergency.

 

Cllr Clewer explained the expectation had been to introduce the full Climate Strategy however, this had not been possible following the impact of COVID-19 national restrictions and the Council’s response. Therefore, a discussion document was appended to the report, setting out the proposed approach to developing a draft Climate Strategy and its outline content, navigating engagement and consultation through to its final adoption.

 

Cllr Clewer confirmed that the Council’s Climate Team was now in place and making good progress with the development of a Climate Engagement Plan following engagement with a significant number of stakeholders. He commented on the investment of £50m to raise councils homes to an energy performance B rating, as a minimum, over the next 10 years, the council’s successful application to the Government’s ‘Green Homes Grant’ Local Authority Delivery Scheme – Phase 1b – targeting improvements to 100 homes with the poorest levels of insulation by September 2021.

 

Cllr Clewer proposed, seconded by Cllr Whitehead, that the recommendations as detailed in the report be adopted.

 

Public questions were receives from Sue Deedigan and Mary Webb.

All questions and their written responses were contained in the agenda supplement.  There were no supplementary questions.

 

Statements were received from the following in relation to the Council’s response to the Climate Emergency:

 

·       Andrew Nicolson

·       Carys Richards – Wiltshire Climate Alliance Youth

·       Baroness Jones of Mouslecoomb

·       Caroline Lanyon

 

In response to a number of comments raised in the questions and statements Cllr Clewer the (i) Wiltshire was a large rural county and therefore transport issues were difficult to overcome.  Appropriate infrastructure would be required in advance of any new homes developments; (ii) The Council must meet housing targets set by the Government; (iii) Carbon neutrality may not be completely resolved by 2030; (iv) The Council understands the importance of sustainable energy and discussions have been taking place with energy companies to progress the delivery of energy proposals, alongside the necessary support from Government.

 

The Chairman then invited Group Leaders to speak before opening the debate to Members.

 

The Leader of the Council, confirmed the Council was committed to carbon neutrality and working towards the Councils motion of 26 February 2019 to acknowledge that ‘there is a climate emergency and to seek to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030’. He reported that significant progress was being made on a number of issues, although the framework for achieving carbon neutrality was very tight.

 

Cllr Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, thanked the public for their questions and statements, and congratulated Cllr Clewer for the work being undertaken and his commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. He questioned how the ‘new’ Council could be more effective in it’s review of the Council’s Carbon Strategy and the Council would need to listen to issues raised by the public in order to deliver on the huge challenges facing the Council.

 

Cllr Clark, Leader of the Independents, commented on the challenges ahead for the Council including the number of new homes required in the county.

 

Cllr McLennan, on behalf of the Labour Party, was pleased that new Council housing builds would be zero emissions and noted that the challenge was to influence and lead on many other fronts and work alongside established climate organisations.

 

A number of other comments were received from the Council including, an apparent lack of ambition and ‘can do’ attitude in the areas of change and reallocation of resources, the future of waste management and links with climate commitments, the commitment to work together to achieve lasting results, dramatic increase in the volume of cardboard and glass during the lockdown, collection of food waste and delays to the Environment Bill and  Pension Fund investment in renewable energy sources and local infrastructure.

 

Resolved:

1.     That Council notes the actions taken in response to the climate emergency since July 2020.

 

2.     That Council notes that Cabinet, on February 2nd, 2021, delegated authority to the Director of Economic Development and Planning, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Heritage, Arts & Tourism, Housing and Communities, to proceed to:

a.     develop and implement a Climate Engagement Plan based on the appended discussion document; and,

 

b.    authorise a subsequent consultation on such draft proposals as may emerge from the engagement process; and,

 

c.     return to Cabinet with a final draft Climate Strategy, seeking approval to submit to Council for adoption.

  

Supporting documents:

 

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