Agenda and draft minutes

Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 21st October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting held via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Daniel Harry  01609 533531

Items
No. Item

133.

Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 661 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2021 were taken as read and confirmed by the Chairman as a correct record.

134.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest to note.

135.

Public Questions or Statements

Members of the public may ask questions or make statements at this meeting if they have delivered notice (to include the text of the question/statement) to Daniel Harry of Legal and Democratic Services (contact details below) no later than midday on Monday 18 October 2021.   Each speaker should limit themselves to 3 minutes on any item. Members of the public who have given notice will be invited to speak:-

·           at this point in the meeting if their questions/statements relate to matters which are not otherwise on the Agenda (subject to an overall time limit of 30 minutes);

·           when the relevant Agenda item is being considered if they wish to speak on a matter which is on the Agenda for this meeting.

If you are exercising your right to speak at this meeting, but do not wish to be recorded, please inform the Chairman who will instruct those taking a recording to cease while you speak.

Minutes:

No public questions or statements were received.

136.

Update on the progress of North Yorkshire County Council's Carbon Reduction Plan - Report of the Assistant Director Policy, Partnerships and Communities, NYCC pdf icon PDF 877 KB

Minutes:

Considered – A report by Neil Irving, the Assistant Director Policy, Partnerships and Communities, NYCC on the progress being made with implementation of the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan.

 

The key points from the presentation are as summarised below:

 

·         The plan was approved at Executive on 13 July 2021

·         It has an aspirational target for net carbon neutrality by 2030 or as close to that date as is possible

·         The focus is upon what the Council is doing and can do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which includes work done to date and work that is being planned

·         Progress will be regularly monitored as part of the corporate performance management report that goes to Management Board and the Executive

·         There is wider engagement with the LEP and district councils

·         The focus is upon reducing electricity use as far as possible, ensuring that what electricity is used is from renewables and capturing and storing carbon dioxide

·         The pandemic and the large scale move to home working has reduced the level of carbon dioxide emissions

·         Heating, lighting and travel are key areas of work.  LED street lights have been hugely successful in reducing emissions

·         One of the Council’s biggest carbon footprints is residential settings

·         Work is underway to look at the use of electric vehicles across the Council fleet

·         Off-setting is an important element and the White Rose Forest will be significant in this regard

·         The Brierley Group of companies are continuing to develop their own carbon reduction plans.

 

There followed a discussion, the key points of which are summarised as below:

 

·         There were gains to be made from window replacement in schools but this was not always simple as schools are largely independent of the Council and cannot be subsidised

·         There were concerns about the increasing use of Lithium batteries, as the move is made to using electric vehicles.  There are environmental and social problems associated with the extraction and disposal of Lithium

·         There are opportunities for organisations to share buildings and reduce the overall estate.  This process was started with the ‘one public estate’ initiative a number of years ago but seems to have lost momentum.  It will become increasingly important as the Council becomes a unitary authority in April 2023

·         The gains to the Council made by increased home working during the pandemic may have been undermined by the increased emissions from multiple, individual properties that are less efficient than a large office space

·         Query as to where the link was between the Council Minerals and Waste Plan and the Carbon Reduction Plan

·         The use of hydrogen as a fuel had not been taken into account.  It was accepted that there were some difficulties associated with the production and supply of this fuel but more could be done to look into this in the long term, particularly green hydrogen

·         There may be opportunities to use closed landfill sites for solar farms, as the land has no other developmental use

·         An inspiring vision that could be understood, shared and owned would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 136.

137.

Update on reducing use of single-use plastics - Report of the Assistant Director Travel, Environmental and Countryside Access Services, NYCC pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Minutes:

Considered – A report by Michael Leah, Assistant Director Travel, Environmental and Countryside Access Services, NYCC updating the committee on the progress being made with reduction in the use of single-use plastics.

 

The key points from the report are as summarised below:

 

·         The report outlining the process for the reduction in the use of single-use plastics, along with 16 specific recommendations, went to the Executive in March 2021

·         With the majority of County Council employees working from home for the past 18 months, the use of single-use plastics has reduced significantly

·         Some, limited progress has been made with procurement and a new purchasing strategy that helps to reduce the use of single use plastics

·         The work on single use plastic reduction will be incorporated into the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan

·         Recognition that there has not been the progress that would have been liked but this has been down to the upheaval caused by the need to respond to the pandemic.  The creation of a new unitary authority may also have an impact upon progress.

 

There followed a discussion, as summarised below:

 

·         Disappointing to see that no real progress has been made with the implementation of the 16 recommendations

·         Whilst it is accepted that the response to the pandemic has meant that resources have been diverted to other areas of work and priorities, this cannot continue.  There should be a renewed focus upon reducing the use of single use plastics across the Council

·         There remains a high level of public concern about single use plastics and the Council has a leadership role to play and can help influence behaviour change.

 

County Councillor David Goode asked why the issue of PPE use during the pandemic had not been covered in the report.  This was a major omission as this was the biggest source of single use plastics over the past 18 months.

 

In response, Michael Leah said that access to regular supplies of PPE over the past 18 months was key to the response to the pandemic and could not be avoided.  The PPE could not be re-used safely and was not readily recyclable.

 

County Councillor Paul Haslam said that the report was an honest assessment of progress and whilst disappointing the open and transparent approach was welcomed.  He asked whether more could be done at a local level, with small actions and initiatives that build up to effect major change over time.

 

Michael Leah said that there had been significant issues associated with keeping services going during the pandemic and the focus of the Council has completely shifted over the past 18 months.

 

County Councillor Stanley Lumley summed up and thanked Michael Leah for attending the updating the committee.

 

Resolved:-

 

1)         That a further update be brought back to the committee either independently or as part of the Council Carbon Reduction Plan.

 

 

County Councillor Matt Scott left the meeting at 11:00am

 

 

 

 

 

 

138.

Allerton Waste Recovery Park update - Report of the Assistant Director - Travel, Environmental and Countryside Services, NYCC pdf icon PDF 450 KB

Minutes:

Considered – A report by Michael Leah, Assistant Director Travel, Environmental and Countryside Access Services, NYCC updating the committee on the performance of the Allerton Waste Recovery Park.

 

Michael Leah introduced the report, the key points of which are as summarised below:

 

·         The facility has been operational since 1 March 2018

·         The site has a Mechanical Treatment plant, an Anaerobic Digester and an Energy from Waste facility

·         The facility can receive up to 320,000 tonnes of residual household waste per annum from across North Yorkshire and York over a 25 year contract period

·         An additional 50,000 tonnes of commercial waste per year is being taken from YorWaste.  This will help ensure peak performance of the facility

·         There have been some problems with the Mechanical Treatment plant, some of which are linked to the type of waste being processed

·         The separation of recyclables from residual waste has been difficult at times and produced a low grade product for which there is little demand.  Work is underway to improve the quality of the recovered recyclables and to find new markets for them

·         The pandemic has impacted upon overall performance as staff have been obliged to self-isolate when they have tested positive

·         There are always teething problems with a new facility and anything of this scale

·         The Allerton Waste Recovery Park is in part an ‘energy from waste’ facility. The energy comes from bio-gas from anaerobic digester plant and electricity from the incineration of waste

·         The plant has to shut down periodically to enable maintenance and safety checks to be carried out.  When shut down, the waste is diverted to other sites and does not go to landfill

·         The new, national waste management strategy that is due to be published in the next months will have an impact upon the type and amount of waste processed at the plant as the emphasis is upon reducing overall residual waste and maximising recycling at the kerb-side.

 

There followed a discussion, the key points of which are as summarised below:

 

·         There is a risk that the collection and processing of waste is incentivised to enable the successful completion of the contract and the peak use of the plant, rather than focussing upon the reduction of waste and recycling generally

·         The management of food waste is key.  This involves work with households and food suppliers to reduce waste overall and then putting in place mechanisms to divert what is left from the residual waste system

·         There is a need to ensure that the contract continues to deliver over its lifespan

·         Modifying the behaviour of consumers and suppliers of food remains a big challenge

·         The plant was controversial when first suggested and when the business case was being developed but it has since proved to be a great asset to the county.

 

County Councillor David Goode asked what the impact of the new national waste strategy would be upon the 25 year contract that had been entered into.

 

Peter Jeffreys, Waste and Countryside Services, said that there is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 138.

139.

Responding to the Rural Commission Report - hydro-electric energy generation in rural communities - Report of the Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, NYCC pdf icon PDF 325 KB

Minutes:

Considered – A report by Daniel Harry, Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, NYCC on small scale, community based hydro-electric power generation.

 

The key points from the presentation are as summarised below:

 

·         The generation of electricity through hydro-electric power in rural communities was noted as an omission from the recently published Rural Commission report and recommendations

·         The county has a number of rivers and tributaries that have the necessary ‘flow’ and ‘head’ to enable viable generation of hydro-electric power

·         The feasibility of schemes varies significantly according to the setting and the infrastructure currently in place

·         There are a number of financial, administrative and bureaucratic barriers in place to progressing small scale hydro-electric schemes

·         Hydro-electric schemes tend to be adopted more quickly when undertaken by private landowners and when using the existing infrastructure on a river, such as a weir or mill race

·         Hydro-electric schemes tend to work better when part of a basket of renewable energy generation

·         The Council and the LEP have an opportunity to promote small scale, community owned hydro-electric power generation across the county

·         The technology is improving all the time and this may help create more opportunities.

 

There followed a discussion, the key points of which are as below:

 

·         There are extensive rivers in the county that could be used for small scale hydro-electric power generation

·         There are existing examples that could be learned from

·         Feasibility studies are key and need to be done at the earliest stages.  The Council and the LEP may have a role in identifying places where small scale hydro-electric power generation could be practicable.

 

County Councillor David Goode said that a recent attempt by a community group in Knaresborough to install a small hydro-electric plant was ultimately unsuccessful because there were too many barriers for them to overcome and a community group that had been highly motivated became dis-heartened.  There was more that could be done to support such groups and help them undertake feasibility studies and then navigate their way through the various permissions needed.

 

County Councillor David Staveley said that it was important to look at the assets already in place along the county’s rivers and start with the existing infrastructure.  This would help reduce the need for complex and expensive building work.  The river Ribble has a number of old mills along its length that could be re-purposed.

 

County Councillor Paul Haslam said that hydro-electric schemes could be incorporated in flood defence work.  Also, that the public needed information and advice about what is possible and where to get help.

 

County Councillor Stanley Lumley summed up.

 

Resolved: -

 

1)    Daniel Harry to take forward the recommendations in the report and provide an update to the committee on progress.

 

 

 

140.

Committee Work Programme - Report of the Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, NYCC pdf icon PDF 685 KB

Minutes:

Considered -

 

The report of Daniel Harry, Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, NYCC asking the Committee to confirm, amend or add to the areas of the work listed in the Work Programme schedule (Appendix 1 to the report).

 

Daniel Harry introduced the report.

 

County Councillor David Jeffels asked that the discussion with Highways England took place as scheduled on 20 January 2022, as it was vitally important that some long-standing issues were addressed.

 

County Councillor David Staveley said that more needed to be done to ensure that the LEP was subject to robust scrutiny.  The current arrangements, whereby an annual scrutiny session was held, were not sufficient.

  

 

Resolved -

 

1)    That the Work Programme be noted

2)    Daniel Harry to speak with Highways England and ensure attendance for the January 2022 committee meeting

3)    Daniel Harry to speak with the LEP about scrutiny arrangements.