That, subject to any comments Executive Members may have, the draft Carbon Reduction Plan at Appendix 1 be proposed to the Chief Executive Officer for his consideration and approval, using his emergency delegated powers.
Considered – A report of the Chief Executive presenting a draft Carbon Reduction Plan for Executive Members’ consideration.
County Councillor Greg White introduced the report that confirmed the Council’s aspiration to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2030, the work undertaken to date and the plans to be put in place over the next few years.
The Chairman invited Ms Holstrom to present her public submission to Executive Members, which had been circulated to Executive Members ahead of the meeting. The written statement submitted by Ms Holstrom stated:
“ClimateActionStokesleyandVillagesare pleasedthat theNorthYorkshireCountyCouncil havedeveloped a carbon reductionplanwith theobjectiveof reachingCarbonNet Zeroby2030.It is aconcern thatthis is notbindingas thereis thecaveatof ‘asnear tothat dateas possible’.
Clearlya lotof workhas goneintoproducingthiscarbonreductionplan, so welldoneNYCC.Thereis much tolikehere,forexample the2030netzero target,LEDstreetlighting, abuildingefficiencyprogramme,a heatdecarbonisationplanand£1milliontopump-primebusiness cases.However,byfocussingonitsown operations,we thinkthat NYCCis missingoutonopportunitiestouseits influencetodriveurgentlyneeded changeacross thecounty onan evenmoreambitiousscale.
NYCChasa keyrole to playin ensuringdeliveryofclimatereductionincluding(accordingtoNear Youdata):
• Installationof2800EV chargingpointsby2030 (whichis NorthYorkshire’sfair share oftheUK target– theNYCC planaims for615 –less thana quarterof whatis needed)
• Installationof3000GWhofrenewableenergyacross thecounty theplanmentions solarenergybut fails to puta targetonhowmuch.
• TheUK ClimateChangeCommittee’stargetoneco-heatingsystems wouldmeanaround 50000 systemse.g. air andgroundsourceheatpumps fittedaroundNorth Yorkshire.The council rightly identifytheneedfora HeatDecarbonisationStrategyfor their own buildingstockbutfail to mentiontheneedtocontributeto thebuildingstockacrossthe county.
• There’sa similar storyaround theneedto insulatebuildings wherewe knowwe needtoinsulate tensof thousands ofleaky homesacrossthecounty.
We arealsoappreciativeoftheNorth YorkshireHighwaysinitiative toworkwithPlantlifeto encourage biodiversityonthe verges.As climatechangecannotbefixed withoutaddressingthebiodiversity breakdown itis hopedthat NYCCwill useits influenceandresourcestoensurethat existingfloraand fauna are protected. It isthereforeimportantthatall stepsare taken to ensurethatnot onlyis carbonreduction andbiodiversity are included intheNYCCdecisionmakingprocess.
Educationwithin thevarious council departmentsat all levels isessential becauseit canseemthatthe climatechangeconcernsoftheCouncillorsand Executivehavenotfiltered downto the employeesonthe ground.Communicationofthe plan andits progress againstmeasurableoutcomeswill bekeyto success.
In essence,it is goodthatthecouncil is gettingits ownhousein orderbutneedstoexertits influenceand its potential roleofenablingactionacross thecounty.Alongwithothercommunitygroupsacrossthe county, welookforward to workingwith thecounciltodevelopan evenmore ambitiousplanto ensure that we achievenet carbonneutrality by 2030.”
Ms Holstrom was given the opportunity to precis her written statement and confirmed the Climate Action Stokesley and Villages group were encouraged by the introduction of the Council’s Plan but felt there other things that needed addressing in more detail e.g. the number of e.v. charging points to be installed; the lack of a target for renewable/solar energy; the Council’s contribution to the building stock/eco heating systems across the county, and building insulation;
County Councillor Greg White thanked Ms Holmstrom for her written submission and her constructive comments and thanked the Climate Action Stokesley and Villages group for their engagement. He also drew attention to a written response that had been provided to Ms Holmstrom, which stated:
‘This was the first Carbon Reduction Plan that the County Council had produced and the constructive comments from Climate Action Stokesley and Villages were welcomed.
This first plan had an emphasis on the Council’s own carbon footprint and services. It was essential progress was made on those. The plan also emphasised work with partners, including district councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership, regarding the carbon footprint of the county’s residents and businesses. It recognised that this element of the plan would need further development over the next year.
It confirmed The County Council:
· Would review the Plan annually and incorporate it into the annual Council Plan, so carbon reduction sat at the very heart of the Council’s ambitions and strategy. The plan would develop as the Council learned from the work of itself and others; and as there were developments in legislation, and new technology on the market.
· was fully committed to the ambition of achieving net zero by 2030. Nevertheless, it could not guarantee that it would be achieved as it would not be able to tackle every aspect of carbon reduction nor achieve net carbon neutrality without government support and action through legislation and fiscal measures; and significant changes in national infrastructure, e.g. in generation, distribution and/or storage of electricity.
· had introduced a climate change impact assessment tool which officers were required to complete and submit to decision makers to help ensure that carbon reduction and biodiversity were included in the NYCC decision making.
· was starting to see increased numbers of commercial EV charging points, and had a role to play in encouraging and facilitating, but did not have the powers or resources to install or manage them on the scale that was needed.
· was communicating the importance of its work to all staff and many staff were personally committed as well as professionally committed to net zero e.g. the recent Chief Executive’s webinar for all staff included a significant section on the Council’s carbon reduction work, and the development of joint carbon literacy training for staff in partnership with district councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership
· would regularly monitor progress as part of its corporate performance management framework including quarterly performance reports to its Management Board and Executive’
Specifically in response to Ms Holmstrom’s comments at the meeting, Cllr Greg White confirmed that in regard to e.v. charging points, the Council was keen to ensure the right e.v. charging points were rolled out across the county, and that the Council would not be solely responsible for their provision. He confirmed the focus of the report was on the Council’s own activities and associated emissions as per the mandate given in July 2019, but confirmed the Council would also work with the LEP and district councils to lead on carbon reduction across the county.
The Chairman thanked Ms Holmstrom for her contribution at the meeting.
It was confirmed that other groups had been in contact with individual Executive members e.g. ‘Zero Carbon Harrogate’ and ‘Thirsk Friends of the Earth’ Their contributions were welcomed and it was suggested that moving forward it might be useful to have one engagement point for the Plan. Attention was also drawn to the limited resources of the Council to address CO2 reduction and climate change, and the difficult decisions that may need to be taken in the future.
In response to a request from Zero Carbon Harrogate for more detailed information on the steps to be taken to reduce carbon in the organisation and what the Council was doing as a leader in North Yorkshire to influence the behaviour of others, County Councillor Don Mackenzie drew attention to the work on street lighting, the Council’s annual spend on home to school transport, subsidised bus services, digital infrastructure improvements across the county and the development of active travel schemes to encourage green travel.
County Councillor Greg White reassured members that work was underway to look at how the Council could demonstrate the work it was doing, and how best to work with the Council’s suppliers to support them in their journey towards carbon reduction.
It was confirmed the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee would lead on scrutinising the Council’s carbon reduction work, with the Scrutiny Board keeping a watching brief.
County Councillor Philip Broadbank welcomed the Plan and the direction of travel, but suggested the Council could also look at its procurement policies, Allerton Waste Recovery Park, LA Schools, Buying Local, and working with commercial companies to boost the number of e.v. charging points.
County Councillor Paul Haslem also welcomed the report and the £1m set aside to kick start the Council’s plans, but suggested the Council would benefit from having a governance and audit framework in place to assess progress. He also recognised that behavioural change was critical and saw the role of the Council not only as a leader and influencer, but also as an enabler.
County Councillor Greg White thanked members for their comments and contributions and agreed to look at them in detail and to take forward them where appropriate and possible. He also recognised the Council would need to be careful not to make commitments that it was not empowered to deliver.
The Executive Member present voted in favour of the recommendations in the report and it was
That the draft Carbon Reduction Plan be proposed to the Chief Executive Officer for his consideration and approval, using his emergency delegated powers.