Agenda item

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


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 be key

·         A mixed economy of energy generation in terms of size and type was needed.  Small scale, community-based renewables had their place alongside large scale solar and wind farms.  Micro-grids are widely used in developing countries and could be relatively easily applied to villages in the county.


County Councillor David Staveley asked how the carbon dioxide emissions were calculated.  He noted that a ‘whole life’ approach needed to be taken as the replacement of existing equipment or facilities prior to the end of their life, for a more efficient upgrade, may help reduce some carbon dioxide emissions but will have carbon dioxide emissions associated with disposing of them prior to their natural end of life.  In effect, their carbon dioxide emissions per year of use has risen, due to the shorter period of use.


In response Neil Irving said that the calculations were complicated but that the need to take into account the ‘whole life’ of a product was important.


County Councillor Paul Haslam said that more could be done by the Council to specify what climate change mitigation measures it expected as a minimum from its suppliers.


Neil Irving said that this work was underway with the Council procurement team but that this needed careful consideration as it would have a disproportionate financial impact upon smaller, local suppliers who may be less able to absorb the associated increase in costs.


County Councillor Stanley Lumley asked whether the necessary electricity supply infrastructure was in place to cope with the increased demand over the next 10 to 20 years, particularly in rural areas.


In response, Neil Irving said that the Council had not direct control over the electricity supply infrastructure but that they were able to speak with and lobby the relevant authorities.


County Councillor Stanley Lumley summed up and thanked Neil Irving for attending the meeting.




1)         That Neil Irving comes back to the committee in 12 months to provide a further update.

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