Agenda item

Briefing on BDC Approach to Climate Emergency.


Committee considered a presentation provided by the Strategic Director – People in relation to the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan 2019-2030.


Carbon footprint was the overall amount of climate change gas emissions we produced and was how negative impact upon the environment was measured.  It was the primary cause associated with climate change.


A growing global awareness of the effect of our carbon footprint had started to grow a global appetite for change; a need to move to a lower carbon lifestyle, to do things differently and to reduce, re-use, recycle and rethink.


The Council’s vision was for a District that balanced economic prosperity with environmental sustainability, improving the lives of people and the environment. 


The Climate Change Act 2008, legislated for all organisations to reduce their carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.  In 2010, the Council had developed an Energy Management Policy and had made incremental changes in reducing its emissions.  Some examples of this were; the Council’s refuse vehicles, in terms of vehicle and engine design, were now more environmentally friendly.  Bin hoisters on refuse vehicles had also been changed from fuel driven to electric lift, which charged whilst driving, so dramatically using less fuel.  Journey rationalisation in terms of routes, smart technologies, LEDs etc. 


Since 2013, the Council had already reduced its emissions, that could be measured, by 50% and the Strategic Director – People felt that the Council would be a lot further ahead of the Government’s 80% target by 2050.  It was noted, however, that the Government’s targets could change/increase over the coming years.


As a community leader, the Council had the opportunity to raise awareness of the potential to reduce emissions and influence change leading to economic and social benefits.  The Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan 2019-2030 set out8 thematic areas by which the Council aimed to reduce its carbon emissions;


1.    Sustainable Buildings and Workplaces

2.    Renewable Energy

3.    Low Carbon Fleet

4.    Transport

5.    Planning

6.    Community and Collaboration

7.    Biodiversity

8.    Procurement


As technology in the above areas and products evolved at a rapid pace, the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan, Action Plan and Targets would be reviewed and updated regularly.  Senior Management Team would adopt a culture of ‘carbon consideration’ and each service would embed the Carbon Reduction Plan into their service plans to become part of everyday council planning.  The Carbon Reduction Plan would become part of the ‘corporate consciousness’ and a fundamental element of the Council’s new ‘Corporate Plan’.


To enable the Council to manage, monitor and review actions and consider new ideas, a ‘Carbon Reduction’ sub group had been established and the first meeting had taken place in September 2019.  A motion presented to Council in July 2019, requesting the Council to declare a 'Climate Emergency', had been referred to the Carbon Reduction sub group for consideration.


A Member deliberated what type of local employment opportunities would be available to future generations as we moved to a more carbon neutral environment.  He felt that effective use of the former Coalite site in relation to green technology business, with a commitment from Derby and Sheffield universities to widen the local education offer within the District would in turn provide greater employment opportunities and inspire take up of higher education in the green sector.  Without this commitment the Member felt that it was uncertain how the Council could achieve its carbon neutral targets.  The Strategic Director – People replied that consumers and market forces were always the drivers for businesses to change.  For example, the David Attenborough programme Blue Planet, had influenced the public who in turn had put pressure on supermarkets to reduce plastic packaging etc.  A Member added that education in schools from Years 1 & 2 was also key and it was further noted that legislative change in some areas was needed from the Government.


In response to a Member’s query, the Strategic Director – People provided some examples of future projects the Council was looking into to reduce carbon reduction.  Battery powered technology was one idea.  If most people turned to electric cars in the future, there would be peaks in demand for electricity at certain times of the day.  Floor space was available at Pleasley Vale, which was surplus to business market demand and could be ideal space for banks of battery power packs.  Other ideas were a solar thermal cell system on the roof at the Arc to supplementary heat the swimming pool, combined heat and power and heat recovery measures (heat retention), which reduced electricity consumption in an eco-friendly way.  An electric vehicle leasing scheme for staff was also being considered.  Additional ideas would come from the Carbon Reduction Sub Group, Council staff and elected Members via the Transformation Group and also local residents.  The Strategic Director – People added that the Local Government Association (LGA) had lobbied Government and Councils’ across the country, including Derbyshire County Council, had been allocated a Carbon Budget.  Members had the voice of the people they represented and could also lobby Government via Bolsover’s MP on what was important to people in their communities. 


In response to a Member’s queries, the Strategic Director – People, replied that there could be difficulty in including parish council staff, Derbyshire County Council staff and elected Members in a District Council staff electric vehicle leasing scheme due to procurement and monopoly/Audit rules.  With regard to community liaison, the Carbon Reduction Plan included a community collaboration work stream for actions such as working with local schools and roadshow information activities for residents.  The Council’s new webpage would also include information on how individuals could reduce, re-use, recycle and rethink with a link to local businesses who offered grant schemes and products to make it easier for people to change.


Members thanked the Strategic Director – People for his informative presentation.