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Tackling climate change

On 4 March 2020 we agreed an action plan for tackling climate change.

The plan is the result of work involving local groups, experts and people from all ages coordinated by the cross-party Climate Change Task and Finish Group.

On 25 September 2019, Allerdale Borough Council agreed a motion relating to climate change and made a specific commitment to reducing carbon emissions. The full motion is attached at Appendix A.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee was requested to consider how Council could respond to the commitments in the motion and a Task and Finish Group (TFG) was set up to lead this work. The TFG met a number of times and held a workshop for external stakeholders to discuss our emerging thinking and to feed in any information they felt was relevant. The group has also considered the petition presented to the Council on 11 December 2019, which was integrated into its consideration of the motion. The list of Members of the TFG is attached at Appendix B and a report from the stakeholder workshop is attached as Appendix E.

As part of its work, the TFG received presentations on a number of different topics, including the Council’s Local Plan and Cumbria’s Joint Health Strategy. It also considered information from other local authorities (eg Stroud District Council and South Lakes District Council), as well as other bodies such as Friends of the Earth and Zero Carbon Britain. The key documents considered by the TFG are listed in Appendix D.

The Task and Finish Group make the following over-arching findings:

1. That the council secures its response to climate change through inclusion within a Portfolio Holder’s remit and with an appropriate level of dedicated officer support time.

2. That a standing Climate Change Group reporting to Executive be created to drive forward the council's response to climate change. Such a group should consist of Councillors and senior officers having the authority to direct resource to deliver any and all actions necessary with the agreement of the Portfolio Holder. This group, in consultation with the senior management team, will be responsible for policy and budgetary recommendations, assessing implications and overseeing actions to deliver the strategy and action plan (see 3, 4, 5 and 7 below). It will also be the responsibility of this group to ensure that council actions are both compliant with relevant government plans and legislation, and consistent, to avoid duplication or conflict. The group would have responsibility for creating and delivering the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and for publishing an annual report on progress. The group would involve external experts to provide advice on wider climate changeinitiatives that may be relevant to the council. All members of the current Task and Finish Group would be willing to join this group.

3. That the council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan referred to above (see proposed draft action plan at Appendix H) be updated to reflect the Joint Health Strategy  commitments, as well as the 25 September 2019 Motion (Appendix A) and the discussions that have taken place at Council, both at the September 2019 meeting when the motion was agreed and at the December 2019 meeting where the issue of climate change was further discussed. Furthermore, it will need to reflect developing Government policy in the area of climate change, in particular the Environment Bill that is currently going through Parliament. It will also need to take account of the work being taken forward by the Cumbria Chief Executives Group and Cumbria Leaders Board Climate Change Working Group (which is looking at how we make Cumbria net zero), as well as commitments made by other local authorities in Cumbria.

4. That the council’s Senior Management Team and any other officers with climate change related responsibilities should receive relevant training on how to develop climate change policy and how to embed such policy into all activities of the council. Similar training should be offered to any interested councillors or officers.

5. That a Stakeholder Engagement Plan be developed and maintained that sets out how the council will interact with and learn from groups including those representing residents, industry, climate change experts, other local authorities, central Government and young people. The Stakeholder Engagement Plan should include details of how the council will publicise its climate change activities and how those outside of the council might engage with, support and influence those activities going forward. It will also need to start from today so that stakeholders may be reassured that we take climate change seriously, that we are taking appropriate action and that they may be involved in the development of our response. Once the council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan has been created, the Stakeholder Engagement Plan should be attached and its effectiveness be reviewed as part of the annual report on progress mentioned above.

Alongside the following recommendations specific to the motion:

6. The target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 is very challenging. While we recommend it should be retained as a target and used to keep up the pressure on central Government to support our work, it is more important that the council focuses on developing and delivering a viable, sustainable response to the challenge of climate change, rather than risk becoming distracted by and possibly disheartened by, a deadline. The 2030 date should be kept under review and could possibly be revised as our understanding of what is possible improves.

7. In support of this, the council should carry out a “climate change audit” in order to help identify where the main challenges are and to inform the development of the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. The Local Authority Climate Change Policy Group (which includes representation from Allerdale Borough Council) has been developing a set of guidelines which can be used as a basis for establishing a baseline carbon footprint. This developing guidance, along with advice and guidance that is also available from Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS), should be used as the basis for the proposed audit.

8. In support of our recommendations, the council should consider what actions it can take immediately. As an example, the TFG suggests that we build on the good work that is already happening in planning policy, environmental health, and community services.

9. The council should adopt the use of a pre-validation checklist for planning applications.

10. The council should place specific emphasis on ensuring it has a sustainable procurement policy.

11. The council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan should be produced by June 2020 to allow its recommendations to feed into the next available budget cycle (for 2021/22).

12. The council should immediately include the consideration of climate change and the environment as part of the decision-making process of the council, the Executive and the Senior Management Team. All relevant reporting templates will need to be updated to reflect this additional requirement and we are pleased to note that this work is already underway.

13. There are a number of existing groups that the council participates in or supports. The effectiveness of these should be evaluated before the merits of setting up an Allerdale Partnership Climate Change Group as suggested in the motion are considered. The council will need to ensure it is satisfied that all stakeholders are kept engaged in our response to the challenge of climate change but how it does that is a matter for it and the stakeholders to decide and review on a continuing basis.

14. The council should work closely with town and parish councils across Allerdale, many of whom have already started taking action in relation to climate change.

15. Similarly, the council should work closely with the retail and other industries in order to learn from and/or influence their climate change activities.

16. The council should respond to the specific concerns of young people and address their vision for the future locally and globally.

17. The council should ensure that it continually learns from the experience of others.

18. The council should consider how best to continue to engage with the wider public, to improve their understanding of what they can do in terms of recycling and other climate change related activities and to encourage them to work with the council in order to meet the challenge of climate change. 

Councillor Nicky Cockburn – chair
Councillor Allan Daniels
Councillor Janet Farebrother
Councillor Iain Greaney
Councillor Sally Lansbury
Councillor Elaine Lynch
Councillor Alan Tyson

We recommend that it should include a maximum of eight elected members, working with relevant officers with the necessary authority to commit resource to our efforts to combat climate change. As necessary, the group would involve external experts in meetings to ensure the council was kept informed of the latest developments in this area and to allow for external scrutiny of, and input to, our proposed work programme. A key piece of work for the group would be overseeing the development of this council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and then reporting on progress to all stakeholders.

This is not a comprehensive list, nor is it in order of priority. It is simply a flavour of the information that has been brought to the attention of the Task and Finish Group as it has taken this work forward.

  • Allerdale Local Plan
  • Cumbria Joint Health Strategy
  • Friends of the Earth’s Action Plan for local authorities
  • A Carbon Baseline for Cumbria (Small World Consulting)
  • A suggested process for establishing a climate change impact baseline (Cumbria Local Authorities
  • Climate Change Policy Group)

Introduction

1. As part of its work to look at how the council could best develop a climate change strategy and action plan, the Climate Change Task and Finish Group had invited a number of external stakeholders to a workshop to discuss the group’s work to date and to input into their thinking going forward.

The Workshop

2. Councillor (Cllr) Iain Greaney opened the workshop by welcoming everyone and briefly running through the proposed agenda for the day. The workshop would be informal in nature and participants were encouraged to share their views with the Members of the Task and Finish Group who were all in attendance. Cllr Sally Lansbury took us back to the Climate Change motion adopted by full council in September 2019 and then explained the steps that were being taken to address the commitments in that motion and the proposed next steps in terms of the TFG’s Report to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and ultimately back to full council. Both Cllrs stressed the
importance of the workshop and to the need for the council to develop a genuine partnership with external stakeholders in order to be able to address the challenge of climate change.

3. Participants were then invited to introduce themselves and to highlight two or three issues or concerns that were particularly important to them. The main points raised during this session included:

  • It was positive that the council was hosting this workshop, but concern that things were not moving fast enough
  • Concern about the predicted rise in sea levels and the impact of flooding
  • The need to improve recycling, waste management and wider flood prevention measures
  • An end to road building and widening, along with an increase in the use of electric vehicles
  • Closer working with the county council to ensure the retention of existing bus services and the reinstatement of the Keswick to Penrith railway.
  • A greener internet
  • Better public education
  • Improved biodiversity and land management

4. For the second part of the workshop, the TFG had taken the thirteen climate change related themes and printed them out on to large pieces of paper, along with some suggested actions that had been identified for each area. The themes had been grouped and set out in four work stations and the participants were invited to circulate around each of the work stations, engage in discussions with representatives from the TFG and give their views on the proposed next steps as well as identifying any gaps and possible sources of information and so on. The output from these discussions is summarised below.

Planning Policies

  • More resources needed to enforce building and planning regulations
  • Use solar energy on all commercial buildings
  • Utilise wave energy and rainwater harvesting
  • Revise planning approvals to reduce carbon footprint; improve energy efficiency, insulation,
  • Use more solar on roofs; do not build on the green belt
  • Stop building near to the coast and on flood plains
  • Consider biodiversity issues as part of pre-application stage (eg hedgehog runs and swift bricks)

Management of Land

  • Inter-agency working with landowners to plant trees for flood prevention
  • Hold more meetings to talk about problems and how to solve them
  • Less grass cutting – do not cut some areas until early August to let wild flower seeds to set as this will encourage pollinating insects like bees
  • Public awareness and engagement
  • Identifying good farming practices and learning from them – spread the message
  • Slow the flow (of water) – contact the Forestry Commission
  • Promote and support methods of regenerative agriculture – agroforestry/woodland pasture/mob (rotational) grazing/less but better meat/organic methods

Built Environment

  • Reducing the felling of mature trees in housing and other building developments (replanting, not removal!)
  • Natural drainage systems – slow the flow, promote biodiversity and improve sense of wellbeing
  • See FoE Action Plan on buildings
  • Local procurement to stimulate and sustain local economy
  • Environment Agency needs to be more proactive
  • Promote more wildlife and green space in residents’ gardens
  • Visit and lobby MPs for improved planning policy and building regulations
  • When approving new buildings - avoid flood plains; prioritise data on flooding effects; only approve if proven data exists to state no impact on flooding
  • Buildings should be constructed to current eco standards. Need to ensure these are kept to via inspections – do not rely on self-regulation. Domestic Energy Use/Savings
  • Cannot afford to go easy with the climate change emergency
  • Produce an Allerdale Environmental Dashboard showing key data like energy mix, supply and demand
  • Design more green houses and give every public building solar panels
  • Who do you (council) buy your energy from?
  • Improved energy efficiency through planning – e.g. sash windows
  • Cut the cost of LED light bulbs for low income households
  • Cumbria Action for Sustainability run courses on energy efficiency in housing etc; they could help with promotion of better insulation etc
  • Council needs to audit/monitor the quality of works carried out. Solid wall insulation was badly done in many cases and nobody was held responsible
  • Home insulation grants, solar panels, revise planning policy to demand eco-housing

Reducing Paper and Printing Costs (Allerdale Borough Council internal)

  • Use less paper and use green energy for technology used during meetings
  • Examine communication systems – hard copy and digital (internally and with the public) – with the aim of reducing paper and printing costs
  • Ecosia search engine – plants trees for internet usage Waste Reduction/Recycling
  • Adopt circular economy waste policies in plans and contracts
  • Recycling bins in Allerdale offices and at events, including public spaces
  • Support schemes that promote reusable packaging like the Keswick eco-cup
  • Inform people why we need to recycle
  • Better information on bins explaining what is acceptable plastic waste
  • Repair and re-use schemes and “swaps”
  • Running all recycling waste together for integrated sorting – the technology exists – to reduce waste transport, bins for collection and improves recycling uptake
  • Recycling facilities at all public bins in the borough
  • Discourage fly-tipping by reducing the prices for collection of large waste items
  • Stop offering plastic cups in Allerdale offices
  • Kerbside self-sorted collection is only optimal when people are willing to do so
  • Council to encompass beach waste pick-ups?
  • Use more aluminium cans so that they can be smelted down and recycled as more cans or other appliances
  • Coordinate, via the website, litter clearance – there is a lot of desire to do this
  • All waste should be regarded as a potential resource
  • Promote vegan/vegetarian meals/food
  • Allerdale should look at “Fair Share” schemes in order to reduce food waste
  • Collect tetra packs and forward to Carlisle or Barrow for recycling (talk to TetraPak as they offer advice and financial support)
  • Check what is happening at Marchwood waste recycling plant (Hampshire). Large space and bring and buy area so that good reusable products do not end up in landfill

Partnerships

  • Lead by example while recognising we cannot be perfect
  • Work with leisure centre management to increase the use of solar panels

Energy Supply/Usage (Allerdale Borough Council internal)

  • Community energy
  • Ground source heat pumps/exchange and more solar and more wave energy
  • Re-use
  • www.cumbrianenergyrevolution.org.uk
  • Sort out your own house as far as energy and waste are concerned and then lead by example
  • Change to a green tariff (Good Energy and Ecotricity are two good examples)
  • Protect the most vulnerable (food poverty and resilience)
  • Use solar schemes to decarbonise energy use
  • Anaerobic digestion and biogas
  • Environmental audits of all council buildings
  • Energy Auction implications (green tariffs) – domestic and business both involved
  • Look at the FoE Action Plan

Purchasing Goods and Services (Allerdale Borough Council internal)

  • Use recyclable post-it notes and other stationery
  • Reduce meat consumption and stop using plastic cups – bring your own cup?
  • Climate change teacher in every school
  • Local procurement

Adaptation (safety and resilience)

  • Upland reforestation slows upland run-off; proactive flood and drought planning strategies; prevent groundwater flooding by comprehensive drainage management
  • Include sods in planning policies
  • Engage the Environment Agency as a partner for early warning systems
  • In work places, reduce the temperature and encourage people to wear a jumper
  • Less cutting of the grass in public areas. Do not cut some areas until late July to let wild flowers seed themselves – good for pollinators
  • Mob (rotational) grazing for farmers – increases carbon soil stocks; natural food management; reduces the need for artificial input; and improves biodiversity
  • If it is yellow, let it mellow; if it is brown, flush it down – better flushing facilities in toilets

Water

  • Environmental audit based on eco school approach – each member of staff; whole organisation approach and the council itself as an entity – leads to a list of priorities

Action Plan (this is what the UTC did)

  • Assess the potential for green roofs – bus shelters as well as buildings
  • Use of grey water
  • Re-use of washing machine water

Transport (greenhouse gases, air quality) (Allerdale Borough Council internal)

  • Cheaper or free public transport; less air travel; less long haul flights; more electric charging points in car parks
  • Car clubs
  • Roll out pool bicycle scheme to include cars and then roll out a car pooling/sharing scheme to the public (parish/town councils)
  • Improve joined up public transport infrastructure/electricity fleet
  • Virtual meetings (need improved broadband for this)
  • Protect the most vulnerable as they are the least resilient
  • Replace Allerdale’s vehicles with electric ones
  • Install a dedicated full time climate change officer

Raising Awareness

  • Suggest this theme is renamed Marketing Strategy for Climate Change Awareness – improving involvement and contributions
  • Climate change teacher in every school
  • 80 per cent of people are very concerned, so awareness is already there
  • Need a dedicated Member and Officer
  • Proactive messages – local TV; Ads/Articles in local publications; Twitter; website; radio; Allerdale Services leaflet; re-use campaigns; talks and courses from partners; explore incentives (there are savings to be made/refill schemes/reduce rubbish)
  • Share waste figures and energy use
  • Use more social media

And finally

5. The last part of the workshop allowed participants to share any final thoughts about the day. It& was agreed that while it had been a positive workshop, time was running out and we really needed to build on the good conversations that had been started and move forward. Cllr Greaney confirmed that everyone would receive a copy of the report from the workshop and be kept informed as the work was taken forward. There was also agreement that similar workshops/events would be held in the future in order to keep people informed and to hold the council to account for its actions. Finally, Cllr Greaney thanked everyone for giving up their time to attend and hoped they would continue to support the council’s efforts in this important area.

List of Attendees

  • Julia Robinson (West Cumbria Rivers Trust
  • Jill Perry (Green Party)
  • Terence Sloan (Sustainable Keswick)
  • Joe Human (Sustainable Keswick)
  • Fiona Heslam (Energy UTC), plus two students Nick and Deacon
  • Steve Irving
  • Ruth Balogh (Friends of the Earth/Climate Emergency West Cumbria)
  • Jack Lenox (Green Party)
  • Cllr Nicky Cockburn
  • Cllr Sally Lansbury
  • Cllr Iain Greaney
  • Cllr Alan Tyson
  • Cllr Allan Daniels
  • Cllr Elaine Lynch
  • Cllr Janet Farebrother
  • Ian Hinde (Officer, Allerdale Borough Council)
  • Richard Griffin (Officer, Allerdale Borough Council)

During the course of the TFG’s work a number of climate change related training providers have been brought to our attention.

No work has been done to establish which provider is the best or which course best fits the needs of the council but the links to the websites of those concerned are below for ease of reference.

  • Centre for Alternative Technology (Zero Carbon Britain)
  • Cumbria Action for Sustainability
  • Ashden (Local Authority Climate Change Toolkit)

How did this come about?

Allerdale Borough Council is committed to doing what we can to tackle climate change by reducing our CO2 emissions and taking a lead in our communities.

On 25 September 2019 the Council agreed a motion which outlined this commitment. This motion agreed by councillors pledged to reduce carbon emissions, both as an organisation and a Local Planning Authority. The motion was tabled and approved at the full council meeting also made the commitment to sign up - and go further than - the UK100 Agreement, a pledge to shifting to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.

The council's Overview and Scrutiny committee was also requested to consider, within the next six months, how the council could:

  • Work with partners in local sustainability organisations and parish, town and county councils to help to deliver this goal through strategies, plans and shared resources
  • Pledge to make Allerdale carbon neutral by 2030 where it does not negatively impact on our communities
  • Call on Government to provide the policy changes & funding to make the 2030 deadline possible
  • Report to full council with the actions the council will take to address this emergency, within six months, in time for their recommendations to be funded in the next budget cycle
  • Establish an ethical procurement framework to ensure suppliers reduce their carbon footprint.

The scrutiny committee will also consider the following actions:

  • Ensure that political and chief officer leadership teams embed this work in all areas of the Council Plan and take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the council’s activities, ensuring that any recommendations are fully costed and that the Executive and Scrutiny functions review council activities taking account of production and consumption emissions and produce an action plan within six months, together with budget actions and a measured baseline;
  • Request that Scrutiny consider the impact of climate change and the environment when reviewing council policies and strategies;
  • Work with, influence and inspire partners across the district, county and region to help deliver this goal through all relevant strategies, plans and shared resources by developing a series of meetings, events and partner workshops;
  • Set up an Allerdale Partnership Climate Change group, drawing on expertise from councillors, residents, young citizens, climate science and solutions experts, businesses, skills providers, Cumbria Action for Sustainability, Sustainable Keswick and Riversmeet and other relevant parties. The group will consider strategies and actions being developed by the council and other partner organisations and develop a borough-wide strategy in line with a target of net zero emissions by 2030, engaging other anchor institutions and SMEs. It will also recommend ways to maximise local benefits of these actions in other sectors such as employment, health, agriculture, transport and the economy;
  • Request that the council and partners take steps to proactively include young people in the process, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future;
  • Ensure that all reports in preparation for the 2020/21 budget cycle and Investment Strategy will take into account the actions the council will take to address this emergency;
  • Add the voice of Allerdale Borough Council to the calls on the UK Government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible;
  • In recognition of the seriousness of the financial constraints that the council faces, and the expectation that both the development and implementation of many measures above are likely to be contingent on securing significant additional extra funding, that the borough’s local MPs be called upon to ensure that central government provides the powers, resources and funding to make this possible, and that council writes to them to seek their commitments;
  • Consider other actions that could be recommended (but are not restricted to): low carbon energy production and storage, providing electric vehicle infrastructure and encouraging the use of electric vehicles within the fleet, workforce and wider community, integrating low carbon technologies into operational assets and projects, increasing the efficiency of buildings, prioritising these measures for housing to address fuel poverty; proactively using our local planning powers to accelerate the delivery of net carbon new developments and communities, coordinating a series of information and training events to raise awareness and share good practice;
  • Where needed, officer reports to the council Executive and full council contain impact assessments on climate change that include Carbon Emission Appraisals, including presenting alternative approaches which reduce carbon emissions where possible.