Venue: On Teams
Contact: Marion Phillips, Climate Response Support Officer
Welcome and Apologies
1.1 The Chair welcomed everyone, and apologies were noted from Cllr Gulvin.
1.2 Officer apologies were noted from the Head of Planning, substituted by the Strategic Infrastructure Planner, and the Head of Youth Service.
1.3 Cllr Maple and Cllr Tranter noted that they would need to leave the meeting early.
Technically, Councillors are only required to declare interests at meetings of the Council, the Cabinet, or Committees and Sub Committees, Joint Committees or Joint Sub Committees. However, it is best practice to follow the rules on declaring interests at other informal meetings as well. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 3.
2.1 The Chair requested declarations of interest. None were received.
3.1 The Chair referenced the actions from the last meeting paper and asked the group for any matters arising. None were received.
Main Meeting Theme: Planning
4.1 The Chair introduced the main meeting theme of Planning and invited the Strategic Infrastructure Planner to present.
4.2 The Strategic Infrastructure Planner gave a presentation on climate change and the planning system.
4.3 The Chair asked in relation to the Future Homes Standard, if developers are starting to meet the standards in advance of the mandatory 2025 date. It was noted that the changes to Parts F and L of the current building regulations took place in 2021 to ensure the supply chain is better placed for the construction industry to be able to meet the standards from 2025 onwards. There may be examples where exclusive developments are already seeking to meet 2025 standards, but the Strategic Infrastructure Planner was not aware of any schemes.
4.4 The Chair asked with regard to the addition of the Climate Change Statement to the validation checklist in 2021, if permissions rely on meeting all the requirements noted. The Strategic Infrastructure Planner noted that the statement forms an important part of the planning application process. added that the list of items are aspects a Climate Change statement should consider, with not all aspects relevant to every application.
4.5 In relation to sustainable drainage, a best practice example was shared of a retrofit scheme in a social housing estate in Hammersmith and Fulham that also addressed a number of other challenges. The Chair noted that it was a very usable example that could be reviewed in connection to Medway Council refurbishment projects.
4.6 The group asked if best practice such as this is being shared with developers as an example of what we would like to see. which have been turned into opportunities to address a wider range of issues. In relation to needing developers to embrace these opportunities, it was noted that in the recent meeting with major developers, they responded positively to the discussion around opportunities and expectations around future developments. The Chair also noted that the developers were very positive and realise that these are good selling points.
4.7 In relation to heat network opportunities, the Chair noted developers concerns about current supply chain issues on the repair and maintenance of advanced systems.
4.8 The Chair gave thanks to the Strategic Infrastructure Planner for their presentation and requested that itbe shared with Medway Development Company (MDC) and the Head of Housing.
ACTION: The Strategic Infrastructure Planner to share presentation.
4.9 The group gave thanks for the presentation and raised how it was important to note that no council could go beyond the Building Regulations for commercial reasons as otherwise developers wouldn’t be competitive and so for this reason it is unlikely that changes will push significantly ahead in advance.
4.10 The group asked if information to explain the work being undertaken by Planning on climate change could be made available online, ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Comms and Engagement
5.1 The Chair invited the to present on Communications and Engagement, introducing the Junior Account Manager whose role is to support Front Line Services communications.
5.2 The Chair noted that the recruitment process to replace the Climate Engagement Officer is being taken forward.
5.3 The and the Junior Account Manager presented on communications and engagement undertaken over the last three months and upcoming plans.
5.4 A member of the group asked if there will be climate emergency messaging within the information that goes out with Council tax bills this year and noted that the Council should be communicating any plans it was developing around the national No Mow May initiative aimed at residents own gardens and green spaces.
5.5 The group also highlighted the national Plant Based Treaty campaign, that elected members have been receiving several emails on, noting that Haywards Heath Town Council have pledged to this treaty and asking if we are aware of any other Council’s that have signed up and what communications have been made around this.
5.6 The Chair noted in relation to ‘No Mow May’ that the Council’s position is to have the right approach to maintaining grasslands throughout the whole year and noted how the ‘No Mow May’ approach led to problems with cutting immediately afterwards. With regard to the Plant Based Treaty, the line being taken in Council communications is on the choices available, avoiding dictating but helping ensure people are fully informed.
5.7 The noted that the Medway Food Partnership, and the Climate Change subgroup which sits beneath this, has had correspondence on the Plant Based Treaty. The subgroup’s current focus is on the ‘Every Mouthful Counts’ toolkit produced for local authorities which helps identify where big emission savings can be made through food and supporting the Council’s application to the Sustainable Food Places award. The will investigate if other districts have signed up to the Plant Based Treaty or if any are planning to do so but noted that Medway is not currently planning to sign up, with the subgroup focusing on taking a strategic approach around food systems.
5.8 A member of the group noted a different view on No Mow May. The group asked if the Medway Food Partnership subgroup work, and recommendation on Plant Based Treaty, could be shared with elected members.
ACTION: to investigate other districts that have signed up to the Plant based treaty and share findings with elected members.
ACTION: Climate Response Officer to co-ordinate a written update on the Medway Food Partnership subgroup work.
5.9 In relation to an earlier comment, the Assistant Director of Frontline Services confirmed that information on waste, recycling and climate response is included with the upcoming council tax letter. The Chief Information Officer also noted the recent introduction of an e-billing option for Council Tax and how envelopes will have messaging about this to encourage ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
· Procurement Update
· Partnership Working Document, Appendix 1
6.1. The Chair requested any comments on the update on the action plan, noting the impressive amount of work taking place across the council and the Partnership Working document, which will be presented at the next meeting.
6.2. A member of the group noted that the Rainham Anti-Idling signs were still not up and requested a further update. The Chair noted the slow progress of this project and also the wild verge signs.
6.3. The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager updated on the timeline for the Rainham Anti Idling Project, noting a delay to the start as a result of the displacement of traffic through Rainham due to roadworks elsewhere which would have impacted on the project. There has been detailed work undertaken with the University of Kent, the funding has now been received from DEFRA and there has been engagement with the local community through local groups and workshops, recruitment and training of volunteers, and work with secondary schools on community messaging. It was noted that it was not possible for work to commence on the project before funding was received and signs could not be put up earlier due to the impact this would have on this study of behaviour changes. The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager offered to provide further details outside the meeting.
6.4. The group noted that further road closures were planned and it was confirmed that these will not delay the project any further. The Chair asked if the signs can be in place by the end of March as the public cannot see anything happening. The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager noted that before signs can be installed, volunteers need to be trained and baseline work undertaken, following which there will be four monitoring days with different signs. It was noted that installing signs now would prevent both engagement with the community and the university study.
6.5. The group noted their frustrations on the time taken and the Chair asked for a sign to go up at the earliest opportunity. noted that the delays were around landing the funding for the project and the process that needs to be followed for the study. Timelines around the project will be shared with Members with the aim to make these as aggressive as they can be and gave reassurance that further road closures will not affect the timelines further as funding received has to be spent within a certain timescale.
ACTION: The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager to share detailed timelines for the project with Members.
6.6. The Chair noted that we need to show the public that something is happening.
6.7. noted that the wild verge signs also need to be installed and the Chair asked for these by the end of March.
6.8. The Chair invited the Head of Category Management to present. The Head of Category management presented a procurement update. ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
· MEAN Statement
7.1. The Chair drew attention to the statement from the Medway Environment Action Network (MEAN) on measuring overall carbon outputs, noting it is encouraging that they agree with what we are doing and that we are grateful for their support.
7.2. The Chair noted a case of wood burning fires causing distress to those with asthma. There is work going on at the national level on this and we need to look at what action we should be taking locally such as how we might need to toughen up the action plan or consider through planning. Not only climate pollution but also the impact on air quality.
ACTION: Environmental Protection team to provide a briefing paper on wood burning fires for July meeting
7.3. The Head of Regulatory & Environmental Services noted that any concerns about wood burning stoves can be addressed through the Noise and Nuisance team and how Trading Standards are also looking at timber for sale due to new DEFRA standards on water content.
7.4. The Chair asked for any other comments, none were received.
Date of next meeting
8.1 The Chair confirmed the date of the next meeting as 27th July 2023 at 5pm.