Councillor Howard Doe, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, is going to invite the members of the board to comment on the Action Plan
5.1 The Chair invited the group to ask questions and comment.
5.2 It was noted that working with other Councils in Kent is very important as some of the work will overlap into other areas. As it is the first iteration, it was noted that there are many individuals and organisations that would want to be involved in the plan and to make an input, in particular residents in the community and Medway Champions. The group asked what the proposed timetable for wider public consultation will be.
5.3 It was confirmed that comments from Kent County Council and Kent districts will be invited via existing networks. Engagement with the wider community is the next stage and will take place this year. (00:12:00)
5.4 The group noted that as the Government have and my continue to revise their net-zero carbon targets, the plan will need to be flexible and exceed the 2050 target if possible. It was queried whether this work is being linked in with the Local Plan, in particular is the Council liaising with the developers who invest in Medway? The group also queried the ambition of reporting on emissions quarterly and how achievable this would be. (00:14:50)
5.5 Planning officers confirmed that the action plan links in with the Local Plan and policies are now coming through which will specifically address climate change and will link into new development. Some changes have already been implemented, validation requirements have now changed, and a statement submitted on climate change has to be included on all reports. Planning also advised that they have annual meetings with developers to ensure climate change is addressed and taken forward in planning applications and the Local Plan. (00:18:40)
5.6 Quarterly reporting was a recommendation from the carbon baseline assessment. The more frequently data is reported on at this stage, the more familiar the Council will get with reporting and learn from this to be able to improve the accuracy of data collection. (00:21:45)
5.7 The group asked if the Council could review the potential for solar panels on the roof space of council buildings. Also to make new buildings as carbon neutral as possible, for example can the rebuild of Splashes aim to be carbon neutral? The group also noted the action in the plan to review the potential for solar energy from Council owned car parks. The group noted that buying carbon offsets should be a last resort and we should rethink our own efforts in Medway first, for example by further increasing tree planting. (00:22:30)
5.8 The group were assured that the Council will look to include climate change in all future developments. Staff right across the Council support and embrace climate change. (00:31:00)
5.9 The group queried whether there was sufficient capacity to complete all the “Do It Now” actions and are there any obstacles to completing within this time frame. (00:34:00)
5.10 The Chair advised that every action on the “Do It Now” list was referred back to the officer with lead responsibility to confirm that they have the resources and finances to complete and if there was any doubt they were not included in this list. (00:35:00)
5.11 The group asked for assurance that the carbon impact through incineration (as waste disposal goes to landfill) will be reported on and also asked if Waste Services are looking at other ways to offset their emissions for example by increasing recycling. (00:36:00)
The Chair assured the group that work is going into increasing recycling. He also emphasised the role of wider government in facilitating more recycling. The main focus for officers will be to achieve the Do It Now actions. (00:37:45)
5.12 Waste Services officers confirmed that capturing emissions from incinerations is in the Scope 3 work phase which is starting this year and into next. Waste Services are always looking at how to increase their recycling rates and happy to discuss further with any interested members of the group outside of the meeting. (00:44:45)
5.13 The group asked how emissions from older, existing housing stock will be tackled and are there any opportunities to lobby government with other councils to ensure that retro fitting is included. The group would like to see a piece of work done on this specifically. (00:40:00)
5.14 The Chair noted this and agreed that this is one of the reasons why we are calling together Kent County Council and other Kent districts to work together. (00:41:40)
5.15 The group were notified that officers are taking climate change to our Place board meetings to encourage partners with a vested interest in Medway to take joint ownership of this agenda. There is also a role for the private sector to play in enabling people to change heating systems in their homes and we should continue to lobby government maintain focus on this. (00:43:00)
5.16 The group asked for a reporting system to assist with monitoring the “Do It Now” actions. The group also asked how many electric charging points are being implemented and how do we ensure that what is agreed with developers is done. (00:46:30)
5.17 Planning officers confirmed that it is quite difficult to monitor what has been agreed with developers but there have been changes to ensure that this happens. For example, developers now have to submit a verification report to the Council which helps to see if they have been completed. There are limited staff resources to monitor this due to sheer number of projects so the Council are reliant on developers doing what say. Despite this, approximately 95% of applications are complied with but it would be impossible to monitor every single condition. (00:48:50)
5.18 The group noted that by Summer 2021, three Council owned car parks will have EV charging points installed. We are also working on an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle strategy, not just in car parks but also on street charging provision. A Kent and Medway EV charging point network project is underway which is being led by Kent County Council and Medway Council have been a key partner in the network study. Infrastructure procurement for this ends on 17 May – 30 car parks have been put forward as potential sites. (00:51:15)
5.19 The group asked about options for tree sponsorship as some Members have had requests from residents wishing to sponsor a tree in their street. The Chair confirmed that this was being looked into.(00:54:15)
5.20 The group noted that residents have been submitting questions to Members about electric vehicles and asked what Medway are doing in terms of promoting this and answering questions. (00:57:45)
5.21 Officers advised that steady progress is being made on this and will look to promote the three sites with 34 new charge points. The group suggested that officers organise an EV exhibition in a Council owned car park to show in more detail without the pressure to buy. Officers will look into this. (01:01:55)
5.22 Members highlighted that transporting by river produces 80% less carbon than by road and asked to what extent are we engaging with marine based businesses and whether it is a gap that we need to look into? (00:59:00)
5.23 It was confirmed that aviation and shipping are now being included in emissions etc so we may have a bit of gap in terms of engaging and asked Members to share contact details with the Climate team to include in stakeholder engagement plan. (01:01:00) Action: Members to forward list of aviation and shipping contacts.
5.24 Members asked Planning officers if they know the number of applications that have conditions around car clubs. (01:04:15) Action: Planning to find out how many applications there are around car clubs and how many have been implemented.
5.25 Members asked if going forward the group could meet more regularly but for the meetings to be shorter in length and only focus on only one of two of the actions instead of covering all 11 in one meeting. (01:06:20) Action: Chair to discuss with Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive.
5.26 The group asked officers to look into the “race to zero campaign” and consider signing up to it as a Council. (01:08:30) Action: Climate team to look into and feedback to Chair.