Agenda item

Update on Action Plan

A short presentation will be given by the Climate Response Team


4.1       The Climate Response Officer and the Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager gave a presentation on key areas of progress on the action plan to date.

4.1       The 2019-20 carbon emissions assessment has now been completed and this identified a 13.2% reduction in carbon emissions across our estate and operations, against the previous year, which was also the baseline year for all future emission reports. This reduction was primarily achieved through decarbonisation of the UK electricity grid.  Emissions reports for 2018/19 and 2019/20 will be added to the council website as part of the website refresh. 2020/21 data is currently being collated and will be reported to Cabinet next year.

4.1       An allocation of £75,000 from the Modern Medway Fund allowed the Climate Response team to recruit two new members of staff into the positions of Support Officer and Engagement Officer. Two interns from the University of Kent were also hosted during the summer, one of whom was successful in their application for the position on Climate Response Engagement Officer.

4.1       A Councillor briefing session was held during October to provide members with an overview of their sphere of influence on the climate emergency. The session was attended by 20 members and was positively received

4.1       The team hosted an intern for 12 weeks during the Summer who carried out a review of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and an audit of the Climate Change Action Plan.  Their findings will be incorporated into the refresh of the Climate Change Action Plan in the new year.  Also recently presented to students at the University of Kent on the development of the action plan. Very positive engagement, with requests to attend future seminars and further opportunities for student placements.

4.1       An update was given on social value measures that have recently been introduced. There is now a Category Management mandate on social value and as a minimum all bidders are asked to make a commitment to a reduction in tonnes of CO2 equivalent. A draft social value policy has been produced. Once finalised training will be rolled out to assist responsible officers to achieve positive outcomes. Further input and suggestions are welcomed from the group to be taken to the Head of Category Management.

ACTION – The Chair asked to Climate Response Officer to share the draft policy with the group.

4.1       Continued roll out of the Highway Street Lighting LED replacement programme with 68% of lanterns now LED.

4.1       Phase 1 of the Re-fit program, to improve energy efficiency across 11 council owned buildings, started in October.  Solar panels have been installed at Gillingham Library and work has started on Lordswood Library.  Future works include the install of LEDS at Gun Wharf, heat pumps at the Brook Theatre and Gillingham, Lordswood and Wigmore libraries.

ACTION: Energy and Carbon saving stats were provided on a slide and will be shared with the minutes.

4.1       The Council delivered their first Electric Vehicle Event in September.  Due to the success, it is anticipated that this will be an annual event.

4.1       34 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across 3 council owned car parks using funding from the Office of Zero Emissions Vehicles.  Feedback has been received from the operator, Connected Kerb, that uptake has been good and positive press coverage has been released. The Chair asked about mapping of EV points available in Medway, including those in developments.

ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer to ensure further promotion of the Zap Map and ensure it is up to date.

4.1       Officers have continued to work with KCC on the Kent 600 project.  This will involve a consistent network of EV charging points; in approximately 30 public car park locations within Medway and around 150 countywide.  Feasibility studies have been completed, with Cabinet approval now in place. Lease terms are currently being discussed.

4.1       Responses to the EV survey have now reached 318. Medway’s EV Strategy is due to go to Cabinet by the end of this financial year for consideration.

4.1       A brief update on the recent EV trial for Social Workers was given.  Unfortunately, due to COVID and poor uptake from social worker staff due to delivering the service in different ways during the pandemic, the demand for EVs was not as high as anticipated.  The manufacturer also recalled some vehicles, and this presented an opportunity to review the project in September 2021 to gain better value from the pilot.  The Business Change Team agreed to retain three of the original vehicles and switch the other three for vehicles to be used by the Environmental Services Team, at no additional cost to the project. Both respective services had use of the vehicles until the end of the 12-month pilot in mid-November 2021.  The effectiveness of the pilot will now be reviewed and a presentation of the findings, and future options will be presented to the next Transformation Board in early 2022

ACTION: Head of Business Change to share findings with the group following Transformation Board

4.1       The Chair asked if for every vehicle the council now intends to buy, if EVs are considered first rather than further petrol/diesel vehicles.  The Assistant Director of Frontline Service confirmed this was the case where possible.  Many vehicles are leased, and it is the intention to review each time the lease comes up.

ACTION: Head of Category Management to ensure EVs are considered for all new vehicles bought or leased

4.1       The Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager updated on further achievements to date including planning permission for Cockham Community Parkland, Riverside Source Heat Pumps study underway, a heat district network feasibility study for the Ho Peninsula and Strood has been completed, 17 installs completed under the Solar Together Kent scheme, cost options received for fully traceable green supply of electricity, Draft Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy will be published in alignment with the Local Plan, £740 donated to the Medway Tree Fund since Nov. 2020. This autumn, 47 new tree standards and more than 30 tree whips will be planted supported by contributions from Medway volunteers and the Medway Tree Fund. The Medway Tree Strategy is at a draft stage.  The Chair advised that we hope to be able to bid again for further trees.

ACTION: Greenspace and Access Programme Manager to update on findings in relation to potential tree funding.

4.1       The Climate Response Team supported the launch of the Medway Food Partnership and there is a Climate Change subgroup.

4.1       Medway Remakery was launched which allows for upcycling and repair. Medway Adult Education are also running online courses including eco wrapping courses in December.

4.1       21 Medway Businesses have made 72 environmental pledges include recycling, car sharing and reducing work place energy usage.

4.1       A Climate Response School survey has been developed and sent to all schools with the aim to celebrate work undertaken and address challenges faced.

4.1       An update was given on current funding sources to help deliver the action plan. This included approved internal funding such as the Re:fit Capital Programme, external grant funding successfully awarded including DFT Capability Fund to support active travel, the Levelling up fund to provide cultural and creative work spaces in Chatham through repurposing and renovations of three historical buildings; Clear Channel funding via bus shelter contract, options for funding include considering a green living wall and bus stop with living roof.

4.1       Potential external funding opportunities for which we await the outcome include a bid via the Net Zero Innovation Fund, in collaboration with University of Kent, to undertake workshops with landlords to uncover understanding of and planning for net zero. Findings will be disseminated and feed into academic publications and practical case studies.

4.1       Two bids have been submitted to the Phase 3 Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme; one for £3.2 million to install heat pumps in our corporate estate and another for just over £900,000 to install measures for decarbonising Fairview primary school 

4.1       A bid has been submitted via the DEFRA Air Quality Grant programme for a project, in conjunction with the University of Kent, to reduce idling in the Rainham AQMA through the use of signage.

4.1       A further bid has also been submitted for funding to carry out a comprehensive taxi and private hire ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) feasibility study (ULEV), looking at the barriers and opportunities for ULEV uptake by the trade in Medway, which will be supported by a remote sensing vehicle emissions measurement campaign 

4.1       The Climate Response team continue to keep an eye on funding opportunities as they arise, particularly in light of COP26.

4.1       The Chair invited questions from the group.

4.1       The group raised in relation to EV charging points, residents who have got in touch who live in terraced housing where there are no options for off-street charging. Reassurance requested that attention will be given to those residents. One or two parking spaces could be forgone for those residents.

4.1       The group also commented that many properties in Medway are over 20 years old and in desperate need for more energy efficient solutions, what is the council’s strategy to encourage energy efficient households?

4.1       Officers advised on emissions that this will be picked up by the Housing team.  If properties are owned there may be grants available for upgrades.  We promote these such as Solar Together Kent, a joint buying scheme.  The team is actively looking for grants available to promote to residents for example there was a recent one for changing boilers.

4.1       The Chair added a similar exercise is taking place with own council housing stock, looking to make improvements to bring all properties up to Grade C EPC rating. For house building, want to see more eco properties but a difficult balance due to cost.

4.1       The group asked for a link to advice on the Climate pages of the webpage for people to pick up.

ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer to ensure climate webpage updates includes a link to advice

4.1       The group commented that a large proportion of housing in Medway might not be suitable for heat pumps due to the insulation issue.  Need fairly robust advice and guidance on this for people, to safeguard residents.

ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer and Head of Strategic Housing to ensure provision of robust advice and guidance on heat pumps

4.1       The group raised that in central Chatham and other parts, where there is a lot of new development, can it be ensured that where possible the same car club is operating and that these clubs are pushing issue of electric cars. Can we make this a default expectation?

ACTION: Head of Planning to confirm default expectations on car clubs

4.1       On tree funding, councillor colleagues have donated significant amounts from Ward Improvements Funds.  Can this be included in the figure of funding for tree planting.

ACTION: Climate Response team to include figures on Ward Improvement Funds contributed for tree planting.

4.1       There are complications around s106 payments and improving public transport. Would like confidence that Arriva get this, not just for improving their fleet but also looking at new routes such as the peninsula.  Use s106 to build a network and if need council subsidised bus services, ensure that there is joined up thinking. Colleagues from all sides have raised this. The Chair commented on the need to make sure this is translated to the planning side.

4.1       The Head of Transport and Parking took on board the groups points, it is very important new developments have access by public transport. There is a dedicated officer to look at applications on this. A dedicated bus improvement plan now also produced, which sets out the framework for how to develop and improve the bus network.  Next spring, we will be looking to enter enhanced partnership with bus service.

4.1       The Chair commented that you see a lot of empty buses and if there is a way to look at schemes coming forward like dial-a-ride which may well be a 21st Century approach to buses. The Head of Transport and Parking commented that a demand and response service has been discussed for many years and been successful in other areas but it is worth noting when seeing empty buses that we are still recovering from the impact on the pandemic.

4.1       The group referenced the existence of Zap Map, a free app and a very good map which details EV locations, which can be used, and which already has the new EV points included.

4.1       The group referenced Cockham County Park planning permission with only two electric charging point. Clarity was requested on the response on only 4 charge points for 90 parking spaces. The response focuses on walking yet providing so many parking spaces. The amount of charge points should reflect the number of spaces, not who is expected to travel there.

ACTION – Assistant Director of Frontline Services to raise with Head of Regeneration.

4.1       The group highlighted the government announcement on new legislation on new housing having charging points.  We need to future proof for this in our car parks to be prepared for number of EVs on road.

4.1       On item 15, natural capital calculations, the group commented on the idea of the state of nature for Kent and Medway as a whole. Can we go alone rather than waiting for wider area. Produce our own natural capital calculations independently? The Chair requested that we look at this.

ACTION: Greenspace and Access Programme Manager to review and feedback on the implications of this suggestion

4.1       The group asked about air quality management and monitoring at Four Elms Hill and when will it be up and running so we can get data and see the impact of new housing?  The Environmental Protection Manager commented in relation to on Environmental Protection team’s monitoring only that there is currently monitoring with 4 tubes that have been in place for 4-5 years. This was why the area was declared an air quality management area. Monitored every month and the area is still exceeding. Just produced the annual status report on the Kent air website in last two weeks. Also producing an air quality action plan for Four Elms Hill which will go out to consultation in January.

ACTION: Climate Response and Environmental Protection Manager to forward a copy of the annual status report on air quality to Cllr Curry

4.1       The group asked about the issue of green and blue hydrogen being looked at.  Would like to see more on this and which route is best to go down. The Chair advised that he attended a hydrogen conference. Two outstanding issues, major gas supply for country comes in at Medway where it is converted to hydrogen based gas (convert pipework to plastic). There are three sorts of hydrogen, grey, blue and green. Grey from industrial processes takes too much to be produced. Recommendation is currently that a mix of blue and green may be the answer. The universities including UCL are developing the project, encouraged by the government. 

ACTION: CR Team to link up with Simon Barnes at the University of Kent with regard to Hydrogen based gas – to be briefed, keep up to date and inform the public. 

4.1       It was noted that hydrogen gas being manufactured in Medway could bring jobs and employment too. The Chair advised he would talk to Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive about the opportunity.

ACTION: Request for Assistant Director of Frontline Services to also speak to Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive about the opportunity

4.1       The group highlighted a very good presentation from the Head of Housing on HRA’s next phase on building, one of which will be carbon neutral. This example and how it was achieved should be shared with SMEs and in the public domain. The Chair commented on a draw down grant that funded this however the Government has to be prepared to put further funding forward as it is currently economically very difficult to construct and market at affordable prices.

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