3.1. The Chair shared progress on the action plan over its first year and an infographic was displayed on key progress. The Chair emphasised how the action plan is a working document and the importance of input from all members of the community. It was noted that several actions are now fully embedded into core duties but will still be monitored.
3.2. Comments were invited from the group on the refreshed action plan.
3.3. The group welcomed the necessary ambition of the plan and highlighted how it will need to continue to evolve as more is learnt and technology improves. Specific comments made were as follows,
3.4. A member of the group confirmed that the Cathedral group was no longer running and to remove it from the action list.
ACTION – Climate Response Team to remove from MAG action list
3.5. The group welcomed actions addressing the tendering system and advised that they would like to hear more about this in due course.
ACTION – Category Management to present an update to the group in future – format to be agreed.
3.6. The group commented that the improvements in cycling were encouraging but that there is still much to do. In particular in terms of advice and support to get into cycling and further cycle storage.
ACTION – Sustainable Transport team to speak with public health around a cycling advice campaign and including secure cycle storage in future funding bids.
3.7. The group asked for clarification on how the significant reduction in landfill tallies with the relatively low recycling rates. The Head of Climate Response and Environmental Services commented that Medway’s landfill rates are exceptionally low. Recycling rates have stagnated at 42-46% depending on the level of green waste. The stagnation is a national problem and has also been impacted by the pandemic. The final outcome of the Environment Act could have significant changes on the way waste is handled across the UK and pressure has been put on DEFRA from the Southeast Leaders Group to tackle raising rates.
3.8. A member of the group noted disappointment at not seeing ‘No Mow May’ this year. The Chair advised that a more naturalised approach to support ecology was being taken throughout the year rather than for just one month.
3.9. The group welcomed a new action (4.4) on pensions and working with Kent County Council (KCC) on investments but asked for more detail on what these conversations might look like. The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Place advised that KCC administer the pension scheme for all Local Authorities in Kent. We are working closely with them on our Climate Change ambitions and this action is to support directing pension funds into the green agenda.
3.10. In relation to the comments on cycling, the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Place highlighted that making allocations for external funding is an important aspect of work being undertaken.
3.11. The group asked for the funding column in the action plan to include detail of capital funding obtained for 2022-23 such as the £12 million for Re-fit programme. The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Place requested the inclusion of the £11 million LED programme.
ACTION – Climate Response Team to amend action plan to reflect funding received.
3.12. The group noted how the development at Splashes fits under action 5.1 to ensure energy efficiency of future buildings. Also 5.1.5 exploring emission reductions at the Medway tunnel, with a project going forward to put bumps in the approach road on the Strood side. The Vehicle compression could supply energy to support tunnels need.
3.13. The group queried an action to submit a bid for additional funding for the river source heat pump. The Head of Capital projects confirmed that this was a bid for the next stage.
3.14. The group commented that although there were frustrations with a perceived lack of progress on Climate Change in the early days, over the last 6-12 months it is recognised that there has been a noticeable change in the pace of delivery.
3.15. The group considered the priorities identified for the next year to generally be the rights ones. Most importantly, at a strategic level, to identify the measures that will make the most significant difference to the carbon footprint and to make sure there is the finance and resource in place to deliver those changes, an ongoing concern that will need support from central government to deliver.
3.16. The group advised that there is a need to look at how we influence our communities across Medway, and support business and organisations on reducing carbon emissions.
3.17. The group commented with regard to tree planting that there is a need to look at overall performance and report on trees lost each year to understand the impact. The Chair updated that a funding bid is being submitted to replace lost street trees and the aim is to be in a place where all lost trees are replaced.
3.18. The group highlighted the importance of making sure that EV charge points are operational and in use by the community.
Action – Sustainable Transport Team to monitor the use of EV charge points.
3.19. The Chair commented that we are beginning to spread influence and the aim is to continue conversations with the public and incorporate conversations with business is a prime focus.
3.20. The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Place commented on the importance of engaging others in the climate agenda and how local businesses do want to embrace the agenda.
3.21. A member of the group commented in relation to the earlier point that cycle security is needed, not just at the train stations but also at parks. Charging for electric bikes was discussed but it was considered not as critical as car charge points. It was noted that the Zap Map measures the use of charge points and some in Rainham have not been used for a month. The importance of understanding the use of charge points was highlighted.
3.22. The group welcomed the receipt of funding for the anti-idling project for Rainham although it was noted that the time taken was frustrating. The Chair commented on the importance of getting the principals of anti-idling across to children. It was highlighted that the anti-idling issue is not just about signs but about the whole package including education and that there is now funding to work with schools.
3.23. The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Place gave apologies for the time taken but highlighted that this was based around securing the funding and it can now be progressed.
3.24. With regard to cycling and walking to school, the group mentioned air quality problems and idling cars outside of schools which needs addressing urgently. It was noted that the walking bus has not been seen for some time, but the Chair confirmed they are still running. The group commented that ultimately a green clean public transport system is needed to discourage car use. It was also noted that EVs are very expensive and not all can afford. The Chair advised that bus companies are onboard with making improvements and retired busses are replaced with greener versions. A bid submitted for funding last year was not successful but new opportunities will continue to be sought.
ACTION – Sustainable Transport team to check on walking bus schemes, in particular in Strood north and follow up with Cllr Van Dyke.