Agenda item

Breckland Sustainability Strategy (Standing Item)

To receive a verbal update from Executive Member for Customer Engagement and Member Champion for Breckland Sustainability Strategy, Councillor Ian Sherwood.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Customer Engagement presented highlights to Members on some initiatives that had been announced by the Chancellor recently.  Whilst more information would follow, he had tasked Officers to consider how Breckland could benefit and feature as part of the climate action.  The Schemes included:

-        £2 billion Green Homes Grant,

-        £1 billion over the coming year for a Public sector decarbonisation scheme, 

-        £40 million in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund

-        Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

 

At a local level, Breckland Council had been taking steps to create more bee friendly habitats across the district by leaving some verges and land to grow wild, where safe to do so, allowing population of bees and other insects to boost their numbers.

 

As part of the Council’s new Local Plan policies advice for developers included the use of bird boxes and bee or swift bricks into housing plans to boost the districts biodiversity.

 

The Executive Member had attended a positive meeting with the Woodland Trust and had learnt about canopy cover. Canopy Cover looked at what was already within the District, which was built into a sustainable future by caring for what was already in the District.

 

The Council was currently requesting quotes from organisations to undertake a carbon audit of the organisation to help develop a carbon management plan that would help to reduce the carbon footprint as an organisation, and understand how the Council could encourage residents and businesses to improve their carbon footprint too.

 

The Executive Member was pleased to announce that Breckland Council would also be making a switch to green energy that would significantly reduce the organisational carbon footprint and would come into effect from the 1 October 2020. 

 

The Executive Member for Contracts and Assets had already tasked the commercial team where they could add to the environmental initiatives that had been announced by the Chancellor and would work closely with Councillor Sherwood to do everything it could to encourage the commercial portfolio to be as environmentally friendly as they could be.

 

Councillor Atterwill welcomed what the Executive Member had said regarding the nest boxes and the initiative to help the bees and asked the Executive Member for Planning that when planning conditions were granted through the permission given if the conditions would be monitored to ensure the developers complied with the conditions. 

The Executive Member for Planning confirmed that he would arrange for a written response to be sent to Councillor Atterwill. 

 

Councillor Eagle asked that since Breckland had such a diverse area, including some rare species he would like to see other Councils follow Breckland’s lead on the sustainability strategy.  The Executive Member for Customer Engagement agreed and also felt it important that the Council got the policy right which was why the audit was taking place that included speaking to the experts to ensure it had a full picture of the diverse area that Breckland covered. 

 

Councillor Morton was pleased to note that a carbon audit would be undertaken and looked forward to the information being shared.  He felt disappointed that a year had passed since the Council declared a climate emergency but had only just changed to green energy, which he commended the Council for but felt this could have been done sooner.  The Executive Member for Customer Engagement responded stating that he was aware how passionate Councillor Morton was about the green agenda and explained that the electricity could only be changed once the yearly tariff was due which fell in October.  Three months’ notice had to be given, which was why a decision had been made in June to change to green electric.

 

Councillor Clarke was supportive of what had been announced as part of the green agenda, and said that during the COVID-19 pandemic there had been less travel, and was aware that pollution levels had fallen.  He asked what the Council was doing with regard to information that was received as part of air quality and whether it highlighted where the Council would need to put in additional monitoring.  He gave an example where it would be useful when purchasing a property to show the pollution levels, especially with those who had respiratory conditions. Councillor Clarke said he would be happy for a written response to this question.  The Executive Member for Customer Engagement said he along with the Executive Member for Environmental and Public Protection would provide a written response.