Agenda item

Breckland 2035 Sustainability Programme Update

To receive a presentation on the Breckland 2035 Sustainability Programme.


The Executive Member for People, Communications and Governance, Councillor Sherwood, explained that in the absence of the Head of Strategic Policy, the Executive Director, Steve James would provide the presentation. Breckland Council had spent the time required for base lining and to find out where things were as a Council to ensure the right projects were done at the right time. He felt that this had to be done with the right outside organisations and by listening to those organisations to understand what affects certain changes would have.


The Executive Director, Steve James said he was enthused and excited to be a part of this strategy and moving it forward to progress Breckland Council’s ambitions. One of which was the commitment to achieve net zero as an organisation by 2035.


The Executive Director explained the WorkSmart project which had included improvements to lighting at Elizabeth House which would result in a reduction of 24.5 tonnes of carbon per annum. He said that the team had commissioned Southeast Energy Hub to deliver a high-level analysis on both Elizabeth House and Breckland House about the viability of solar or heating options and had procured NPS Property consultants to carry out more detailed technical studies to understand whether delivery was possible on improved insulation, solar and heating options. The Executive Director said that this was important to give an evidence base and an understanding of the current position that would enable Breckland Council to deliver a pipeline of projects and bid for future grant fundings and a detailed carbon reduction plan for the operational buildings.


With regard to electric vehicles, 4 additional charging points were set to be delivered in Swaffham, at Theatre Street car park and a study had been undertaken of Breckland Council owned car parks which had identified seven potential sites for additional charging units to be installed including Elizabeth House, Breckland House and the first potential chargers in Watton. Through the Green Grants scheme Breckland Council was enabling the delivery of two charging units at Croxton Village Hall and was working with other Parish Councils to support them to deliver charging units in their Parish.


The Executive Director said that the team had worked with the Woodland Trust who had assessed 8 sites owned by Breckland Council. Five of these sites had been identified as suitable for planting trees and three of those sites were due to be delivered by the end of March 2022.


Councillor Wickerson asked for more information on the 24.5 tonnes of carbon reduction at Elizabeth House and asked how it reflected as a percentage overall which would give Members an idea of how much that had impacted the building as a whole and also asked for a list of the 5 sites that the Woodland Trust had identified.


Councillor Sherwood said he would be happy to provide the list of sites once the Towns and Parishes themselves had been informed as this was yet to happen and then the information would be released. He said he would find out the information regarding the 24.5 tonnes of carbon reduction and let Members know.


Councillor Birt said there was a difference between environmental and carbon issues, and it needed to be clear in any report. He asked if there was finance set aside within the budget to proceed with any projects identified by the report at the end of March 2022.


Councillor Sherwood said that they would be working with partners to ensure any works identified were accomplished in a timely manner.


Councillor Jermy was not clear on the partnership working and the sharing of knowledge surrounding green issues and asked to what extent district councils were working together to share ideas and projects. Also, he felt that the planting of new trees was a great idea, however the benefit would be delayed until they became more established. He enquired about the maintenance and care of existing trees, the cost and difficulty of the maintenance of trees was a concern, and he would like to see more investment put into the maintenance of existing trees.


In response, Councillor Sherwood stated that partnership work was key and explained that the partnership working that was referred to, this was an officer led group at a senior level across the County and very shortly a Members Panel across all districts would match the officers and share ideas and information. They would also invite experts with the knowledge and experience that was needed like the Woodland Trust and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust plus any other agency that it was felt necessary to assist with any projects. With regard to trees, they would be working with the Woodland Trust to understand when the time was right for maintenance or to plant new ones and also to gain their experience on what grants and volunteers were available to assist with any necessary maintenance.


Councillor Wickerson suggested Breckland Council should also work with the Forestry Commission to be aware of surrounding issues and projects and establish if Breckland Council could have any influence and work together to retain and maintain trees wherever possible.


Councillor Sherwood said that they would include the Forestry Commission within partnership working.


Councillor Turner asked if there could be some mechanism of sharing and collating information on individual schemes that were happening across the Breckland area.


Councillor Sherwood suggested that Ward Members were in a prime position to share this information and education and stated that the Breckland Council website included an interactive map that showed the Green Grants system and where the money was being invested and what projects had been completed. He suggested that this could possibly include other information and he would look into this.


Councillor Morton said that last year there had been a report from Eunomia that had contained some key actions and asked for update on one in particular which suggested communicating with neighbouring councils to assess the possibility of establishing a power purchase agreement.


The Chairman said he understood that there would be a report in March which would include all of the Breckland assets that the Council held and asked if the information would include a breakdown of the Councils carbon versus non-carbon effects of other non-methane greenhouse gases.


The Executive Member for People, Communications and Governance said he would find out this information and report back.


Members of the Commission noted the update.



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