To receive the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) Second Progress Report which outlines the progress made on the actions that were approved in July 2020 towards the target to become a net-zero carbon borough by 2030.
RECOMMENDATION: That the Council approves The Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) Second Progress Report and endorses the targets and actions for carbon dioxide emissions reduction to enable Wokingham Borough Council to play as full a role as possible in achieving a net-zero carbon borough by 2030.
The Council considered the Climate Emergency Action Plan Second Annual Report.
It was proposed by Gregor Murray and seconded by Laura Blumenthal that the recommendation within the report be agreed.
Gregor Murray stated that it had been two years since the Council had declared a Climate Emergency and set the aim of becoming a carbon neutral Borough by 2030. The annual report showed that work on reducing the carbon footprint remained a high priority. Highlights mentioned included the launch of the Help to Heat Scheme in October 2020 and the launch of the Community Energy Fund. In addition, the planning application for the first solar farm had been submitted. The school’s refit programme had begun, and the carbon neutral Dinton Pastures Activity Centre was near completion. In addition, a live trial of energy efficiency measures had begun in one of the Council’s HRA’s houses.
Gregor Murray went on to state that climate emergency would be at the heart of the Council’s Covid Recovery Plan and ‘build back greener’ would be a key message to businesses and the community. A paper was due to be taken to the Executive regarding the options for engaging the community in Climate Emergency. Gregor Murray emphasised that behaviour change was vital in order to deliver against climate change and was a key focus. Council was informed of the ‘Big Idea’, under which the Council would be working to engage local businesses, charities, and religious groups, amongst others to work on collective behaviour change initiatives under eight different areas of behaviour change.
Laura Blumenthal emphasised that the Council could not deliver a carbon neutral Borough alone, and that collaboration with residents and organisations was vital. She urged schools, businesses, churches, and charities to participate in the ‘Big Idea’. Laura Blumenthal referred to air quality and to funding secured to scale up air quality monitoring, placing more monitors around the Borough to measure particulate matter.
Sarah Kerr indicated that she had expressed frustration with the way the climate emergency agenda was progressing and how the Working Group was functioning. She stated that whilst the ambition was commendable the Plan did not go far enough and continued to be filled with questionable assumptions and predictions.
Rachel Burgess emphasised that the plan was 67kt short of what was required to achieve carbon neutrality. She felt that the Plan was not clear and that there was a continued focus on actions that would achieve only small wins in terms of carbon reduction. More ambitious actions were required.
Alison Swaddle stated that she had chaired the cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Group, which had worked effectively. She was proud of the Plan and indicated that it had been praised by subject experts.
Parry Batth highlighted further measures to help achieve carbon neutrality and referred to the forthcoming Waste Strategy.
Pauline Jorgensen highlighted work being undertaken around sustainable transport. Multiple new cycleways had been commissioned following route demand analysis work. In addition, a new park and ride had been built and a further two had been commissioned. She went on to refer to the ‘Beat the Street’ initiative and cycling challenges.
Carl Doran commented that a citizen’s assembly would help to provide more focus. He felt that many of the major targets within the Plan were overly vague.
John Kaiser stated that over the last few years, what the Council had achieved, had been curtailed through Covid.
Jim Frewin commented that he recognised that the report was a good attempt to move in the right direction.
Paul Fishwick emphasised the need for improved walking and cycling.
RESOLVED: That the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) Second Progress Report be approved and the targets and actions for carbon dioxide emissions reduction to enable Wokingham Borough Council to play as full a role as possible in achieving a net-zero carbon Borough by 2030, be endorsed.