The Environment Portfolio Holder presented a report on the work of the Green Team. She began by updating the Committee on the work being carried out to coordinate the Council’s activity to combat the effects of Climate Change and promote Biodiversity following the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency. The Environment Portfolio Holder then gave an overview of the report, first informing Members that, both in terms of overall CO2 emissions and in terms of SLDC’s own carbon footprint, emissions were falling. However emissions from transport were fluctuating and had risen again more recently. She then moved on to inform Members on the 25 point plan which aimed at dealing with a range of Climate Change related factors, including an updated policy on flood mitigation, a comprehensive energy audit and the Council’s declaration on biodiversity. The Environment Portfolio Holder concluded by informing the Committee of the actions that had already been completed and the Council’s desire to maximise green space activity across the district.
In responding to a comment on the varying results on emissions reduction, the Environment Portfolio Holder stated that it was a good idea for dual-hatted Members to discuss environmental issues at both District and County Council meetings, giving the argument that to effectively mitigate and solve the issues arising from Climate Change, there would need to be collaboration and co-operation across districts and counties. She then went on to respond to a question on dealing with idling engines across the district, particularly with commercial vehicles (bus, taxi and haulage companies) and referred to ongoing discussions before asking the Strategy Lead Specialist to provide further details. The Strategy Lead Specialist confirmed that discussions had taken place but was unsure of the impact that these discussions had made.
The Director of Customer and Commercial Services added to the responses on the impact of idling engines in Kendal and the measures that had been put in place to monitor and react to the pollution problems. He then drew attention to the fact that a steering group had been set up with Cumbria County Council and other external partners which had highlighted a number of measures to be put in place to assess and improve the air quality in Kendal and in particular within the Air Quality Management Area.
The Strategy Lead Specialist responded to a request to see specific targets put in place to monitor and reduce the usage of energy, informing Members that it was the aim of the Green Team to set such targets and the focus of work at the present time was on setting the baseline against which targets could be set.
The Environment Portfolio Holder, alongside all present, then expressed her wish to recognise the continued hard work of Officers and Members on issues surrounding sustainability and biodiversity.
The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder then responded to a question on the potential to develop a series of policies on planning to improve the sustainability of future projects. He began by informing Members that this had been discussed at various meetings with several ideas having been floated. The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder then informed Members that it was necessary to consider the impacts of new policy requirements, sustainability of buildings on the viability of development and risks to affordable housing delivery.
The Strategy Lead Specialist then responded to a question on a potential biodiversity audit to match the energy audit by informing Members that Natural England undertook a broad biodiversity survey but it would be incredibly difficult for the Council to do this in great detail. He then informed Members that the Council was in contact with Natural England amongst other organisations to monitor the biodiversity of the area.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the report be noted; and
(2) the draft Biodiversity policy attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be supported.