Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder introduced the report which referred to the Council having declared a Climate Emergency and having a target to achieve a zero carbon Cumbria by 2037. As well as looking at the Council’s own operations, activities and sphere of influence, achieving this target also involved commissioning work with communities and businesses to ensure that everyone played their part in meeting the target. Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) was a locally based organisation with strong expertise both in carbon reduction and in working with communities and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. CAfS had worked with the Council for many years on carbon reduction and sustainability initiatives.
The report sought authorisation for continued funding for a further two years. The outcome of the funding would enable CAfS to deliver an exemplar project to achieve a zero carbon Ambleside, including measures to help both businesses and residents reduce their carbon footprint. The proposal also included measures to disseminate knowledge across South Lakeland. In assisting Ambleside to become Carbon neutral, the proposal would have direct benefits in terms of carbon reduction and would put in place experience and learning for others which, in combination, would make a significant contribution to achieving District, County and national carbon reduction targets.
The report provided details regarding the previous funding agreement and what has it had delivered. The Council had funded CAfS since 2014, and the most recent agreements for the period 2018 to 2020 had been for £50,000 per annum for community energy support. In 2019/20, a new project with trial funding of £50,000 had been set up, called “Low Carbon Communities in South Lakeland”. The aim was to look at how communities as a whole could establish targets to become carbon neutral and work towards achieving them, with Ambleside being selected as an exemplar.
With regard to what was proposed, CAfS had asked to extend Low Carbon Communities in South Lakeland for a further two years. In addition to the £50,000 per annum which was the current level of support, a further £50,000 was requested on a one-off basis for 2020 to 2021, specifically to widen the scope of the initiative to cover support for businesses as well as communities. The key deliverables were:-
• working up options and managing feasibility work on new local renewable systems (in exemplar community) (£28,600).
• carbon footprint and carbon reduction support for businesses (£25,700);
• events programme – for communities, businesses and those with an interest in low carbon homes and to disseminate learning from exemplar (£14,300).
• establishing Community Knowledge Hub (£7,600); and
• advising South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria Leaders on Zero/Low Carbon transition (£24,000).
If approved, the agreement would set out the deliverables to be met in detail, the conditions and requirements to be met, the reporting requirements and the timing of payments. This would protect the Council’s position and performance would be monitored to ensure that deliverables are delivered and value for money achieved.
In response to a query, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder suggested that the Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder liaise with officers in order to make arrangements for a presentation to Members by CAfS on what had been delivered to date and what was proposed to be delivered with this award.
The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed. There was no dissent.
RESOLVED – That
(1) approval be given for the award of a contract to CAFS of £100,000 in 2020/21 and £50,000 in 2021/22 to continue and deliver the Low Carbon Communities in South Lakeland Initiative, to be funded £100,000 from the £50,000 growth items in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 approved budget agreed by Council on 25 February 2020 and £50,000 from the National Non-Domestic Rate Pooling Reserve; and
(2) the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources be authorised to conclude the appropriate agreement in consultation with the Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) and Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer).
Reasons for Decision
The Council Plan adopted in December 2019 sets a strategic priority of meeting the challenge of Climate Change as well as the following actions:-
• Working with partners to develop energy saving and energy efficiency initiatives.
• Providing energy advice and additional support to households at risk of fuel poverty.
• Implementing the Cumbria Public Health Strategy (To become a “carbon neutral” County and to mitigate the likely impact of existing climate change).
• Promoting environmental technologies and the green economy.
• Working to achieve a carbon neutral South Lakeland.
• Promoting sustainable and active transport including cycling and walking.
• Conserving and enhancing the biodiversity of the District.
The Council has also adopted a corporate policy on Climate Change which sets out a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Lakeland. Cabinet on 18 March 2020 recommended the amendment of the policy to adopt a target for South Lakeland District Council to become Carbon Neutral by 2030 and to support a target for a carbon neutral Cumbria by 2037.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
The Council could chose not to fund the CAfS proposal and this would result in a saving and/or the potential to spend the money on other projects.
However, such a course of action would result in a loss of momentum and risk completion of the significant progress made in the exemplar community together with reputational risk in terms of the Council’s commitment to the Climate Change issue. The proposal is about empowering communities and businesses to go forward and develop and implement their own measures to address climate change. The energy, goodwill and enthusiasm of local communities and the voluntary sector would be significantly reduced.
The significant value which the Council derives from CAfS’ extensive expertise in terms of advice and support in developing energy efficiency measures would have to be sourced from elsewhere. Continued well informed and locally based advice is essential to the delivery of our carbon reduction targets.
For these reasons the option of not funding is not recommended.
Another option would be to agree to part fund the initiative, up to £50,000 per annum for two years, as budgeted for in the Council’s approved 2020/21 budget. This would however mean that a lot of the work which we want to do with businesses will not be delivered. Engaging the business community and the visitor economy in particular, is essential to delivering on our carbon reduction targets. This option is not recommended.
Another option would be to offer a single year agreement, to include £50,000 from the approved budget and the additional £50,000 from the NNDR Pooling Reserve. This option would enable work to continue and to include the work with businesses in the current year. It would reserve a future decision on support in 2021/22. As work to address climate change requires progressive and sustained activity, this option is not recommended.
A further option would be to seek another organisation to deliver the required outcomes; for the reasons set out in paragraph 7.1 of the report, this option is not recommended.
Publication date: 24/07/2020
Date of decision: 22/07/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/07/2020 - Cabinet
Effective from: 03/08/2020