The Panel considered a report which reviewed the progress towards delivering the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and identified priority activities for 2023 to 2024.
The report set out the activities under the 7 themes of the Climate Change Plan for 2023/4.
Some of the activities would deliver real emissions reductions and improvement to nature, whilst others would be enabling work to assess opportunities, barriers and pathways.
The Council developed a comprehensive and ambitious strategy for achieving its ambition of both the Council and District becoming Net Zero by 2030. The Council recognised that meeting this target, particularly across the district, would be extremely challenging. In part, this was because of the limited direct impact the Council could have on district-wide emissions and also because local reductions in emissions would be reliant on national and international targets being achieved.
Discussions at the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel and with key stakeholders, including Moorlands Climate Action, had emphasised the importance of targeting our limited resources on the areas where we can have the greatest impact. In response, it was proposed that the focus in 2023//24 would be on domestic energy, nature initiatives and engaging young people. This was in addition to on-going work to reduce the Council’s direct emissions and supporting community groups.
Members appreciated this was a difficult task and some matters were not within the control of the Council. However, an analysis of the Council’s achievements was expected and a document produced by Moorlands Climate Action (MCA) was referred to.
The work carried out by the Climate Change Sub-Committees was discussed and the possibility of these meetings being re-convened.
Some members were of the opinion that more action should have been taken on matters within the control of the Council, since its commitment to becoming net zero by 2030. Specific data and evidence on the reduction of carbon saving was requested.
Members debated green energy and the procurement of the Council’s energy contract, pilot programs, transport & industry, supplementary planning documents/local plan, potential loss of wildlife corridor at Cecilly Brook and assessment of projects.
Suggestions were made around innovative ideas for rural bus schemes and active travel. The future of Moorlands House and the installation of LED lighting was discussed.
An issue in relation to the nature work at Biddulph Valley Way was highlighted and for the contact details for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to be provided.
More transparency around the work of the Staffordshire Sustainability Board was requested and it was confirmed that this meeting would be held in public from March 2023.
The Leader assured members that climate change was a priority and that the Council could have acted more rapidly in some areas. The good working relationship with MCA was noted.
That the Panel:
1) NOTED the contents of the report and
2) DEFERRED recommendation that Cabinet approve the priority activities for 2023/24, until further details were available around substantive actions, costs, evidence and measured outcomes.