Venue: Virtual meeting
Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Councillor J Davies.
The meeting started at 6.40pm, immediately following the Industry & Agriculture Sub Group.
DECIDED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Climate Change Working Group held on 18 March 2021 be APPROVED as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
(Proposed by Councillor Yates and seconded by Councillor Herdman.)
Declarations of interest
Mr Mike Jones sought clarification on which organisation he was appointed as representative to the working group. His understanding was that he represented the Green Party but this had apparently been refuted. The Chair agreed to review the minutes and speak to Mr Jones after the meeting.
Later in the meeting, during the Moorlands Climate Action update, Cllr. Flunder declared an “other” interest in that he was a member of the Staffs County Council Climate Change all-party Working Group.
Road Map Update - Part 1 / Part 2 Plans - Presentation & Discussion
Mark Forrester (MF) addressed members using a short presentation.
The projected timetable following the progress check at this meeting was:-
· Climate Change Plan (Part 1) – agreed & published end of June 2021;
· Climate Change Plan (Part 2) – initial draft end of July 2021;
· Community Engagement – August / September 2021;
· Climate Change Plan (Part 2) – agreed 13 October 2021;
· Climate Change Plan (updated part 1 & part 2) – published end of October 2021;
· Climate Change Charter – published 1 November 2021.
There was a logical process to follow and “ANTHESIS” had been appointed to undertake an analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions in the district and suggesting the trajectory to carbon neutrality in respect of:- Data, Policies, Agencies, Resources, Actions and Organisation.
The Community Engagement / Consultation process needed to:-
· Be clear about the purpose from our perspective;
· Be clear about the purpose for those we engaged with;
· Design the process;
· Gain suggestions.
There was a need to focus on gaining active support and participation and to see how far we’d got to by the end of July 2021 via the use of an attitude survey.
Part 1 of the plan was to go before the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel on 21 June 2021, then to Cabinet on 29 June and Full Council on 30 June. Part 2 would follow a similar pattern later in the year. Ideas so far suggested by the Sub Groups had been taken into consideration for incorporation in the plan making it dynamic. There were some difficulties with ideas that were the realm of other organisations and therefore not in our control. MF was looking to catch up with the Sub Groups in the near future.
Working Group members felt that the plan needed the ‘buy-in’ of everyone in the Moorlands via community groups and consultation could not be done too early. MF confirmed that decisions on how the consultation would be carried out were not yet finalised. The purpose had to be clear and this was not yet pinned down.
The data from “ANTHESIS” should be available by mid-July and a workshop was proposed for its presentation. External help was required with the consultation and an organisation was under consideration. ‘Road Shows’ with a physical presence were being looked at.
Cllr. Herdman said proposals had been put forward but were likely to dry up shortly. Guidance was needed to proceed further.
Cllr. Price recapped that existing housing stock was most important as it was most numerous and difficult to influence. The grant scheme had now been axed. Local difficulties such as adverse weather, lack of insulation and fuel poverty also created barriers.
New housing stock was seen as easier to influence through a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), as evidenced in other local authorities such as Guildford. However, approaches to the Portfolio Holders had not been responded to.
Cllr. Taylor voiced frustration at the lack of progress. There were several ideas to put forward including an SPD on tree planting in new developments, also tree planting on council-owned land, county farms (SCC project) and in country parks via the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
TRAVEL & TRANSPORT
Cllr. Flunder’s Sub Group had half categorised 5 ideas though without any hard data. These had been prioritised for inclusion in the consultation exercise.
INDUSTRY & AGRICULTURE
Cllr. Holmes noted that a number of representatives had attended Sub Group meetings and subsequently intermingled with others, resulting in combining ideas with obvious knock-on benefits.
MF confirmed that he would be meeting with each Sub Group chair to discuss these matters further.
Mark Johnson highlighted recent MCA activities, identifying a need to re-engage with SCC through their new Head of Climate at Councillor level.
More locally, MCA had presented to the Parish Assembly which led to invitations to present at Biddulph Town Council, Kingsley Parish Council and others. Cheadle Town Council had also set up a Climate Working Group and with MCA help there was to be co-operation between the 3 towns on climate action endeavours.
A meeting was held with the senior board member responsible for climate change at the Peak District National Park, which encouraged MCA to meet with other like-minded groups. A network of such groups was being set up.
There was a clear need to engage with people on the streets and an open invitation was issued to attend the ‘Green Festival’ at the Foxlowe, Leek on 26 June.
Mike Jones (MJ) referred to the minutes of the Working Group of January 2020 where agreement was reached for SMDC to support the ‘Refill Staffordshire Moorlands Scheme’. Covid had since delayed the scheme but plans were now in place to re-launch it, though no support had been received. A definitive answer was needed.
MF agreed to respond to MJ within 24 hours with a response.