Annual Carbon Action Plan 2022/23
- Meeting of Climate & Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Thursday, 23rd June, 2022 2.00 pm (Item 8.)
To provide the Committee with a report on projects to be scrutinised during 2022/23.
That the Committee notes the report, and provides comment and feedback where needed.
The Vice-Chair introduced the Climate Change Manager (WODC), Land, Legal and Property, Ness Scott.
Ness Scott gave the committee a verbal update on the Annual Carbon Action Plan 2022/23.
The Annual Carbon Action Plan is focused on decarbonising the Councils estate and reaching the target of carbon neutral by 2030. Within the plan WODC looked at scope 1 emissions, scope 2 emissions, and some of scope 3. Primarily all the councils fossil fuel, and gases and fuels used in the councils buildings and operations, including vehicle fleets, staff travel, business travel, Councillor travel, everything that will be included in the carbon account each year.
Carbon action plan split into three sections:
· council offices, property and sites
· leisure centre buildings
· waste vehicle fleet, machinery and all other vehicles owned by the council
The measures to decarbonise those areas are being carried out by teams that work across those service areas.
Each year the Council looks at how the carbon account figures have changed year on year, that work is being pulled together at the moment, hopefully figures to be completed by end of the summer.
Council offices decarbonisation the main areas are energy sustainability, will be fed into agile strategy, work is in progress as part of the agile project. There will be an impact where staff have been home working and some will continue to do so, also commuter mileage is taken into account. Encouraging staff to cycle or to walk to work, Publica have announced staff salary sacrifice for the purchase of low emission vehicles.
Carbon offsetting strategy, the team are looking at certified schemes to put into place for offsetting carbon.
Leisure focus is on the age of the heating system in our centres. Carterton Leisure Centre heating system approaching end of life. A successful bid for 1.3million contribution to heat pump alternative, with solar panels on the roof has been secured, in the process of developing a business case.
Council Waste Service review working with the management as new service will have a carbon impact and a key driver.
Climate change Strategy that was published last February, for example some of the works included the park and charge work that has just been completed,
Carbon Action Tool Kit has been put forward for an award with LGC Awards 2022.
Bia diversity on land management, great achievements this year, taking forward nature conservation for the councils estates, working with schools and communities, and in the autumn hedgerow planting.
The Vice-Chair thanked Ness Scott for the update and asked for councillors questions.
Councillor Goodwin asked about homeworking using more carbon at home and how that was being addressed.
The Climate Change Manager confirmed there was a balance to be struck, started with question and answer sessions with staff, posted advice to staff on how to reduce energy and how to save on bills at home. Publica have been really open and will support staff with options either working at home or within the offices.
Councillor Goodwin enquired if WODC were on track for the 2030 target and would the offset be high.
The climate Change Manager confirmed that systems may need replacing sooner rather than end of life, and offset maybe required, however it would be a short term off set arrangement, hence the strategy so that these can be considered.
Councillor Goodwin enquired if the heat pump replacement in the leisure centre would be net zero. The Climate Change Manager explained that the leisure centre was built in two phases and phase two was only 2019, the heating system in this building is not being changed. Decarbonisation is focussed on the pool area in the original building which is run on gas boilers, so it’s not a complete net zero but a substantial change.
Councillor Brooker asked firstly, if the EV charging units were fast charge or standard charge. Neighbours that live at Woodgreen want to purchase E vehicles, however they have no way of charging at the moment. Suggestion that out of office hours could there not be charging points at Woodgreen for example for residents to use. Secondly, the green spaces at Welsh way, not all WODC land, lack of grass cutting, can we use the land to better use.
The Climate Change Manager confirmed that fast charges focus on overnight charging for local residents, they are not rapid charge points. They are more than capable of doing a top up in a short period of time. More information can be brought back from the park and charge team. Data would be useful, in three months’ time there should be six months’ worth of performance data. Hoping to produce a quarterly report moving forward. Sustainability measures in the agile workplace will be looking at greener solutions. Therefore what happens to Woodgreen carpark is part of the consideration within the agile project.
Councillor David Cooper asked that a lot of public buildings still have asbestos, the cost of removal and impact to landfill the cost of offsetting is this part of the carbon accounting, and at what cost.
The Climate Change Manager confirmed that staff that look after estates buildings have condition reports so any issues with asbestos would be flagged in this way. Estates team oversee all replacements of materials, the climate team make recommendations, and suggestions for advising on decarbonisation. The property and estates team are instrumental in making it all happen.
Councillor Coles during the development of the parking action plan, I suggested that the park enforcement team uses local buses to get about, a number of other authorities do this and let them travel free. Has this been in discussion.
The Climate Change Manager confirmed that it had not been discussed as yet, but she would take it away and talk to the parking team about it.
Councillor Pearson will there be more carparks that will have EV charge points installed.
The Climate Change Manager confirmed the initial project now completed, they would be monitoring the usage and uptake. They were also looking at joining up with the EV team at OCC, to extend EV parking to other sites, county wide.
Councillor Ruth Smith asked if Ness Scott could answer a question under the works programme.
Councillor Goodwin stated he thought that the meeting was not long enough to include the climate action points, it used to be a separate meeting and was at least two hours long. Merging the two meetings does not give enough time to address all items. The Vice-Chair suggested that climate action always be on top of the work programme moving forward.
The Vice-Chair had nothing but praise for all the work that had been achieved so far on WODC assets. And thanked Ness’s team. WODC assets is only one percent of West Oxfordshire assets, the other for the other 99% we should lead the drive to address carbon neutrality within the district.
Councillor Brooker reminded about the question on land management.
Ness Scott stated that the land management plans were published at the start of the year in January, it’s a five year management plan. It will evolve and grow and more areas will be added, need to ensure that its cost neutral and work with the grounds maintenance contractors. Year one we are seeing wild flower meadows are coming up,
Councillor Al-Yousuf mentioned that WODC had been nominated for LGC awards 2022, and he wanted to congratulate the team and wanted it acknowledged and noted.
A question was raised before the meeting in writing from Councillor Al-Yousuf:
“How is WODC performing with regard to its commitment to tackling the climate emergency compared to other councils in Oxfordshire? Climate Emergency UK has given WODC a score of 50%. Is this organisation reputable, and is its methodology credible?”
Answer from The Climate Change Manager:
For Oxfordshire, the running order was:
West Oxfordshire: 50%
Oxford City: 48%
Oxfordshire County: 43%
Cherwell District Council: 45%
South Oxfordshire: 0%
Climate Emergency UK, a sector-led organisation established in 2019 to track and record council’s climate change commitments, launched their Council Climate Plan Scorecards on 27 January 2022. The scorecards are an assessment of all UK councils’, publicly available, climate action plans and strategies. The findings are varied, with the average score for all council types around 50%.
The assessment was done after each council answered a questionnaire, signposting their strategy, action plans and funding commitments. (I can only assume South Oxfordshire did not complete theirs!)
For WODC, the main items used for assessment were:
- Carbon Action Plan, and pathway to carbon neutral by 2030 (published October 2020)
- Local Recovery Plan (published October 2020) – climate as a key theme and funding subsequently allocated to short term posts taking forward climate action
- Council Plan – climate as a key theme
- Climate Change Strategy, setting out the framework for cross-District priorities embedding the ecological emergency within that
- The Climate Action Survey (carried out in 2020 to inform the Climate Change Strategy objectives) – the fact the Council’s strategy was developed from a public consultation and addressed the issues raised by consultees would have scored well.
- Climate Action Bulletins to the WO Climate Action Network (380 members) as ongoing communication with local communities
These were the main components WODC fed into the assessment.
It’s a desktop study, informed only by the strategy and plans for each Council submitted as part of the questionnaire. They looked for demonstration that climate and nature were being considered as integral and that consultation plays a key role for Councils - we scored well on engagement as you can see and this would most certainly be down to the fact our climate action survey went on to influence a strategy and ongoing communications.
The Climate Change Manager thought it was as good an assessment as a UK-wide desktop assessment could be. It will obviously have its shortcomings, as all assessments will, but as a high-level indicator of progress I would say it’s been a helpful benchmarking.
Councillor Al-Yousuf asked if the 50% was a pleasing score. Does the methodology reflects urban versus city geographically, agriculture versus industrial.
Ness Scott replied that it was a strong start, which was also a strong start, and yes the scope was broad, but it still has value.
The Vice-Chair thanked Ness Scott for her attendance and update.