Venue: virtual meeting
Contact: Candida Mckelvey, Democratic Services Officer
Note: This meeting will be broadcast live - you can watch it live, or the recording later, at the following link (please copy and paste into browser): https://www.youtube.com/c/SouthandValeCommitteeMeetings
To receive any announcements from the chair and general housekeeping matters.
Chair introduced herself as the new chair and thanked previous chair, Councillor David Grant. She congratulated Councillor De La Harpe on taking on the vice chair role, replacing Councillor Duveen.
Chair also welcomed the new Cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Environment – Councillor Sally Povolotsky (previously Councillor Webber).
Apologies for absence
To record apologies for absence and the attendance of substitute members.
There were no apologies for absence.
Declaration of interests
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.
There were no declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.
To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent.
There was no urgent business.
To review the notes of the last meeting held on 5 April 2022.
The minutes of the meeting held on 5 April 2022 were reviewed and no comments raised.
Committee agreed the minutes to be a correct record.
To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.
There was no public participation.
Update from task and finish groups
For committee to receive any updates from current task and finish groups.
There were currently no updates from task and finish groups.
Update from the Cabinet Member for Environment
An update from Cabinet Member Councillor Sally Povolotsky.
Cabinet member briefed the committee as follows:
At the end of June, we made some exciting awards to thirteen successful applicants of the Climate Action Fund. The Fund, which opened for the first time this year, was very popular and attracted a wide range of interesting and action focused projects.
The funding was aimed at projects which actively tackled climate change and/or enhanced biodiversity across the Vale, alongside increasing local communities’ awareness and knowledge of the climate emergency. We particularly welcomed applications from those at the beginning of their climate journey, as well as established local groups. The Fund was oversubscribed this year, with a total request of £77,000 from applicants, with a £50,000 fund available.
Out of the thirteen successful applicants, three projects were focused on energy, five on lifestyle changes including food and five on biodiversity and wildlife. The organisations that received funding will now also be invited to join a network to share experiences, highlight the success of schemes that received funding and potentially collaborate on future projects. Cabinet member was very pleased to have visited the Abingdon Carbon Cutters / Abbey Buildings event on Saturday called ‘Plot to Plate’ around food, food waste reduction, and composting. It was inspiring and look forward to seeing what our other award winners do with their funding. Round two of the Fund was anticipated to open in Autumn later this year.
FOP/EAG feedback meeting
Cabinet member had also assumed the position as the Vale’s representative on the Future Oxfordshire Partnership’s Environment Advisory Group. She attended her first meeting on 21 June, where the group received an update on the Pathways to Zero Carbon Oxfordshire (PAZCO) route map. Consultants had been appointed to take forward the work (City Science) and stakeholder workshops were being planned to take place during July. The five themes were:
– Rural travel
– Finance and Local Models of Finance
– Domestic retrofit
– SME support to decarbonise
The thematic workshops will focus on developing some of the longlist of actions needed to achieve the route map. The draft route map will be reviewed in draft by the EAG at their next meeting in late September.
The EAG also received a presentation from Good Food Oxford and the Food Strategy they have developed for Oxfordshire. There was clear alignment to climate change, and we know through the IPCC report this year that food systems contribute 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Notably, the strategy having a whole theme on “Food for the Planet”. The strategy will be coming to Councils in Oxfordshire for endorsement.
We also agreed given the CCC and IPCC recommendations we needed to review our language within local authorities and start to stress the emergency we do face.
Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund
Cabinet member was pleased to update the committee that the Climate Action Team were working in partnership on an application into the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund which was designed to provide financial support to increase the capacity of specialist skills within ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Environment Act update
An update from officers on the Environment Act.
There was no update for this standing agenda item, as confirmed by officers. Officers were waiting on further information emerging from central government.
Update on the climate action team
A verbal update from the Climate Action team, led by the Climate and Biodiversity Team Leader.
Climate and Biodiversity Team Leader updated the committee on changes to his team.
We had recruited Jessie Fieth, as Senior Climate Action Officer. One-year secondments for the same role had been filled by Chloe Bunting and Kim Hall, funded by South Oxfordshire, but due to areas of joint working there may be some crossover with Vale.
Tiny Forest update
The committee will receive a verbal update on Tiny Forest projects in the Vale of White Horse district.
Climate and Biodiversity Team Leader updated the committee on the early-stage development of Tiny Forest work in the district.
The aim of Tiny Forests was to raise awareness of tree planting and environment, especially in urban areas. Tiny Forests (Earth Watch) a
were 600 mixed species trees, covering the area of a tennis court – therefore ideal for urban areas and finding ways to increase tree cover in urban spaces, especially in areas of deprivation. We will have a team of “keepers” to monitor the areas, and gather data on carbon sequestering etc. We were still confirming a site, but likely Abingdon (Heron’s Walk). Planting should go ahead between December 2022 and March 2023 with help of volunteers, so we can look forward to seeing progress in the coming seasons.
It was confirmed that the council was focussing on their own land for the time being, future work may look at other options for planting.
Climate Action Plan reporting
Committee to receive a verbal update from officers on the planned approach for CAP reporting.
Senior Climate Action Officer briefed the committee. The committee can expect the first quarter of monitoring to be presented to the committee at the next meeting.
Quarterly reports on the Climate Action Plan will give a strategic overview of climate activity and performance, similar to that of the corporate plan. Data will be gathered from Heads of Service who will give narratives and updates on figures where appropriate. A RAG rating will accompany the narrative, and also short, medium and long-term project categorising.
CEAC, scrutiny and Cabinet will review the report, ensuring transparency, and publication on our website.
Members were encouraged to ask for further detail on projects of interest, by asking chair of committee to add it to the committee agenda (and in discussion with the relevant Cabinet member). The climate team can add a particular Climate Action Plan project to the work programme for further analysis, bringing the appropriate officers and Cabinet member to the meeting to discuss.
Committee to note the Corporate Plan performance report for quarter 4 and the annual report for 2021-22, focusing on the ‘Tackling the Climate Emergency’ theme.
Committee were presented with the quarter four report and the annual report 2021/22. Officers were present to answer any queries, but members were encouraged to email the Cabinet member or officers with detailed questions, as the information may not be available in the meeting.
Committee were asked to focus on Theme 2: Tackling the climate emergency.
A member asked for more detail on the agenda regarding the requirement of the committee for this item, rather than standard wording “for noting”. Democratic Services Officer confirmed that there was now a standard routine for reviewing the corporate plan performance quarterly reports at scrutiny and CEAC, where members ask questions or raise comments which are reviewed by officers and Cabinet members, therefore informing improvement of the plan and its outcomes. Democratic Services Officer will consider the wording on the agenda for this item to elaborate. Chair reminded committee that this was not a decision-making committee, and that all reports stated for noting, discussion would be expected as standard at CEAC.
A member asked about the carbon emissions reporting that was produced by the council – can we add this to the quarterly report? It was confirmed that the greenhouse gases report was in a separate format, but officer added they would consider adding this information to the annual performance report.
Another member suggested a deeper dive into leisure centre decarbonisation figures, costs, savings? Cabinet member for Environment informed committee that some work was being completed with other Cabinet members, it was being actively looked at. Solutions were being looked at, such as pool covers. Cabinet member hoped to bring some findings back to committee when possible.
To have a deeper dive, officers confirmed that committee would need to add items to their work programme, by notifying the chair, and the climate team would look into what can be achieved and when, for presentation at committee.
It was added by a member that decarbonisation of leisure centres was mentioned and a report expected in May. Not just outdoor pools, but the indoor centres. Officer updated that surveys had been commissioned for Wantage and White Horse Leisure Centres. We are now using these to compile new bids, expected in September. Insight and Policy Manager will consider what form the reports were in and how they can be presented to committee at a future date.
On page 24 – communication to the public – chair asked whether we had a wider strategy for communication of climate topics and advice? It was responded that the communications team meet with the climate team to discuss what should be pushed forward. There was a brand-new OCC website, in collaboration with local districts, to add case studies of what we were doing. The website was in its infancy, but a good way to avoid duplication and improve sharing and collaboration.
Tips and suggestions for the website were welcomed.
It was confirmed in response to query on bulky waste progress, that bulky waste was a priority for Cabinet member for Environment, ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
For committee members to suggest topics for future consideration of the committee.
Suggestions from committee were:
· Swimming pool and indoor leisure centre decarbonisation progress (from previous discussion in the meeting)
· Biodiversity bank
Rewilding of verges was occurring with OCC, and Cabinet member did add that there was a trial site in Vale, and species enrichment was occurring. Post-October, there may be some development / policy after the trial run. Cabinet member welcomed other members to visit the site to see progress.