Asking a question and addressing the
Questions or requests to make an address (in full and in writing) must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 23 November 2022,three clear working days before the Future Oxfordshire Partnership meeting.
Questions and addresses should be no longer than one side of A4 paper in Arial 12 font. The address or question will be circulated to the Partnership and public speakers will be invited to speak at the meeting. Written submissions may also be read out by the Chair or Democratic Services Officer where requested or if the person making the request for public speaking is not able to attend the meeting. A response may be given at the meeting or a written answer supplied. The Chair will have discretion to manage the public participation procedure as they see appropriate. Questions and notice of addresses must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: This meeting may be recorded for live broadcast. At the start of the meeting the Chair will confirm the meeting is being filmed. By registering to speak you are consenting to being recorded and to the use of those video and audio recordings for webcasting.
Full written responses to public questions and addresses made at the meeting can be found here.
George Curtis, on behalf of Need Not Greed Oxfordshire (NNGO), referring to the Oxfordshire Strategic Vision commented on the need for it to have measurable outcomes if it was to be a document that ‘walked the walk’ as well as ‘talked the talk’. The Partnership was asked to engage with the work being undertaken at Oxford University which was looking to redefine economics to include sustainability and wellbeing. In particular, Mr Curtis drew members attention to the Doughnut Economics Action Lab and the Doughnut Economics Urban Development events being held on 7 December 2022.
The Partnership was asked:
· How did the Partnership intend to move from aspirations to achievement?
· How would the Vision be transformed into a series of achievable projects with measurable outcomes?
· How soon would the Partnership have the system of measurement in place?
· Could the Partnership please review how it responded to questions from civic groups and ensure that the issues raised were discussed?
Responding to Mr Curtis’ final question, the Chair commented that the Partnership’s common practice was to respond in writing so that a fuller explanation could be provided. While it was also possible that draft verbal answers could be given, due to the detail of some issues this could have an impact on meeting time management. The Chair, nevertheless, stated that the current procedures could be reviewed.
In relation to the measurement of the delivery of the Strategic Vision outcomes, the Chair specified that the Partnership recognised the ambitious nature of the document and acknowledged that it would require a sustained commitment by not only the organisations directly involved but also a wider set of strategic stakeholders and partners. In addition, to delivering on its own programme of work aligned to the outcomes of the Vision, the Future Oxfordshire Partnership also provides a forum in which key place-shaping organisations could discuss how their own individual plans support its realisation.
With regards to the economic work being undertaken by Oxford University, Mr Curtis was thanked for providing this information. Several members of the Partnership suggested that they would consider attending the event if possible.
Ian Green, on behalf of Oxford Civic Society (OCS), referred to the three recommendations that he had made at the Partnership meeting in September. Mr Green expressed his disappointment that the written response had omitted to cover the main points of the recommendations in relation to the importance of public involvement in countywide strategic planning following the end of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. The public had been encouraged to engage with the preparation of the Plan and a lot of innovative steps had been taken to achieve this.
The OCS was concerned that there was now a void in public engagement, especially in regard to how integrated strategic plans (e.g. the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan) would be coordinated with district and city-level Local Plans. The Partnership’s response that public statutory consultations would take place as part of the Local Plan process did not, in their view, address the issue of engagement with the more strategic level plans. The Partnership had also indicated that the proposed Planning Advisory Group would take a coordinating role, but again the matter of continued public engagement remained uncertain.
The Chair stated that although a final written answer would be provided to the OCS, infrastructure requirements were linked to Local Plans and, therefore, remained the responsibility of each Local Planning Authority. The councils had collectively developed the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy and expected this to continue to be a valuable strategic tool.
In addition, Local Plans provided a key mechanism allowing people to participate in the future planning of an area. As part of the preparation of Local Plans, there were several stages of consultation. Furthermore, all submitted plans are considered by an Independent Inspector through a public examination.
Professor Richard Harding, on behalf of CPRE Oxfordshire, asked the Partnership to clarify its plans in relation to the provision of solar farms in the county. It was felt that there had recently been a wave of speculative planning applications to install solar farms on green field sites, including the Botley West proposal for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, many of which were generating considerable concern and anxiety from local communities. He commented that while the CPRE supported the provision of renewable energy, they were opposed to it being achieved in this chaotic and unplanned way.
Professor Harding also referred to the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire (PaZCO) report. This document had identified potential four pathways, three of which attained scope 1 zero carbon emissions by 2050. These credible routes had a considerable range in their provision of solar power (ranging from 1,400 to 3,900 GWh/yr) as well as many other necessary actions and policies. The most ambitious pathway required a substantial devotion of land to solar farms and other renewable energy initiatives (such as biomass). In addition, the report clearly identifies that ‘Smart land use planning with participation of all stakeholders is essential’.
The Partnership was, therefore, asked:
· What is the status of the PaZCO report? Is it/will it be guidance or adopted policy?
· What was the process that the Partnership (and constituent councils) would adopt to decide the preferred pathway to zero carbon?
· How would stakeholders (in particular, civic society) engage in this process?
· Would Oxfordshire produce a ‘smart’ land use plan which will balance the needs of renewable energy generation with those of food production, biodiversity, and the protection of the rural nature of the Oxfordshire countryside?
The Chair responded that while a written answer would be provided, there was a clear interconnection between each of the questions. He made clear that, in general, the Partnership very rarely sought to adopt a policy position that could impose on the sovereignty of individual councils – although it did make recommendations for local authorities to consider. The National Panning Policy Framework as it related to solar farms would also influence the Partnership’s final answer.