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 Minutes of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Bideford, on Tuesday 19 November 2019 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

South Ward:

Councillor B Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor J Craigie (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer

Co-opted Member: Mr J Day

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor P Christie (North Ward)
1 x Members of the Public

33.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence received.

34.      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

There were no Declarations of Interest.

35.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD

Councillor Christie asked about the National Grid in terms of selling the National Grid, re nationalising and the opportunity for private suppliers.

The Chairman reminded Members that prior to the calling of the General Election there had been a bill, supported by 115 (then) MPs to provide the opportunity for Community Cooperatives to have access to the National Grid. The Council had agreed to contact the Torridge and West Devon MPs and publish a Press Release declaring their support for the Power for People Campaign.

(Councillor Mrs Hellyer and Mr J Day joined the Meeting.)

36.     MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 29 October 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)

37.     DECARBONISATION ACTION PLAN (DAP)

The Chairman explained that the Meeting had been called in response to two points raised at the last Council Meeting: the development of a Decarbonisation Action Plan and whether the Council would commit two per cent of their Budget towards Climate (Emergency) Solutions, in line with other organisations.

a.      Report from DALC AGM.

The Chairman indicated how important it was to incorporate the DAP into the Neighbourhood Plan given that the Plan alone would simply be a wish list without any legal backing.

Engaging with the local Community is vital, Totnes Town Council gave a presentation on their Climate and Ecological Emergency Action Planning Week that included activities, exhibits, workshops and sessions covering:

• Recycling – consumption and waste.
• Home insulation.
• Fuel poverty.
• Transport – encouragement towards greater walking and cycling.

He explained that DCC would be creating a number of Citizen’s Assemblies as a means to consider and deliberate on the Climate Emergency. He conceded that at a local level this would be somewhat complex. He indicated that a People’s Assembly would not be democratically perfect but a more traditional public event, with less constraints, would provide an opportunity to engage with a wider public and obtain feedback.

He noted the differences in approach between Cornwall and Devon Councils – the former is officer lead, the latter community engagement.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer highlighted the distinction between Zero Carbon and Carbon Neutral. The Chairman conceded that the technology was not in place for Zero Emissions, but Zero net Carbon was achievable.

It was noted at the AGM that Bideford Town Council were the only Town / Parish Council to have a formal Committee dedicated to responding to the Climate Emergency.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer suggested widening the forum to involve other parishes.

The Chairman indicated that DALC saw the Council as a trend setter, a template that other Towns / Parishes could duplicate. He advised also, that a DALC member was on the DCC Steering Committee.

Councillor Wootton believed that Planning Regulations should change along with a more flexible approach to mortgage lending in the light of new innovative and creative building methods.

The Chairman agreed that existing statue law is not always helpful; in some areas it is unhelpful. DALC do lobby Government and will help with addressing legislative issues from the Devon wide communities.

Councillor Mrs Craigie highlighted the difficulties presented to the rural communities with demands for change to methods of transport and farming.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised Members of the Bideford, Northam and Rural Parishes Area Advisory Group Meeting to be held in the Town Hall on Monday, 25 November 2109. She indicated that Councillor John Hart, Leader of DCC, will be addressing the Meeting.

Discussion followed, led by the Chairman on sharing the Committee’s output by extending invitations to local parishes to attend future meetings and updating DALC and DCC. The Chairman and Clerk will ascertain a distribution list for Agendas / Minutes.

b.      Zero Carbon Britain Decarbonisation Action Planning Conference 4th/5th December 2019.

The Chairman indicated that he would be attending the Zero Carbon Britain Conference at the Centre of Alternate Technology (CAT) in mid Wales. The short course is ideal for educators, policymakers, campaigners, and anyone who wants to understand how the UK could rise to the climate challenge of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

He intimated that the Course would be addressing behavioural changes given the difficult transition ahead:

• Provision of a reliable energy supply for the UK with 100% renewable energy sources without fossil fuels and nuclear power.
• Food production for a healthy, low carbon diet, land management to capture carbon and nurture biodiversity.
• Understanding key barriers to change and how to overcome them.

The Chairman circulated a letter received from the CAT who acknowledge the Council’s commitment advising that, “the use of local shops for information, organising groups of local people into juries and assemblies is a great way to encourage much needed conversations and solutions to climate change.” They also offered help with resources provision through their Zero Carbon Britain Hub.

c.      Awards for All Funding Application to resource Decarbonisation Hub and other public engagement elements of DAP.

The Chairman advised that application can be made to the CAT for a help support grant of up to £10,000 to engage the public.

He estimated that to set up a People’s Assembly would cost £5,000. Areas that would be addressed would include:

• Power.
• Recreation and land use.
• Housing.
• Transport.
• Industry.
• Commerce.
Further expenditure would include:

• Hire of a report writer – 200 hours at £20 / hour.
• Printing – including questionnaires - £500.
• Volunteer costs - £500.

He spoke on the composition of the “Jury”, of twenty four, from residents drawn from the local area, with a demographic representative to the Parish.

The Chairman referenced a meeting of the Bideford Carbon Cooperative where they believed that the Hub could operate from the Council’s Marquee, on Jubilee Square on Saturdays, mindful of other organised events, using 1 Queen Street as the base / store.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer agreed to establish the authority to obtain permission to operate from Jubilee Square.

The Chairman envisaged operating from 1 Queen Street / the Square for a twelve month period on Saturdays and additional days. He noted that there was a potential of twelve volunteers.

Members expressed agreement and support for processing a grant application with the CAT to resource a Decarbonisation Hub and other public engagement elements of DAP.

38.      BUDGET ALLOCATION FOR COMMITTEE

To make a recommendation to Council on the following issues:

a.       2% total Council Income suggestion.

Members recalled the Meeting of the Town Council on 7 March 2019 where it was resolved that future initiatives to combat Climate Change would be supported. The Motion that was resolved upon looked to commit future funds for local sustainable energy projects and aim to make Torridge District zero net carbon by 2030.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That Two per cent of the total precept is made available for Decarbonisation and Climate action purposes.

(Vote: For: 4, Against: 0)

b.      Need for research and Committee Member education.

Members spoke in terms of the need to be informed in order to inform.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That Members are provided the opportunity to attend Events and Conferences (fact finding) subject to confirmation, by the Committee, on a case by case basis.

(Vote: For: 4, Against: 0)

c.      Projects funding (climate change adaption, mitigation or prevention).

Members discussed funding support for:

• A £150 commitment towards promoting a Crowd Funding bid for the East-the-Water Primary School solar panelling initiative and gain entry to the M&S Community Energy Fund competition.
• The Nappy Library Project.
• Attendance fee, travelling expenses and subsistence costs for the Zero Carbon Britain Conference be met by the Council.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That £150 is made available to promote the Crowd Funding opportunity to support solar panelling provision at East-the-Water Primary School.

(Vote: For: 4, Against: 0)

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That £250 is made available for the Nappy Library Project.

(Vote: For: 4, Against: 0)

It was proposed by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That the attendance fee, travelling expenses and subsistence costs of the Chairman for attendance the Zero Carbon Britain Conference 4 / 5 December 2019 be met by the Council.

(Vote: For: 2, Against: 0, Abstention: 2)

 

The Chairman thanked the Members for their attendance and support. He concluded the Meeting at 7.42 pm.

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