Minutes of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee Meeting held via Zoom, on Tuesday 7 July 2020 at 6.37 pm
Councillor J Herron
Councillor J Craigie (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
1 x Members of the Public
45. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
No apologies were received.
46. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
There were no Declarations of Interest.
47. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD
A representative of the North Devon Cycle Campaign, who had recently spoken at the Town Council Meeting of 25 June 2020, spoke on the aims of the group to improve health and help people with social cohesion. They have had three to four meetings but are predominantly centred on Barnstaple, Braunton and Saunton. He reiterated their desire to create a network of cycle paths in Bideford but expressed concern at the hazards presented in accessing the Tarka Trail from the West side of the water. He believed that if safeguards are not introduced it will be a missed opportunity.
Having been asked by the Council to investigate and provide detail for proposed routes he asked whether the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee could help.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 February 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)
49. WORKING GROUPS
a. Energy and Heat.
The Chairman advised that the installation of the Solar Panels on the Pannier Market roof will take place from 15 – 17 July 2020. He recognised the efforts of the former Chairman of the Renewable Energy Generation Committee and Councillor, Mr Joe Day who had extended so much effort to bring it to fruition.
Councillor Mrs Craigie suggested an official opening where Mr Day would be invited to attend; approaches could be made to the Market Management Committee.
The Chairman advised that the Action Plan grant application had faltered in the light of the Lottery Fund having pulled all monies as a result of COVID-19, where funds are restricted to immediate response.
He had been liaising with the “Decarbonisation Hub.” He will invite them to give a presentation at the next Meeting on the impact of COVID-19.
The Chairman is looking for more detail from other consultants in support of a grant application for Marine Energy.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer explained that everything is in place for the Nappy Library to operate, however, COVID-19 has delayed any activities.
The Chairman and Councillor Herron indicated that TDC had been unreceptive towards the “Tidal Barrage,” based on a survey that did not fit with advances in the field.
In trying to accommodate the North Devon Cycle Campaign group Councillor Mrs Craigie noted that a map, previously produced, did not have many cycle routes in Bideford but that they should be drafted into the Neighbourhood Plan.
Councillor Mrs Craigie did not favour E Scooters but would like to see E Golf Carts that could operate from the Quay and see charging at the Pannier Market.
Councillor Herron spoke in favour of E Scooters. He felt the need for discussion on transport within the Town citing concerns over a bus having mounted a pavement in Meddon Street. The Chairman concurred indicating the need for a review following a Town wide Transport Survey.
Councillor Herron believed that with the advent of a further 10,000 homes bringing 15,000 cars the introduction of pedestrianisation, other methods of transport, including E Bikes and Golf Buggies should be considered.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer would request a whole review from the DCC Traffic Management.
The Chairman highlighted the need for cycle paths / routes to be connected including traversing the Long Bridge.
c. Carbon sinks and biodiversity (CSB).
Councillor Herron spoke about an Appledore “apple tree” initiative that provided for lesson skills planned around woodlands. He intimated that it would be developing wider, outside Appledore.
He advised that the Dimpsey Woods website would be up and running soon. Two schools had responded to the seed collection initiative planned for November 2020.
The Chairman conceded that the verge seeding project earmarked for March 2020 was halted by the COVID-19 restrictions. He would attempt to muster volunteers to remove the grass cuttings from the verges providing for the nurturing of the soil and benefitting wildflowers.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer observed that there was a proliferation of wildflowers along Manteo Way as a result of cutting back “one mower’s width;” she reaffirmed
that the Bank was looking good.
Councillor Herron speculated on whether the Post Code gardener’s remit could be extended to edibles at Londonderry. He felt that it was important for the Community to grow food especially in the light of unemployment rates.
Councillor Mrs Craigie continued the theme highlighting the need to develop the Community Orchard along with the East-the-Water in Bloom project.
She spoke about an area near the Cycle track that could see the planting of smaller trees / soft fruits.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer highlighted the area opposite the Pannier Market that would benefit from the clearance of bushes that could be developed by the Sustainability Group.
Councillor Herron recounted a plan in Australia where 300 fruit trees had been purchased by a local authority but were left unattended and were all subsequently stolen. This was the intention, providing for the Community to effectively plant and nurture them. He would look to cost a similar project for recommendation to Council.
Further discussion explored incentives to develop car sharing, more environmentally friendly taxis and initial set up cost implications.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised that DCC will be rolling out Electrical Points across the County in response to Climate Change. She warned that bus routes are not viable in the light of Government advice (to minimise the use of public transport). She noted that buses with less than a handful of customers, on occasion only one traveller, could not be sustainable.
The Chairman and Councillor Herron reiterated that it would be interesting and exciting to see the result of a traffic survey.
Councillor Herron stated that now was the time to encourage people out of their cars and use alternative transport to commute. Councillor Mrs Craigie commented that she would like to see the return of a Bideford Hopper (Electric) Bus.
Councillor McKenzie referenced the local job market, and the need for people to travel to Barnstaple and Exeter for work. Investment in local infrastructure was needed; Councillor Herron agreed that more public transport was needed.
Councillor Mrs Craigie believed that an electric minibus would keep people local and sustain local shops. People would simply “hop on” and shop more frequently in Bideford.
Councillor McKenzie felt that the high rents, out of Town shopping and the link road / Torridge Bridge that directed people away from the Town had combined to challenge the Town Centre but noted that this was not unique to Bideford.
50. CO-OPTION OF PUBLIC MEMBER TO THE COMMITTEE
Members discussed the co-option of a public member, recognising the skillset that Mr Day possess with his enthusiasm and knowledge. Someone with expertise in renewable energy and knowledge of the area would be ideal.
The Chairman agreed to approach Petroc and Bideford College; he would provide detail to be posted on the Council’s social media / website platforms.
The Chairman thanked the Members for their attendance and support. He concluded the Meeting at 7.20 pm.