Minutes of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Bideford, on Tuesday 10 September 2019 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor J Herron

South Ward:

Councillor B Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor J Craigie (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor J McKenzie

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor P Christie (Mayor)

16.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor Mrs L Hellyer (East Ward – personal).

17.      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

There were no declarations of interest.

18.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD

Councillor Christie stated that he had been working with Mr Jenkin, completing the Heritage Statement in support of the applications for the Pannier Market solar panelling.

19.      MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 June 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)

20.      FUNDING FOR TAW TORRIDGE ESTUARY ENERGY FEASIBILITY STUDY

Councillor Herron advised that he had met a representative from Catapult Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) who specialise in promoting and setting up tidal schemes. While enthusing about the opportunity he did recommend liaising with those North Devon AONB / Biosphere representatives to establish what cannot be accomplished.
The Chairman spoke of a meeting with members of the Harbour Board that discussed the pros and cons of the given technology; he spoke of locations where hydro works would be sited (at the top of the estuary) and tidal initiatives (at the end).

Discussion followed including obstructing the river flow with lock gates, not unlike the Thames Barrier. Councillor McKenzie raised concerns about the impact upon sensitive habitats. Councillor Herron noted the tidal range of four to eight meters, twice a day that could be exploited.

The Chairman advised that the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) had received new Government funding and, having contacted them, they would be happy to consider another bid for funding given that it would involve separate technology (to that of the previous successful grant): generation of energy from the estuary within the Parish.

The Chairman invited Councillor Herron to raise the paperwork.

Councillor Herron suggested linking with North Devon (Councils). The Chairman suggested a meeting with Councillor Mrs Lever (lead in Climate Change – North Devon Council) and Councillor Hames to discuss informal ideas.

Further discussion included (Councillor Herron) liaison with the Harbour Board and invitation to Andy Bell, North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Co-ordinator to address the next Decarbonisation and Environment Committee Meeting.

Councillor Christie advised that a large tidal barrier could not be introduced and that Bideford’s direct interest in the Torridge ends at Riverbank House. He noted that there was very little land available to Bideford and that the Christie Estate and other Parishes would need to be approached.

Discussion followed on the semantics of the Local and Neighbourhood Plans

Councillor Mrs Craigie asked who would be engaged with grant funding of £20,000; the Chairman advised that specialist consultancies would be approached.

It was proposed by Councillor J McKenzie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That an application to the Rural Community Energy Fund is submitted for a feasibility study of obtaining energy from the Taw Torridge Estuary.

(Vote: For: 5, Against: 0)

21.      FUNDING APPLICATION FOR SOLAR PROJECTS

With reference to the SWW Cornborough (Abbotsham) initiative, that could support a 100 kWh array at a cost of £100,000, the Chairman explained carbon savings benefits made from an initiative outside the Parish could offset those emissions from within the Parish. It was noted that the Ashford concern was not financially viable and would not be pursued.

In terms of processing the Cornborough Project the Clerk asked how it would be resourced. The Chairman confirmed that both he personally and Mr Day would be staffing the process. Notwithstanding that the Cornborough works handles Bideford’s sewage he indicated that there was a clear community benefit. He confirmed solar panelling on East-the-Water School and the Children’s Centre were other projects of interest.

The Cornborough initiative would see rent paid for one third of an acre of farmland, where the solar array would be sited. SWW would draw the electricity and pay a favourable tariff but also benefit from reducing their emission. The Chairman confirmed that the role of the Council would be one of facilitator. A Community Interest Company could be created who would own the panels and distribute the funds. He noted that the Devon Energy Collective can provide advice and support.

Councillor McKenzie expressed concerns over liability and responsibility should anything go wrong.

The Chairman stated that there would be no risk to the Council. The Community Group would have limited liability and protections in place. SWW would simply pay for the electricity it used; the assets would be realised and used to offset any debt.

He explained that the Council would benefit from the kudos for the bankable carbon savings to the Community.

The Clerk wondered if leading with the East-the-Water School would not be highly visual to the Community generally and directly beneficial to the School.

The Chairman indicated that there would be a greater return in the first instance from the Cornborough project which would support greater investment of resource into the School; this was eminently preferable to the reverse, he explained.

Councillor Mrs Craigie cited evidence, from a magazine, where a council had seen benefit of £1.2 million to local services through solar investment.

Discussion followed where there was a call for greater clarity; Councillor Herron suggested a simple diagram / chart. The Clerk suggested that the Chairman write a report and provide a presentation to the Council.

It was proposed by Councillor J McKenzie, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That the item is deferred.

(Vote: For: 4, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

22.      DECARBONISATION TRANSPORT ACTION PLAN

The Chairman stated that in order to achieve goals plans were needed.

Councillor Herron said that Transport accounted for twenty-five per cent of carbon emissions.

Councillor Wootton spoke about vehicle parking, buses, vehicles travelling at constant speed and optical fibre conduits for new homes to encourage greater home working opportunities.

Councillor Herron advocated car sharing – commutes to Barnstaple where people shared the journey.
The Chairman suggested advice / expertise could be “bought in”.

It was noted that Braunton are looking at a light Electric Tram scheme using the former railway link between Barnstaple and Braunton. Members felt that a similar idea could be considered linking Bideford with Barnstaple and Torrington.

Councillor Herron stated that a highly successful tram initiative had been introduced in Croydon, London. He also speculated on flat bed water taxis that could link the two main Towns.

Councillor McKenzie highlighted that the current infrastructure was being lost through cuts in bus routes.

Councillor Herron conceded that it would be a challenge to realise initiatives at a local level.

The Clerk suggested that children are very “climate” aware and by introducing the topic at schools (through leaflets) could see them influence more senior members of their families to make changes e.g. not defaulting to the car, for short journeys perhaps walk. He noted the newly refurbished Quay road and suggested encouragement for more dedicated cycle lanes / provision.

The Chairman conceded that it was a big challenge; he reiterated purchasing information and calling a citizen’s assembly to discuss the issue.

Councillor McKenzie did not believe that the Committee was the appropriate forum to consider the item citing lobbying DCC who are the transport authority. He stressed that a centralised system would not work for the rural community highlighting the different circumstances for Croydon, London and Manchester etc.

Councillor Mrs Craigie agreed that pressure should be applied to DCC noting that they were investing £250,000 to investigate the topic.

Councillor McKenzie proposed that a Decarbonisation Transport Action Plan and application for funding is not pursued.

Councillor Mrs Craigie suggested that new estates could have dedicated cycle tracks. She felt this could be written into the Neighbourhood Plan. Similarly, s106 monies could provide for car charging points to be installed.

It was proposed by Councillor Mrs Craigie, seconded by Councillor Wootton and recommended that Decarbonisation Transport initiatives are considered by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

It was proposed by Councillor Herron, seconded by Councillor J Craigie that a Decarbonisation Transport Action Plan and application for funding is pursued.

RECOMMENDED: That Decarbonisation Transport initiatives are considered by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

(Vote: For: 3, Against: 2)

23.      UPDATE: CARBON SINKS AND BIODIVERSITY WORKING GROUPS

Members noted the Nappy library report provided by Councillor Mrs Hellyer.

Councillor Herron advised that he had received communication from a school following the creation of a Facebook Page dedicated to Acorn Planting; an event is being planned for the Pannier Market.

24.      BIDEFORD PANNIER MARKET PV

It was noted that Sun Gift have agreed a system size and price that enables the project to progress. Mr Jenkin has liaised with them in submitting the planning applications.

The Chairman thanked the Members for their attendance and support. He concluded the Meeting at 8.02 pm.

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