Climate Action plan consultation response

22 July 2021

Harborough DC Climate Emergency Consultation Questions

 

Please find the submission from the Harborough, Oadby & Wigston Green party. We recognise and commend the actions undertaken and the ambition in the statement however we feel that the council is attempting to limit its commitment to Scope 1 (Councils direct activities) emissions. For the Councils true emissions to be tackled Scope 2 (Councils directly procured emissions) and Scope 3 (Emissions from Council procured services, waste collection and transfer)

We further recognise that no commitments are made for actions to reduce the emissions in the geographical area that is represented by the Council, the wider community, industry, retail, transport and agriculture. For this to be a meaningful action plan all of these must be included.

We note that Leicestershire County Council has enrolled to UK100 which is a commitment to deal with these wider geographic emissions from Leicestershire and so we strongly recommend that Harborough District Council also enrol and work with LCC on these issues where responsibility is shared between the two tiers of local government.

Please find our other recommendations below.

 

The Council commits to demonstrate political and corporate leadership in acting on climate change.      

2. What else can the council do, given that not all areas of activity are the responsibility of the council?

  • Become accredited as a Carbon literate Council

https://carbonliteracy.com/organisation/become-a-clo/

  • Review the Local Plan and other Plans and Policies to ensure they support reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Ensure that climate impact is embedded in all council decision making
  • Ensure that all employees pension assets are invested in sustainable funds which necessarily excludes all corporates engaged in fossil fuel exploration and supply
  • Lobby national government for changes in planning and transport laws and for more resources to tackle the climate crisis
  • Join UK 100 Group - UK100 is the only network for UK locally elected leaders who have pledged to play their part in the global effort to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by switching to 100% clean energy by 2050. Leicestershire County council have joined and so a combined & coordinated approach would save resources.

UK100 | An ambitious network of 100+ UK local authorities | UK100

  • Employ triple bottom line accounting (financial, social, environmental benefits / costs) to prioritise environmentally positive projects
  • Produce regular annual carbon reports covering all activities that are transparent and accessible to all and with the raw data sets open to public scrutiny.
  • Ensure CO2e reductions are included in neighbourhood plans, local plans, spatial reviews etc.,

3. Who should we be working with?

Your environmental audit should pinpoint all stakeholders, but I imagine this will include:

  • The entire Council supply chain network to influence behaviour in accordance with the Council’s green objectives
  • Pension providers: including the LGPS Central Fund and the LCC Pension Fund and all asset managers that are involved in advising the choice of funds, most of Leicestershire’s councils have declared Climate emergencies and yet the pension fund still insists on investing in fossil fuels.
  • Employees: training across the board to provide specialists in every department; ensure everyone understands they are working to a clear carbon budget; prioritisation given to climate change in every decision by the executive, planning committee and scrutiny committee
  • Local environmental groups: making use of the wealth of knowledge and commitment that is in the community already; eg

Climate Action, Leicester, Leicestershire

Sustainable Harborough Community

Harborough Woodland

Harborough Energy

Harborough Eco village

Leics & Rutland Wildlife Trust

Welland Partnership

Harborough, Oadby & Wigston Green Party

 

Plus National groups eg Woodland Trust, Green Building Advisory Service

  • Work with other councils, particularly Leicester City and Leicestershire CC to spread ideas, best practice and increase influence
  • Work with local schools to include Climate awareness as part of their curriculum, Dale Vince of Ecotricity has created a climate curriculum that is currently being trialled.

 

4. How do we best engage with MPs?

  • We assume there is a regular engagement already with the sitting MP, Neill O’Brien ! if you don’t, then a line of communication should be sought as a matter of urgency;
  • MPs need to be engaged with the issues and what is required to resolve the issue
  • work with other local councils across the country to employ best practice (there is already the combined authority approach in waste)
  • Make use of lobbying to influence planning and transport laws in favour of the council’s green objectives
  • National planning law needs to require all new buildings to be highly insulated and to include renewable energy generation like solar panels

The Council commits to managing its own assets and services, with the aim of reducing carbon emission to net zero by 2030, as far as practical.

5. It will be difficult to move away from gas heating, how do we best address this?

For the Council assets

  • Refurbish the Leisure centre, do not replace it, replace plant with low carbon technologies (I am sure Harborough Energy would be interested, solar PV on roof, wind on the ridge, solar thermal for the pool heating) but you can immediately switch off the diesel generator that powers the fan on the inflatable football pitch that has been running 24/7 since its installation
  • A full building fabric assessment should be made by a Retrofit assessor. Interventions to reduce the heating load should be considered and/or capex should be assigned for replacing the boilers with heat pump technology.

The wider community

  • Absolutely vital that planning consents given to developers contain conditions regarding electric powered heating systems including, but not exclusively, heat pumps. The expectation is that hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas will be feasible in the near future and therefore all boilers must be compatible with this conversion
  • Solar on all viable council roofs in the next 5 years and support for solar on all privately owned roofs
  • Licensing scheme for all private landlords requiring them to improve energy efficiency to high levels
  • Training people to insulate their own homes – there will not be enough professionals to do this work
  • Promote ‘Rent-a-Room’ schemes with council support (credit risk checks etc.) to generate tax-free income which can be used to improve insulation – this has add-on benefits in satisfying housing demand and improving mental wellbeing
  • Sponsor, with partners, a community retro-fitting co-operative (to insulate homes)

https://retrofitworks.co.uk/community-groups/

  • Advisory service to access grants and advice to promote insulation, solar panels. PV cells, heat pump systems. A trusted voice and signposting service
  • Work with Harborough Energy
  • Work with partners to encourage businesses to reduce energy / carbon – insulation, led lighting, solar panels, PV cells, wind etc
  • Supplementary planning conditions to require new builds to meet highest environmental standards
  • Lobby hard with partners and councils to demand that government grants / schemes are run through local councils – trusted organisations – to maximise take up, impact and run ethically

.

6. What do we need to include in our procurement processes to reduce emissions?

  • All your suppliers must be able to submit environmental/CO2e emission audit assessments as a condition of their continued supply
  • You should set minimum standards against which suppliers compete for contracts, eg, they must be Carbon Literate
  • Procurement contracts should embed the requirement for CO2e reduction plans with Net zero being achieved at the soonest possible time. For instance, all waste collection and transfer vehicles to be Zero emissions, Likewise for parks maintenance and street cleansing contracts.
  • Procurement should not just be awarded to the lowest tender, financial, environmental and social costs should be considered equally. (Part of the triple bottom line accounting)
  • Continuous monitoring of progress to these plans is essential with penalties embedded in the contracts
  • Where the CO2e scope is beyond Scope 3 but known, such as the incineration of waste collected through the black bin and Recycling residue, the council must include this in its annual reporting as it directly causes these emissions through the structure of its contracts.
  • Work with other councils & purchasing organisations (eg ESPO) to set common standards and maximise impacts
  • Ban single-use plastics and require meat-free and low waste catering in council premises and events
  • Tree planting targets for the council to plant far more trees (mostly nut and chestnut) on its own land and on green spaces and encourage others to do the same
  • YOUR COMMUNITY, if you feel you do not have sufficient remit then a citizens assembly should be formed to advise on what policies the council should implement.

The Council commits to working with residents and communities to support their actions in reducing emissions and help them increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

7. How can we encourage more people to reduce their own emissions, without incentives?

  • If there is no scope for incentives, and here you must lobby Central government to provide the tools to do it, then disincentivising the wrong behaviour is the next option, such measures as restricting cars in public places such as town centres
  • A system of park-and-ride may be beneficial
  • You should consider property EPC ratings when calibrating council tax valuations
  • Encourage local schools to instigate meat-free days and reduce meat and dairy in their meals – this dietary change will spread to many private households
  • Train people in repair and promote businesses with these specialist skills
  • Introduce a climate education strategy employing an Environment Education Team to support individuals, schools and businesses
  • Establish a trusted advice service that the Energy savings Trust would have provided before they were defunded.
  • Demonstration sites so people can get to understand the available technologies
  • Train and retain the services of 2-3 Retrofit assessors
  • Offer targeted energy efficiency audits to homes, particularly older properties
  • Launch a Green Bond to raise money for Green initiatives which will allow some incentives

https://www.edie.net/news/10/West-Berkshire-Council-launches--UK-s-first--resident-funded-green-bond/?utm_source=dailynewsletter,%20edie%20daily%20newsletter&utm_medium=email,%20email&utm_content=news&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter,%20e1779c0a88-dailynewsletter_COPY_843

8. How can we encourage more people to move to sustainable transport, including walking and cycling?

  • Again I come back to restricting cars in the town centre
  • Using park-and-ride schemes with electric transport from out-of-town car parks
  • This has the enormous benefit of improving air quality in the town and making it much safer for pedestrians and cyclists; that will be enough to incentivise people to walk and cycle
  • Introduce pre-announced improvements so that residents know the trend is way from cars, such as:
    • Congestion charge in the town centre along with an extension to the blue badge scheme; used to fund the park-and-ride scheme and bus passes for low-income residents
    • Close streets outside schools at pick-up and drop-off time; school-age bus travel to be free
    • 20 mph town limit on all roads to reduce air pollution and make cycling safer; all limits to be enforced by speed camera NOT speedbumps which accentuate air pollution
    • More bus and segregated cycle lanes created by making the roads one-way for cars
    • Stop car access to town centre side streets to pedestrianise them and provide space for open-air cafes and restaurants. This could be done at weekends, so gradually so people can see the benefits. A traffic free town centre could host festivals, music, performance, art etc. Doing this regularly will get people into the habit of visiting on traffic free days
    •  
    • Introduce low traffic neighbourhoods / shared streets initiatives
    • The Council needs to be allowed to run its own not-for-profit public transport service
    • Encouraging local employers keeping close to the town is a good way to reduce commuting
    • Provide secure cycle storage in the town centre, covered by monitored CCTV
    • Engage with taxi drivers to encourage a shift towards electric or low emission vehicles with a view to only licensing non-internal combustion energy taxis from Jan 2022. Apply increased permit costs for the most polluting vehicles operating as taxis.
    • Only allow electric Ice-cream vans from the end of 2021. No more idling diesel engines among crowds of children.
    • Lobby Leicestershire County Council and bus operators to move to an all electric fleet as soon as possible
    • Sponsor a car share app / scheme and electric car club
    • Extend cycle purchase schemes to electric bicycles
    • AN INTEGRATED TRANSPORT STRATEGY based on travel census to establish what is really required

 

9. What else can we do in relation to promoting local food and local food growing?

  • Provide / facilitate land for allotments – all have long waiting lists
  • Provide / facilitate land for small holdings
  • A decade ago Transition Town market Harborough approached HDC to create a permaculture community farm on the Naseby square disused garage site. Support is required to find a suitable semi urban site where such a farm (2-5 acres) can be established as this would be an important local educational facility, green tourism destination as well as provider of wholesome food.

 

10. How can we best encourage better public transport and lift sharing?

  • Ensure current services are reliable (currently cancellations make service unreliable)
  • Council to develop own services based on community transport schemes elsewhere
  • Council to promote a selected lift sharing application

The Council commits to working with businesses to support their actions in reducing emissions and help them increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

11. How can we best engage with businesses?

  • Provide consultation and advice on sustainability to help businesses choose the most sustainable suppliers through group contract arrangements negotiated by the Council
  • The Council’s legal department will need to alert local business to the risks of ‘Climate Crime’ in respect of which we are seeing increasing litigation across the world
  • Advisory / signposting services (with partners) to encourage energy / carbon savings; encourage tree planting, planting for insects
  • Convene energy reduction workshops to support businesses, particularly smaller SMEs
  • Release an annual state of the town report which details economic, social and environmental factors (The Sustainable Harborough project release a proof of concept report)

12. How can we promote our good practice to encourage others to do the same?

  • First and foremost, make sure your practice is indeed ‘good’, then you can justifiably promote it
  • If you disincentivise bad practice, you will encourage the many good businesses to relocate and thrive
  • Encourage local community energy generation with local involvement – we already have Harborough Energy, but to my knowledge the Council has never promoted it – this could power district heat pumps or provide local electricity at lower cost for residents
  • Biomass is not proven as a sustainable fuel and should be avoided
  • Provide tools and training for carbon footprinting – develop a rating system to say how they are doing publicly; offer awards; give examples of basic things they could do to get the best rating which they could then use in marketing and public relations – examples such as:
    • Buying green electricity
    • % of profit invested in insulation
    • Support for staff not to drive to work
    • Work with parish councils and other landowners to develop pollinator sites
    • Initiate a 5 year, district wide Climate awareness program to ensure the problem is understood and to dispel the normal denier arguments. We need to bring the community to consensus so they work with us.
    • Create a partner/stakeholder group to help co-ordinate district-wide action and provide external scrutiny
    • Create a dedicated Climate officer role

The Council commits to ensuring that new development is designed to mitigate emissions and be resilient to the impacts of climate change.

13. Should we ask developers to build to higher standards?

  • Supplementary planning guidance should be implemented to enforce higher standards
  • Yes, it should be a condition of any planning permission that all new-build are to PassiveHaus standards.
  • There neds to be a carrot/stick for developers so maybe fast-track planning permission for developments within the local plan which will be build to high standards of insulation, increase proportions of social housing and discourage car use and implement CIL charges for lower standard builds where higher standards cannot be enforced.
  • Implement supplementary planning conditions to ensure new builds meet high environmental standards
  • Ensure compliance with TPOs and punitive fines for ignoring them
  • Carry out a call for sites to identify land suitable for renewable technology developments
  • Engage in the Western Power Distribution development of a Local Area Energy action plan
  • Include support for District heating Schemes in new developments

 

14. How can we ensure developments are resilient to climate change?

Introduce a policy in the local plan to require developers to show how new developments are designed to adapt to climate change including use of green and brown roofs, solar shading, thermal mass, heating and ventilation of the building, tree planting to provide shading and help to connect habitat

Client Earth have written to authorities with the threat of legal action if local plans are produced without a robust Climate action plan, this will apply if HDC revisits their Local plan.

https://www.clientearth.org/latest/press-office/press/lawyers-put-local-authorities-on-notice-over-climate-inaction/

Homes designed to be at least carbon neutral and water efficient to include the following:

  • High levels of insulation (PassiveHaus) to minimise heating and cooling energy requirements
  • Design adaptations to reduce solar gain in times of heat stress, natural or low carbon cooling systems.
  • Solar thermal for hot water and solar photovoltaics for electricity – housing oriented to maximise heat and generation
  • Heating via heat pumps – ideally community-based
  • Rainwater collection and water saving features
  • Deeper foundations, Harborough has a lot of clay which will shrink in the case of a long drought and cause subsidence.

Probably the single most important thing is enabling people to stay local, avoid energy use and help with mental health:

  • Provide schools, health and community facilities – carbon zero schools that can be used by the community in the evenings
  • Community hubs scattered over new developments to provide such as:
    • Shops including food and encouraging independent local businesses
    • Public toilets
    • Parcel pick-up and drop-off using smart lockers
    • Secure bike and mobility scooter storage
    • Electric bike and car charging points
    • Bike and car share hire points
    • Bus stops
    • Pick-up point for school ‘walking-bus’
    • Children’s play area
    • Green space with trees for shade as a community information and meeting point

 

Leicestershire is the county with the second lowest level of tree cover; with around 70% of trees being Ash, a large proportion of which will die back over next 5 years. There needs to be a Woodland Management Plan in the District but part of a wider county plan

Improving new developments is the easy part, we need to adapt our solid walled Victorian properties and our poorly constructed newer houses, we need to initiate a Retrofit task force to evaluate what would be needed to achieve this.

 

15. How should we help developers build more biodiverse space with good space for water?

Green and blue infrastructure to mitigate the effects of climate change needs to be implicit in planning consents:

  • Developments should be built as communities and not just a site where you can shoehorn in as many houses as possible, there is an adage that community space creates community. Long streets where people only know their immediate neighbours are in start contrast to houses that are build around a community space where they all meet and have community events.
  • Shade trees in all streets to reduce overheating in summer and reduce wind-chill in winter
  • SUDs drainage, ponds and water courses
  • Minimisation of hard areas and maximisation of natural ground (also to facilitate food growing)
  • Support for rewilding in areas of the natural ground to support biodiversity
  • Requirements for Hedgehog highways in all developments
  • Promote wild gardens as a positive thing and restrict consents of hard-paved areas
  • Create networks of wildlife ponds, volunteers will be glad to deliver
  • Pollinator friendly plantings with year round food sources for bees
  • Required as part of planning conditions; requirement to have landscape plans approved by Leics & Rutland Wildlife Trust
  • Local affordable housing goes hand-in-hand with the encouragement of localism in employment; this should include a range of sizes and prices, both private owned and rental tenure, at least 15% affordable and 15% social housing

 

The Council commits to working in partnership to promote resilient natural systems that will help to reduce the impacts of climate change.

16. What more do we need to do to try to reduce flood risk to settlements?

As above:

  • SUDs drainage, ponds and water courses
  • Minimisation of hard areas and maximisation of natural ground for rewilding and also to facilitate food growing
  • Work with partners and water authorities to increase tree cover in catchments and slow down rivers / brooks by reintroducing meanders and leaky barriers
  • New burial facilities to be Green burial sites

17. How can we best work with landowners to promote tree planting, hedge maintenance and biodiversity?

  • The Council should employ an ecologist with the mandate to advise local landowners, support their involvement in the ‘Green Revolution’ and make use of voluntary groups who are well versed in tree planting and working with landowners
  • Use crowdfunding to pay the additional staff costs
  • Access volunteers through partners and businesses (as part of their corporate social responsibility agenda)

18. How can we help parishes deliver more tree planting?

  • By funding the provision of saplings and making use of local voluntary tree planting groups
  • Work with parish councils, tree wardens to promote opportunities for tree planting to land owners; with offer of volunteer help
  • Launch a Harborough forest project, raise money to buy land close to Harborough for wildlife and public amenity.
  • Where the Council is responsible for Nature reserves/SSSIs there should be robust management plans (So the land is not degraded like Scraptoft) and protections in the local plan to ensure they do not get built upon (Like Scraptoft and Misterton SSSI)

19. Do you agree with our climate commitments?

Yes / No / Other (please specify)

We agree with your climate commitments, but they do not go anywhere near far enough to alleviate or adapt to the effects of the climate crisis

 






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