Report providing an overview of progress to date of work undertaken to understand South Kesteven District Council’s carbon footprint and possible projects to reduce carbon emissions.
The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations introduced the report and stated that the Council, since declaring a climate emergency, had made excellent progress. He spoke of the recommendations in the report and highlighted the depth of information and the suggested projects included within the Carbon Trust report. The Committee noted that some of the projects would not yet be technically or financially feasible but it was assumed that they would be in future.
The Sustainability and Climate Change Officer highlighted some projects that she believed would be ideal areas for the Council’s immediate ambitions. She spoke of the refurbishment works that were already planned at the offices within St Peter’s Hill and that solar panels, a new heating system and LED bulbs could be added to those plans. She spoke of her belief that energy management could be a good area for the Council’s immediate consideration.
In the longer term she spoke of the Council’s fleet of vehicles which accounted for 25% of the Council’s carbon emissions but warned against moving to electrification immediately to enable the examination of technical and financial issues in greater detail. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations spoke about the impact of Covid-19, which had reshaped the work of the Council’s core functions. He also spoke of the positive environmental impact of remote meetings and working from home.
A question was raised about whether, when fleet vehicles were due for replacement, electric vehicles were considered. Members also queried how the larger waste vehicles could move away from traditional fossil fuels. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations responded, stating that the Council had completed a two-year review of its fleet. It had identified that the two electric vehicles in use were not suitable for wider rollout because of their reduced range. He commented that the Council had limited use for the vehicles however he stressed that as technology improved, the Council would review the range of newer models. He added that the Council’s pool cars were not due for replacement for several years but post Covid-19 changes to working culture could result in a rationalisation of pool cars taking place. He informed Committee Members that the large waste vehicles could be replaced with hydrogen fuelled vehicles as technology improved. The Committee heard that the Council replaced three to four vehicles of this type each year, so when an alternative was found the replacements could follow this pattern.
The Committee received an update on electric vehicle charging points which were in place. Members were informed that when lockdown came into place, completion of the project was delayed. It was hoped that the points would be operational by end of the first week of August. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations informed the Committee that the Council was continuing to investigate funding opportunities to expand the number of charging points.
The Vice-Chairman asked about the replacement of streetlights with LED lamps. The Cabinet Member responded, stating that the numbers of LED lights were low because the Council had been examining internet of things smart street lighting. As the pilot project had yielded positive results, the Council was now ready to go to procurement. The Cabinet Member referred to the invest to save replacement programme, which had also been delayed pending the results of the smart streetlighting pilot scheme
A Member questioned if the Carbon Trust report had been amended from the internal version that had been shared with the climate change task and finish group. He was informed that no changes were made. The Member questioned if the proposed project at St Peter’s Hill should be a priority as it did not have the best return on investment. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations agreed that there were projects which provided a better return on investment but the shutdown of buildings as a result of Covid-19 and planned refurbishment works presented an opportunity.
The Cabinet Member went on to talk about the impact of Covid-19 on working arrangements which could affect the use of the Council’s buildings and needed to be considered. He believed that other improvement projects involving the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham and the Stamford Arts Centre could be undertaken whilst the buildings were out of use.
There was a discussion around planning policy and the opportunities the council had to improve the environmental impact of planning within the district however it was commented upon that the Councils remit to use planning policy was strongly influenced by national planning policy.
The Committee heard about the remit of the climate change task and finish group and how in the later stages of the Council’s work on climate change it could provide leadership, influencing other agencies, residents and businesses within the district. The committee heard that the task and finish group was next scheduled to meet in September 2020.
The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations spoke of his desire to learn the Committee’s priorities so that they could feed into the planning of future projects. A Member spoke of the need to move quickly in identifying projects for the Council to enter considerations around the budget at the earliest date. Members agreed that project management would have to be integrated with budget planning as many of these projects would run across multiple years.
A Member spoke of the new leisure centre and improvements to existing centres which were planned. She stressed her belief it was an opportune time to embed carbon reduction measures into these projects. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations agreed and advised that the Sustainability and Climate Change Officer was in contact with the project leads around this issue.
The Chair asked if there were other projects like the LED street lighting scheme that were in progress. The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations replied that there was a small fund of £20,000 to be used to complete small projects but that there were no projects in progress that were similar to the LED street lighting scheme in action.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the Committee was advised that plans for the refurbishment of the offices at St Peter’s Hill had been delayed because of Covid-19. Carbon reduction schemes would be considered as part of any refurbishment. The Vice-Chairman asked if any of the £20,000 fund had been spent. He was informed that it had not been used as the Council had waited for the carbon trust report to understand the Council’s baseline and identify projects.
A Member stated that there was an opportunity to use this money to fund improvements to Stamford Arts Centre, stating that it would provide an opportunity to broadcast the Council’s ambitions to upgrade community assets.
· Indicative costing to be carried out and distributed to member for the project to install solar panels on council buildings.
The Cabinet Member spoke of his ambition to take the priorities outlined by the Committee to create some proposals that could be brought back later for consideration. A member spoke of their desire to move forward in an efficient manner and to see progress with regard to the Council’s response to the climate emergency. The Cabinet Member agreed that speed was important but that the financial impacts were significant. He reminded members that the Council has a duty to deliver a balanced budget.
A Member who spoke stated that all council buildings, no matter where they were located in the district, needed to be examined for improvements that could be made to ensure the best return on investment. She warned against taking a view to improve only the St Peter’s Hill office just because it is the hub for the Council. The Cabinet Member agreed that return on investment was a key consideration but that cost per ton of carbon would also need to be examined to identify which projects would have the greatest impact.
The climate change task and finish group to receive proposals from the Strategic Director, Commercial and Operations for the use of the £20,000 fund in September.
1. Notes the progress to establish and understand South Kesteven District Council’s direct contribution to climate change in the form of organisational carbon emissions.
2. Recommends that the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations develops a phased carbon reduction plan and initiates feasibility assessments for priority carbon reduction projects outlined in the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Footprint and Reduction Opportunities report.
3. Recommends that the following carbon reduction initiatives should be prioritised:
· Solar panel installation on Council assets
· Improvements to Stamford Arts centre and The Guildhall
· LED street lighting
· Improvements to office space including fitting of LED lighting