Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance in writing or by email indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 3 August 2020). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/email address below.
The Chairman reported that 8 members of the public had submitted a question or comment in advance of the Meeting and confirmed that all submissions had been circulated to Members. A summary of the key points from the participants in attendance at the meeting was as follows:
· Mr Whiting referred to a Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Survey from May this year, which highlighted that 76% of the population was concerned or very concerned about climate change and that he was aligned with this concern.
· Failure to act on climate change would have an economic consequence, with the Bank of England stating that climate risk was also a source of financial risk.
· Mr Measham acknowledged that Worcestershire County Council (the Council) had a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 but was concerned that it had not declared a climate emergency, unlike other local authorities, such as Bromsgrove District Council, which was a missed opportunity.
· A recent Met Office report stated that there was now a 20% chance of the world temporarily reaching 1.5°C in the next five years and suggested that the Council should be describing this as an “Emergency” and leading the way for the County.
Pam McCarthy (the Chairman referred to the written submission as the participant attended the 21 July meeting which was abandoned due to technical difficulties and was unable to attend the rescheduled date)
· Whilst acknowledging and welcoming the work of the Council to date in tackling climate change, further progress was required at a faster rate. The Council’s current work programme and role in responding to the Government Report which stated that current rate of activity would not achieve targets by 2050 was questioned.
· The progress of neighbouring Councils, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire was highlighted.
· Much of the business sector was waiting for the Council to articulate plans for a sustainable future and an offer of signposting to good examples of progress was made.
· Dr Boatright talked about how heat and electricity was produced from waste and that both Germany and Sweden were harnessing the opportunity to a much greater extent than the UK.
· The work of Professor Martin Freer of the University of Birmingham (and Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and the Energy Research Accelerator) was referred to, noting that the UK generated 0.64 MWh/tonne of waste compared to Germany which generated 1.2 and Sweden 2.98 MWh/tonnes. Dr Boatright questioned how the Council planned to rectify this.
· Mr Cooke acknowledged that the Council had embraced sustainable and active travel, however, suggested that the current building of new roads and developments contradicted the existing programme.
· It was suggested that any new homes should be built to exacting standards, preferably PassivHaus, otherwise they would need an expensive retrofit to restrain emissions in the future. Norwich’s award-winning Goldsmith Street scheme was referred to.
· The Council needed to do more to raise the profile of climate change to residents, highlighting the long-term benefits, such as green space and healthier lifestyles.
· Mr Birks recognised the efforts made by the Council, however, there was concern about the lack of urgency and ambition in response to the Climate Emergency and the Council had a strategic, leading role.
· It was suggested that the Council should carry out a campaign to educate residents about the seriousness of the challenge and the need for urgent and transformative changes in the ways that we live, work and play.
· The Council should look wider than its own direct responsibilities and engage with all authorities, businesses and residents and be bold and creative in leading Worcestershire’s residents towards a genuinely sustainable and carbon neutral future.
· Mr Oliver refereed to page 15 of Agenda Item 5 (The Council’s Work and Role in Tackling Climate Change), in particular the graph showing the “Councils Historic and Projected Carbon Emissions 2009/10 – 2049/50. The line representing “household waste “rises steadily from 2017/18 to 2036/37 before falling rapidly. 3% of UK domestic greenhouse gas emissions came from food waste (14 million tonnes CO2e). The government had indicated that it would bring in legislation to compel local authorities to introduce separate food waste collections so that it can be treated without releasing carbon emissions. It was questioned why the Council was not planning to reduce emissions from food waste in the near future rather than wait for nearly 20 years.
The Chairman thanked participants for their contributions.