Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda item

Agenda item

The Council's Work and Role in Tackling Climate Change


Officers attending for this Item were Liz Alston, Sustainability Manager (Worcestershire County Council) and Luke Willets, Director of Operations (Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)).


A detailed presentation had been circulated with the Agenda Papers. 


The key points included:

·         Worcestershire County Council (the Council) had a history of raising awareness of Climate Change and reducing carbon emissions through a number of strategies, written independently or in partnership, including with  the LEP

·         Projects included biomass heat at County Hall, solar panels on over 50 Council buildings (mainly schools), electric pool cars and sustainable new builds, such as the Hive in Worcester City

·         In May 2019, UK Parliament declared a Climate Emergency and the Government committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, recognising that much of this reduction must happen by 2030

·         Worcestershire’s CO2 emissions had dropped from 4.6m tonnes in 2005 to 3.3m tonnes in 2018, with 49% of the 3.3m tonnes of emissions currently coming from transport

·         According to the UK local authority and regional carbon dioxide emissions national statistics: 2005-2018 & WCC emissions data, the Council had indirect control of around 37,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions (i.e. waste, highways and fleet contracts) and around 12,000 tonnes direct control (i.e street lighting, property, vehicles etc).  However, it had an influencing role in respect of around 2.6m tonnes which was emitted through local transport, homes and businesses etc

·         Household waste accounted for around 67% of the CO2 emissions attributed to the County Council in 2018/19

·         A number of actions to lower or offset emissions were already underway, including energy efficiency measures in buildings and street lighting, the purchasing of green energy and a tree planting scheme

·         The Worcestershire LEP Energy Strategy (launched in March 2019) aimed for a 50% reduction in countywide carbon emissions by 2030, to triple renewable energy generation and to double the size of its low carbon economy, which meant that Worcestershire would need to adapt over the coming years

·         The LEP had a key role to play in identifying, co-ordinating and influencing opportunities and had a track record of strong stakeholder engagement and business representation, whereas the Council had a key role in development of strategy and was instrumental in project development and implementation, including lobbying and securing funding

·         15 new projects directly related to the targets and  themes of energy strategy were underway to an estimated value of £50m and  approximately 28,000 tonnes of carbon reduced per year when completed

·         Global temperatures were set to rise, with warmer wetter winters, hotter drier summers, increased rainfall and flooding and heatwaves predicted.  The Council had initiated a Joint Impact Assessment process which included consideration of the impact of severe weather and climate change, for any new Council project

·         Government strategies and consultations were moving on at pace and action locally was required.


In the ensuing discussion, the following points were made:


  • Noting that the some of the data presented was historic, it was clarified that UK data collection was always two years adrift.  In addition, when comparing Local Authorities, it was highlighted that there was no standard reporting mechanism, therefore caution was urged
  • As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national Lockdown, it was suggested that global CO2 emissions for 2020 may be up to 7% lower and around 36% lower for Worcestershire County Council
  • A Member asked what could be done to reduce household ‘green’ recycling contamination to be informed that District Councils promoted the ‘One Waste Worcestershire’ campaign, with Wychavon District Council cited as a good example of positive publicity.  In relation to whether an incentive was offered to the contractor, Members were advised that contracts would have to be looked into.  In addition, the Council could choose to award future contracts to include some reduction in carbon emissions
  • Developments in recycling have meant wider opportunities, such as the ability to recycle crisp packets and supermarkets and manufacturers were moving away from black plastic
  • In relation to projected County Council carbon emissions, it was noted that a dramatic drop was projected in 2039/2040, however, the figures were based on successfully implementing carbon capture from energy from waste by that time and a number of assumptions had also been made
  • When asked what the lifespan of the Energy from Waste facility was, the Cabinet Member responded by stating the current contract was until 2028 and that the facility was serviced every time it was shut down.  Sweden had built a facility on the edge of a City and the heat energy was used in that City.  The Panel was reminded that the current Worcestershire facility took around 20 years from inception to completion
  • In response to a query as to how Worcestershire compared to other Local Authorities, it was explained that some authorities were more ambitious than Worcestershire and also reported in different ways, therefore it was difficult to make comparisons
  • The slight increase in projected household waste carbon emissions was attributed to assumptions over future house building in the County
  • A Member was interested in seeing statistics over time on the savings achieved from energy from waste, which would be provided
  • In response to a query as to whether it was possible to increase the pace in tacking climate change, it was clarified that future innovations would have to work within budgets
  • The Panel noted that Bromsgrove was bidding to become a Green Town
  • The LEP had engaged in early conversations with businesses around renewable energy and the use of hydrogen, and a map from the evidence base for the Energy Strategy showing all renewable energy sources in the County would be forwarded to the Panel
  • An example was given whereby solar panels could have been successfully sited, however, they would have been unable to connect to the National Grid at that time owing to grid capacity issues
  • The Panel heard that the national planning framework and local planning policy would need to change to progress change as hoped
  • A Member asked that with the expected increase in flooding due to climate change, what is the Council doing to help communities build flood alleviation schemes?  In relation to climate change, the Cabinet Member highlighted that flooding resilience was vital for Worcestershire
  • Future transportation was also key, with new housing developments requiring appropriate cycleways and footways to promote active travel.


The following information was requested:


  • Detail on whether there was merit in sifting through contaminated household ‘green’ recycling loads
  • Guidelines around recycling of plastics and what was acceptable and what was not, in Worcestershire
  • KWh from Energy from Waste in comparison to tonnes of waste and how much energy was being generated but lost in heat – with statistics over time and comparisons with other Local Authorities
  • County map showing all renewable energy sites.

Supporting documents: