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To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors H Farbahi, A Govier, S Nicholls and A Sully.
Declarations of Interest
To receive and note any declarations of disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial or personal interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.
(The personal interests of Councillors and Clerks of Somerset County Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)
Members present at the meeting declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Councillor or Clerk of a County, Town or Parish Council or any other Local Authority:-
The following councillors further declared an interest:-
Councillor J Hassall as the Chair of Rail Future; Councillor A Trollope-Bellew as the owner of three sets of solar panels and land that was used for growing crops for bio-digester, as well as being recommended to install an EV Charging Point on land he owned. Also as a member of Quantock Eco and Friends of the Quantocks; Councillor R Habgood as a member ... view the full minutes text for item 51.
Public Participation - To receive only in relation to the business for which the Extraordinary Meeting has been called any questions, statements or petitions from the public in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 14,15 and 16
The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.
For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.
Temporary measures during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Due to the Government guidance on measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will holding meetings in a virtual manner which will be live webcast on our website. Members of the public will still be able to register to speak and ask questions, which will then be read out by the Governance and Democracy Case Manager during Public Question Time and will either be answered by the Chair of the Committee, or the relevant Portfolio Holder, or be followed up with a written response.
Bryony Chetwode spoke on agenda item 7, Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy and SWT Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Plan:-
Q1. Could the Council explain how it could both support the Climate Emergency Strategy at the same time as planning to develop the bus station into parking?
Q2. On behalf of our members we asked that the Council integrated their thinking and took a positive, meaningful, collaborative approach to connectivity for the people of the town and surrounding area.
Q3. Could those with responsibility for action addressing the Climate Emergency tell us how they planned to ensure other portfolio holders actively engaged with them to prevent counter-productive projects?
Q4. Could the Councillors involved promise to actively engage the community before deciding whether/how to implement schemes?
There wasn't a vision of a sustainable, working transport system for connecting us with work, place, and play within the Strategy which had left the door open for schemes which encouraged congestion, pollution and carbon. An urgent strong additional element of instruction needed in the strategy document. This would provide a prevailing vision which other teams would have to look to instead of planning for further carbonisation.
Bryony Chetwode, TravelWatch SouthWest CIC
Nigel Behan spoke on agenda item 7, Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy and SWT Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Plan:-
In paragraph 3.4 it stated that:
“Despite the production of the CNCR Action Plan and Somerset-wide Strategy, Climate Change itself remained a major risk, and likely would do even if every identified action was delivered here because the issue was a global one. For this reason the Somerset-wide Strategy contained goals aiming at decarbonisation of the Councils themselves (mitigation); decarbonisation of Somerset as a whole (mitigation); and creating a resilient Somerset ready for projected impacts (adaptation), and the CNCR Action Plan was entitled Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience and included actions aiming to ensure the Council and district were resilient to the projected impacts climate change.”
Q1. How could SWT ensure that cross boundary (other areas/councils etc.) actions didn’t have an adverse impact and ensured there would be integrated working with other public bodies etc?
And Public Finance recently reported:
“Many local authorities and governments had declared climate emergencies, but although responding to the coronavirus had taken up most of their attention for the past eight months or so, Bedford stressed that environmental issues had not gone away.
“This wasn’t a new risk, but it’s striking harder than many expected,” she said.
Natural disasters such as heat waves, wildfires and droughts, which threatened lives as well as assets and supplies of necessities such as food, were becoming more frequent and more intense.
In recent years, threats from climate change had been steadily climbing insurers’ risk lists, and Bedford said that Covid-19 must not allow them to fall back down compared to the more short-term (in relation to climate change) economic risks.
Bedford said organisations should identify the risks climate change posed to them specifically, and ensured plans were not only fit for ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
To receive any communications or announcements from the Chair of the Council
The Chair of the Council did not have any announcements to make.
To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council
The Leader of the Council highlighted the campaign to reinstate free meals for children during the school holidays and that she would keep the councillors updated of any progress made with the local councils in the Somerset area.
To receive only in relation to the business for which the Extraordinary Meeting has been called any questions from Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13
No questions were received in relation to Procedure Rule 13.
This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Councillor Peter Pilkington.
The purpose of the Strategy is to provide a strategic overview of the key issues facing Somerset and the Councils in relation to the climate emergency and our shared ambition to work towards carbon neutrality for the county of Somerset by 2030 and to provide a strategic basis for partnership working going forwards on addressing these issues together, where a shared approach would be appropriate and improve the chances of delivery.
The CNCR Action Plan sits alongside the Somerset-wide Strategy as the detail for how this Council proposes to address the specific issues, meet the goals and deliver on the outcomes that the Somerset-wide Strategy identifies.
During the discussion, the following points were raised:-
· Councillor P Pilkington, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, proposed the recommendations and Councillor D Darch seconded.
· Councillors stated that the Climate Strategy was a well-researched document with broader input from all councils within the County, which they urged Full Council to approve.
· Councillors stated that the Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan (CNCR) was a further detailed plan for the Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) area. The CNCR would be a working document that could be regularly reviewed and updated.
· Councillor D Mansell proposed the following two amendments during the debate:-
2.1) The Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy was adopted and a cross-party steering group be set-up to oversee delivery and development of the strategy, with quantified sector pathways to be established that worked towards a carbon neutral Somerset by 2030.
Proposed by Councillor Mansell and seconded by Councillor Lloyd.
2.5) A report on allocations for the £500k “Climate Change Fund” budget be taken at an early stage to Scrutiny Committee for comment.
Proposed by Councillor Mansell and seconded by Councillor Stone.
Councillors debated the amendments:-
· Concern was raised that the Working Group had been delayed several times due to the General Election in December 2019 and due to the Covid Pandemic.
· Further concern was raised that the Strategy did not highlight the urgency of the action required and that more work was required.
· Concern was raised that the section on public transport was lacking in-depth information.
· Concern was raised on the finances included in the report and further councillor involvement was requested, which was the reason recommendation 2.5 had been added.
· Councillors debated the role of the Scrutiny Committee and whether the additional recommendation 2.5 was required.
Clarification was given that there had been cross party involvement in both the Climate Strategy and the CNCR.
· The amendment was taken to the vote and recommendation 2.1 was lost and recommendation 2.5 was carried and became part of the substantive motion.
· Councillors debated the wording for recommendation 2.3.
The Assistant Director for Climate Change gave clarification that the Climate Strategy covered the county actions and the CNCR covered local actions for SWT. Amended wording was given, which the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and seconder of the motion accepted.
· Councillors agreed that lots of good work had been achieved on both documents and they thanked officers for their hard work.
Resolved that Full Council approved that:-
1) The Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy was adopted;
2) The Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan was approved;
3) A local multi agency climate emergencytask force was established to aid delivery and implementation of the Somerset wide Strategy;
4) A supplementary “Climate Change Fund” budget of £500,000 was approved within the General Fund 2020/21 Revenue Budget, funded from General Reserves, for the delivery of Somerset West and Taunton priority actions with delegated authority to the Director External Operations and Climate Change/Assistant Director Climate Change, Regulatory Services and Asset Management to agree those priority ... view the full minutes text for item 56.