A report by the Assistant Director - Regulatory
The Climate Change and Environment Officer presented an update to the report confirming two amendments to the report tabled.
The first was that the Carbon Reduction Action Plan had been renamed following the recent Cabinet briefing to avoid any unfortunate acronyms based on its original name and would hereon in be known as the Net Zero Action Plan. The second update being that plans were now in place to update the GMLP and the Action Plan would be amended to reflect that.
Following adoption of the carbon reduction plan in January 2022 and cabinet’s agreement to amend the previous net zero target a net zero action plan had been developed. That action plan set out the projects required to further investigate the feasibility of the recommendations put forward by the Carbon trust and to provide a clear timescale for the delivery. Decarbonisation strategies would be developed for all operational Council buildings to inform the actions to be taken forward in relation to those buildings. A free Government funded fleet review was due to be undertaken by the Energy Saving rust which would provide a valuable insight and inform future actions in relation to the fleet and identify sites with the best potential for accommodating EV charging points. The fleet actions currently identified in the net zero action plan would be subject to change dependant on the outcomes of the review.
Officers had made significant strides towards the targets for reducing carbon emissions. Achieving net zero would be dependent on the recommended actions in the action plan alongside harnessing and maintaining reductions in emissions caused by the impact of Covid-19, particularly in relation to business and commuter travel and would be vital in establishing new ways of working being maintained. Furthermore, it would be vital to embrace new green technologies when viable.
There would of course be gaps and unknowns in terms of costs and saving of many of the proposed actions. However, officers felt that at this stage it was important that the Council set out a pathway. Officers would ensure the tool projects would all be subject to full cost benefit analysis, external funding opportunities for delivery and that member approval would be sought for the proposals as appropriate.
Member deliberation followed which included:
Whilst supporting the intent of the report, a member questioned how it would actually come about commenting that it would not be as simple as it read and that significant infrastructure would be required.
Referencing information he had received the member advised that when 3 EV points were simultaneously charging, homes and businesses within the immediate vicinity had experienced such a significant loss of power at that time, the owner of the development had to install a booster to make up the loss of power. Addressing the review of the fleet within the report and identifying suitable sites for EV points, the member expressed concern at the consumption of power by those vehicles and the enormous drain on neighbouring business.
The Portfolio Holder confirmed that the Council had received grants for additional EV points within the town but had no installed more for that very reason, stating it was a recognised problem at the current time. Referencing the fleet the Portfolio Holder stated that companies already used alternative fuels and all options would be looked into, with other solutions coming forward.
Further comments included a suggestion for a car free Sunday once a month within the town centre of Boston. The member thought it would encourage residents to walk into town and also reduce emissions for that day, however in response Members voiced concern at the lack of public transport for residents in the rural areas and also more importantly the impact on residents who could not walk or cycle. The Council could be seen as discriminating against residents.
Additional concerns noted the significant expense of replacement batteries for EV vehicles and also the time lines indicated and the obvious ease for cities to become 100% neutral as against small towns with large rural areas.
Surprise was also noted in respect of the inclusion of the indicated future of the Municipal Buildings and the lack at present of any liaison with Members about such a decision and also at the replacement of the Boston fleet. A Member further questioned the future of the Crematorium and questioned what options would be available to reduce emissions as by default the nature of the site produced high emissions.
The Climate Change and Environment Officer reassured committee that there would be no replacement of the fleet until they came to the end of their life use and as technology progressed other options would become available and any non-viable options would not be taken forward.
Referencing the option to move from the Municipal Building the Climate Change and Environment Officer advised that it was just an option and that short term actions would be taken to reduce emissions at the site. Noting the concern about the Crematorium, Members were advised that the Carbon Trust had provided suggestions for the coming years with options to upgrade the cavity wall insulation in the chapel and loft space, upgrade glazing and position solar panels onto the chapel roof and the possibility of combusting long term fuel to a biogas blend. Moving forward new crematoria methods could come forward.
Members were reassured that the Net Zero Action Plan was a starting point and would develop significantly over the forthcoming years which would allow the Council to make informed decisions.
That the Environment and Performance Committee recommends adoption of the plan to Cabinet in line with the Council’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2027 and to achieve net zero by 2040. This commitment is also in line with the Strategic Aim within the Corporate Strategy