The Portfolio Holder for Climate Action and Emergency Response introduced this item and advised that the review of the Climate Change Action Plan sets out the significant work undertaken during the previous four years and the reasons why the review had been brought forward from 2025 to the present time. The review also illustrated the challenges and the priority areas needing to be addressed.
The Council had taken out full membership of the South West Energy and Environment Group (SWEEG) and had established a Green Team which had started to allocate funding in principle to various climate change initiatives. The Portfolio Holder highlighted the Climate Change section of the EDDC website.
Since its publication in 2020, much of the focus of the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan had been on the Council’s own carbon emissions reduction. The Portfolio Holder referred to the chart on page 13 of the Climate Change Strategy, which showed the various producers of greenhouse gas emissions across the district, the largest of these being on-road transportation, residential buildings and agriculture, forestry and land use, noting that with the exception of council owned or tenanted properties, the other issues are also national issues beyond EDDC’s control. The Council was currently retro-fitting its housing stock, however this depended on funding being available. The upgrading of EDDC owned commercial property was also dependent on funding being made available.
Work was also underway to influence behavioural change with the Countryside team having produced educational leaflets for use at outdoor events, and the climate action pages on the EDDC being re-worked to include additional and seasonal information.
The Climate Change Officer presented the report and highlighted the fact that the adoption of the Climate Change Strategy was a new approach for the Council, with the strategy embedded across all Council services. The presentation highlighted the key current climate action work streams and the in-year specific services actions set out in the report, which were in addition to the Action Plan.
Responses to questions from Members and discussion included the following points:
· The Climate Change Officer agreed to meet with representatives from Ottery St Mary, Feniton and Sidmouth to try to progress an Otter Valley cycle trail which had been in discussion for many years following a feasibility study in 2014.
· As a member of SWEEG the Council was able to access high level research, information and knowledge sharing.
· Councillor induction training was planned for January / February 2024.
· Devon County Council had been allocated funding for a gully trial to develop on-road EV charging points for residents which would look at charging cables across residential pavements.
· The Climate Change Officer would circulate usage data for EV charging in EDDC carparks.
· It was important to ensure that the correct type of EV charging points were installed as this was an ever evolving market.
· The provision of EV charging points for Council owned properties would be part of a separate project. A system was up and running in Bath which could provide helpful information.
It was noted that the Climate Change Strategy had not been debated by full Council prior to its adoption. It was considered vital that the Action Plan be reviewed and discussed by the Council on an annual basis.
Education and raising awareness was key to changing residents’ behaviour. The Climate Change Officer advised that training was being rolled out through community networks such as that of the Thelma Hulbert Gallery. Working at grass-roots level with town and parish councils was also vital to engaging residents.
The Scrutiny Committee agreed to note the progress made with the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and work carried out since the Portfolio Holder update in February 2023. The Scrutiny Committee further noted that a comprehensive review of the Strategy and Action Plan had been brought forward from 2025 and was currently being undertaken and would be reported on in due course.