Agenda item

Questions under Cabinet Procedure 10.7

The deadline for questions is noon on Wednesday, 7th October 2020.

Minutes:

Councillor Needham – Carbon Neutral Action Fund

 

“It is understandable that the Council seeks to prioritise balancing its budget in order to continue to provide essential services and support to residents in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. However, it was disappointing to see a large budget reduction for the Carbon Neutral Action Fund in the revised Capital Plan 20/21. Would the Leader commit to instructing the relevant officers to explore all options for securing more funding for the carbon neutral project including, but not limited to, external sources and grants?”

 

The following response had been published prior to the meeting:

 

The draft Carbon Neutral 2030 Plan sets out an ambitious programme to deliver on the vision for the organisation to be carbon neutral by 2030 through capital projects and behavioural change. The plan has however, needed to be revised in light of change in circumstances occasioned by the pandemic and also the strategic review of the Council’s assets to ensure that resources are appropriately utilised and carbon reduction optimised to achieve the target. Officers are aware of the many funding streams and grants available and will seek to review projects in light of these opportunities.

 

In making a statement/asking a supplementary question, Councillor Needham thanked the Leader for the response.  She referred to her disappointment with the reduced budget and, although external funding would be sought, she could not see that that would be sufficient to fill the gap left, also expressing concern that there did not appear to be any budget for 2021-2023.  Councillor Needham understood the considerable financial pressures faced by the Council and that difficult decisions needed to be taken now and moving forward.  The position was severe, but climate breakdown was also a crisis even if it seemed distant, however it was a crisis that could be avoided if action was taken now.  The threat would remain if action was delayed, indeed it would become worse.  The less invested now, the more that would need spending in the future.  Carbon Zero was not something that was nice to have, it was essential if another crisis was to be avoided.  It also represented an opportunity to contribute to the green recovery needed emerging from the current pandemic.  In conclusion, Councillor Needham wished to ask the Cabinet to make Carbon Zero a budget priority and not delay it.

 

The Leader then asked Councillor Rollings as Cabinet Lead Member if he wished to respond.  Councillor Rollings stated that the commitment to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 remained as the Council’s intention and ambition and that was what it would be working towards.  Covid-19 had affected significantly the Council’s plans in this area and the Carbon Strategy which had been approaching consideration by Cabinet was now being reviewed to take the continually changing position into account. There remained a budget for the programme of £100k a year together with an amount left over from a previous project and that would be invested in working towards Carbon Neutral by 2030.  Officers had also stated that they would seek external funding opportunities.  Councillor Rollings thanked Councillor Needham for her question and the important issue it raised.

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