The Board welcomed Councillor Steve Williams from Waverley Borough Council who was Executive Lead for Environment and Sustainability.
Waverley Borough Council (WBC) had declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019 with the same commitment as Guildford Borough Council (GBC) to reach Net Zero by 2030. It was important to remain on track for that timescale and to seek funding and collaboration to do so. The first draft of the WBC carbon neutrality action plan was produced in March 2020 with the acceptance that it would grow over time in terms scheduling and detail. The current version was produced in December 2020.
WBC had worked with the Association for Public Service Excellence to produce metrics and to understand the sources and levels of emissions to provide a baseline and a trajectory, in the same way as GBC.
The WBC Climate Emergency Board had seven key priorities including organisational emissions, active travel and air quality (including a lead transport officer to liaise with SCC), energy generation, built environment (with an estate of c.5,000 council-owned home), waste and resources, land use and adaption, and finally supporting a green economy (there were climate emergency centres in Farnham and Godalming). The Board had approved its action plan and recommended to full Council. The Board had met twice where there had been a focus on two areas of action. Firstly, procurement which was acknowledged as having particular processes and constraints for local government. A sustainable procurement strategy was being worked on currently to prioritise zero carbon. The other focus had been on the council’s estate and consultants had been engaged to work on a trajectory with costings for decarbonising all council-owned homes by 2030. The costs were clearly not going to be within the financial capacity of the council by itself and would require government funding and with the evidence from the consultants there would be lobbying for additional funds. In the meantime, the council was undertaking what steps it could take within budget toward that goal.
Following Cllr Williams’ presentation members of the GBC Board noted that it was far more costly to retro-fit housing rather than to build in a sustainable way to begin with. It was queried if the government may be bringing forward some funding to support carbon neutral construction at some stage. The meeting heard that WBC would be considering a motion put to its full Council in April to call upon the government to fund councils who did have a fully costed trajectory to retro-fit it’s council-owned homes. The importance of council’s in contributing to the government’s own carbon deadlines needed to be pressed home. Cllr Williams hoped that other Surrey councils would take the same lobbying position.
The Board agreed that there was a need to communicate with future homeowners to create an understanding of the climate change emergency so they would demand that new homes be carbon neutral.
The Board would support further planning legislation to support carbon neutral building. WBC was working to ensure as much supportive policy was included in it’s Local Plan (Part 2). A specific Dunsfold SPD and a Climate Change SPD had been adopted.
WBC and GBC would be working in collaboration to hold a Climate Assembly to pursue greater community engagement. WBC had been in support of a ‘Take the Jump’ running out of Zero Carbon Guildford which encouraged local people to make positive changes in their lifestyles.
WBC Communications team sent out any communications relating to Climate Change as a ‘gold standard’ referring to the importance of the message.