A question session with the Lead Councillor for Climate Change. Councillor Cait Taylor’s areas of responsibility are Climate Change, Air Quality, and Sustainable Transport.
The Chairman welcomed the Lead Councillor for Climate Change and reminded the Committee of Councillor Cait Taylor’s areas of responsibility: Climate Change, Air Quality, and Sustainable Transport. The Chairman indicated that several question areas had been passed along to the Lead Councillor for Climate Change in advance of the meeting and advised that other questions relevant to the portfolio would naturally arise.
During the ensuing discussion with the Lead Councillor for Climate Change a number of points were made and clarifications offered:
· In response to a question about monitoring air quality in Stoke ward and pollution from road traffic, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised that nitrogen dioxide monitoring across the borough targeted residential areas near to heavily trafficked roads. The Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised that monitoring for nitrogen dioxide at one site on Woking Road in Stoke ward had been discontinued after 2018 due to a low annual mean level. The meeting was advised that a modelling report commissioned by the Council in 2019 suggested neither nitrogen dioxide nor particulates were a concern in the Stoke ward. The Lead Councillor for Climate Change indicated that a link to the report could be sent to the Committee members. She expressed her surprise that the area of Stoke ward close to the A3 and other roads did not exceed the annual mean level of 40 µg/m3. In addition, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised the Committee how air quality was considered as part of the planning process across the Borough. She concluded by indicating that any particular areas of concern identified by Councillors could be reviewed as potential sites for monitoring.
· The Lead Councillor for Climate Change was asked about the impact of the one-way trial at Walnut Tree Close and collaboration between the Council and Surrey County Council on the project. In reply, the meeting was informed that during the six-month trial, traffic and air quality would be collected to assess the impact on Walnut Tree Close and the surrounding road network, as well as the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Guildford. The Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised the Committee that officers from the Council and Surrey County Council, together with contractors, had met to assess the air quality impact of the trial. The meeting was informed that Council officers had set up additional nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes to help monitor air quality, particularly in the areas of Woodbridge Road and Stoke Road where it was anticipated diverted traffic would go.
· In reply to a query from a member of the Committee, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change indicated the importance of sustainable transport to reducing air quality and congestion. In response to questions about the definition of sustainable transport, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change indicated that she would respond after considering the detail within the questions.
· In reply to questions on the role of bus services in Guildford, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change indicated her support for more buses, particularly electric, and indicated she would respond further after considering the detail of the questions.
· A member of the asked for information on the amount of power generated by weirs and rivers in Guildford, and whether there were plans to increase this. In reply, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change undertook to arrange for the information to be provided to the Committee.
· A Councillor asked for further details of measures to address the air quality issues that had necessitated the declaration of AQMAs in Shalford and Compton and whether a park and ride on Council owned land adjacent to the A281 was worthwhile. In reply, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised the meeting that park and ride services had traditionally been used by commuters and as such had been impacted by Covid and subsequent changes to working arrangements. She informed the meeting that park and ride usage was approximately half of the pre-Covid level, and the operator had suspended services from the Spectrum and was unlikely to re-start at Onslow when the site was returned from the Covid testing programme later in 2022. The Committee was advised that the site at Artington was under capacity and in close proximity to the Council owned land adjacent to the A281. The Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised that it would be worthwhile re-visiting the viability of currently suspended sites and routes, and additional sites, if demand levels increased. In conclusion, the Committee was advised of the merit in a comprehensive solution to air quality, with a wider focus than park and ride.
· A Councillor questioned the pricing for park and ride for two adults compared with charges for parking in the town centre and was advised that park and ride charges were set by the bus operator and regulated by Surrey County Council. The Lead Councillor for Climate Change advised the meeting of the park and ride prices and suggested they compared well against the costs for longer stays in car parks. In conclusion, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change indicated that the pricing situation would continue to be monitored.
· In response to questions, the Lead Councillor for Climate Change outlined her past and planned community engagement on climate change. She advised the meeting of the development of a Climate Change Action Plan to be submitted to the Council’s Climate Change Board and the value in revisiting the idea of a climate assembly in Guildford. With reference to discussion of the use of parish council liaison meetings to promote community engagement with climate change, a member of the Committee noted that the residents in non-parished parts of the Borough should be involved too.
The Chairman thanked the Lead Councillor for Climate Change for attending and answering questions.