Agenda item

Climate Change Mitigation Pathway and Strategy

Report of the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency


The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency introduced his report, describing the climate emergency as the biggest challenge we face and one we cannot afford to ignore – both in respect of the long-term prosperity of humanity and from a simple financial perspective. He thanked the small but growing team at CBC, who have a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and reminded Members of the council’s strong track record on environmental matters to date, as set out in the report.  The council cannot achieve its aims without an all-encompassing formal plan, however, and is adopting a cross-party approach and working in partnership with CheltenhamZero and various public sector organisations to achieve its goals. The climate emergency action plan is a pathway to net zero, covering eight topic areas, each with a number of actions split into different time periods, and focussing on what CBC can deliver as an authority, and what needs involvement of others.


He said it was important to note the council would be bidding for government support in a number of areas, and the Cheltenham Green Deal will enable the council to back proposed actions with money.  It will also be offering a local bond scheme, giving local people opportunity to invest in projects which help the planet and make a return too.  He reminded Members that the key principle of the strategy is the willingness to change as a borough and take responsibility to act on this serious challenge, but that Cheltenham can be part of the global shift towards a cleaner, greener, more pleasant world – the first step is to voting today.


In response to questions from Members, the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency responded as follows:


-       regarding progress on reducing carbon emissions of the council’s own vehicles, the authority itself to account by reporting to Overview and Scrutiny, ensuring the right questions are asked, ditching diesel vehicles, moving towards alternative fuels etc, with more detail provided year on year;

-       to tackle climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists, the plan encourages community engagement and, with Planet Cheltenham, is investigating the potential for community champions, as well as going into schools to help educate children about the issues at an early stage;

-       climate justice is an important consideration – ensuring that people who can afford to bear the brunt do so, so that the less well-off are not unfairly impacted.  This is mostly a national issue around tax, but local authorities can get involved by draught-proofing council housing and improving fuel efficiency;

-       it is important that Cheltenham, as a festivals town, moves away from diesel generators for outside events on CBC land – the Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business is working on an events strategy to incorporate this;

-       whether Cheltenham made a big tree-planting pledge in partnership in 2019 with other Gloucestershire councils is debatable, but this is an indicative action alongside many others in the scoping report;

-       with regard to planning standards – requiring all new development to be zero carbon, protecting key wildlife sites from development – a climate supplementary planning document is currently underway and will set a framework on which local planning applications can be judged.  This will only carry a certain level of weight, but until national planning policy forces higher standards, it will at least inform the JCS and Local Plan, and demonstrate to developers that they will need to go above and beyond if they want to develop in Cheltenham.


In debate, Members enthusiastically welcomed the ambitious strategy, and commended both the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency for his championing of these vital issues and the climate emergency team for their hard work and expertise.  They made the following comments:


-       Cheltenham has already made a start, with its policy to have a zero-carbon taxi fleet by 2030, its first zero-carbon private housing development recently permitted in Leckhampton, on a brownfield site and including 40% affordable housing – a revolutionary moment.  Solar panels have been installed on many CBH properties, but isolated instances cannot be relied upon, and mapping out a pathway is vital;

-       inclusion of measures to combat the loss of biodiversity and threat to the eco-system – a crisis in its own right - in the plan is welcomed;

-       there are a number of infrastructure initiatives which could help but would need county council investment – such as smart street-lighting which can be used, among other things, for EV charging, and electric hook-up for licensed events;

-       while trees are nature’s way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, there are technological solutions as well which would be worth investigating, and great potential for working in conjunction with tech start-ups at the Minster Exchange and with the cyber hub;

-       the climate emergency pathway has crossovers to all portfolios, and it is exciting to see so many initiatives and projects starting to take shape.


The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency said Members had made some excellent points, which would have been heard by the team and would be acted upon.


RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Council:

-       notes the progress made to date;

-       approves the emerging Climate Emergency Action Plan:  Pathway to Net Zero, and delegates implementation to the Director for Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency and the Section 151 Officer;

-       delegates authority to the Director for Environment in consultation with the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency and Section 151 Officer to commit expenditure from the allocated Climate Emergency budget;

-       approves the ‘Cheltenham Green Deal’ (the climate change investment strategy).







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