An update from Extinction Rebellion on meeting with Herefordshire Council on Wednesday, 16th of January “About thirty people attended the meeting to learn about Herefordshire Council’s work on climate change, with a view to building an ongoing relationship between Extinction Rebellion and the Council, and to pave the way for a Council motion on Climate Emergency.
Summary – the Council has set targets for reducing its own carbon emissions, and has published an aspiration for the whole of Herefordshire to meet the UK Climate Change targets, i.e. 80% reduction by 2050. It is working with residents and business to help reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
The targets and plans as they stand do not match XR’s stated demand of achieving a net zero carbon Britain in 2025.
A motion is being developed by opposition party Councillors to have Herefordshire declare a Climate Emergency. It is hoped that this will be debated at the March full Council meeting (8 March 2019).
Council stressed the need for us to all work together on developing a carbon descent plan that reflects the increased urgency of climate change.
This was an extremely useful session and we’d like to thank Trish Marsh for organising it at short notice and Ben Boswell for delivering an information-rich presentation.
Notes on the meeting follow. Links are included to key documents referred to in Council’s presentation.
The meeting was chaired by Councillor Trish Marsh.
Ben Boswell, Energy and Active Travel Manager, Herefordshire Council, presented an overview of Council’s work over the past few years to reduce carbon emissions, and outlined the initiatives currently being taken.
There are two areas of work:
1. The Council’s own estate – its building and its vehicles;
2. The rest of Herefordshire – domestic and businesses properties, transport etc.
1. The Carbon Management Plan from 2017 covers the first. It sets a target for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2021 over 2008 levels arising from the Council’s own estate.
One big success has been the conversion of streetlighting to LEDs: download CMP17 here to read more
2. Council has signed up to the UK Climate Change Act targets (80% reduction by 2050, and 34% by 2020), applying to the whole County, not just its own estate.
Many initiatives are underway with other parties to help them reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. New Leaf was set up to drive this. In 2014, New Leaf and HC kicked off the ‘Re-energising Herefordshire’ Project with its first report – available here. The Herefordshire Local Nature Partnership is now managing the project. Many local organisations have signed the Re-energising Herefordshire Charter:
“WE HAVE AGREED therefore to work together; separately in our individual organisations – and where appropriate with our members – to Re-energise Herefordshire, with the intention of:
reducing the county’s carbon emissions to the targets stated
growing a resilient, localised, low carbon economy
enhancing the wellbeing of all sections of our community
improving our food and energy security
reducing fuel poverty and other forms of social vulnerability
adapting proactively to changing climatic and weather conditions. “
Re-energising Herefordshire proposed a carbon descent for Herefordshire:
The 2050 target in this graph is 80% by 2050. Please link to the full report if you want a clearer view of the chart and text.
Specific initiatives mentioned by Ben include:
The Business Futures Forum – chaired by Gareth Williams of Caplor Energy. Set up in 2013-14, it has around 100 businesses sharing ideas about business sustainability – energy efficiency, material use, carbon management. The forum is led by businesses and supported by Council.
Business Energy Efficiency Programme – free energy efficiency assessments.
Business Travel Grants – to help businesses moves to more sustainable modes of travel, e.g. free bike loans for apprentices, grants for bike shelters.
Keep Herefordshire Warm (KHW) – run by Marches Energy Agency, provides independent advice to residents on managing heating, it used to provide funding for insulation when it was available from ECO, now have to work harder to secure financial help.
KHW have produced a Heat Loss map – an aerial survey done in 2016 of most buildings in Herefordshire which gives an indication of the thermal performance, specifically the amount of heat being lost through the roof. Go to this Council webpage to see if your home/place of work was surveyed.
Active Travel – initiatives aimed at persuading residents to reduce car use, by promoting walking and cycling. See Destination Hereford presentation and report for analysis of the effectiveness of various programmes. For example, the 2015 Hereford Travel Survey responses reported that: “There has been a net change of 2.7% from car driver journeys to public transport and active travel modes over the last three years for main journey purpose;”
Coming soon – Hereford City Bike share scheme, and a revised Choose How You Move travel guide for Hereford city showing cycling paths, walking routes and bus services.
Electric vehicle support – Council has bought hybrid and fully electric pool cars. Intends to upgrade existing public EV charging points to fast-chargers., and is working out a strategy for a wider network of points. Future housing developments will be required to have charging points.
Heat Network – plans are being developed for a possible district heat network in the city centre. See page 25 of CMP17.
QUESTION and ANSWER session
Why so many traffic lights? They increase carbon emissions by interrupting traffic flow. BB: “ not my field”
We need a carrot and stick approach to reduce car usage in the city, how about reducing car parking spaces like Copenhagen. BB: “Council vision is a walking / cycling city”.Questioner – City Link Road is an example of what not to do: it prioritises cars over everything else.
Why not Park and Ride? BB “ not against in principle, but it needs greater modal shift out of cars to facilitate faster bus journeys, and this is a hard sell”
How would you ramp up the ambition on carbon reductions? BB: ” the key thing is behaviour change, we need to be supportive, not telling”.
What one thing would really help? BB – need time to consider.
What can XR do? BB: “ encourage behaviour change”.
Why do some new builds at Rotherwas have no solar? BB “Planning law does not give Council the power to require private developers to install RE” TM: “ Revision of Core Strategy Local Plan in 2019 is opportunity to adopt policies on this”.
More needs to be done to reach out to householders about energy use etc.
Persuade people to spend money on efficiency / RE by illustrating the financial savings.
Why not share thermal imaging data with Parish Councils to try to get more interest? Why are resources and documents on Council website about energy and the environment so hard to find? They should leap out at you on the home page.
Parish Councils could be invited to join Herefordshire Green Network.
Will Council commit to coming back with a carbon management plan in 6 months that aligns with XR ambition?
Environmental physics (and chemistry) dictate the course and pace of climate change, this must be recognised as it trumps politics and money.
How can we persuade businesses and schools to reduce traffic? How about car-free days and tackling the school run?
It’s Our County are developing a shadow budget emphasising sustainability, for consideration at Council in February.”