Peterborough schools and leisure centres to reduce energy use under new carbon reduction plan, while street lights may be dimmed

Peterborough City Council has set out 20 pledges on climate control that it will undertake in 2020/21.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:34 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 9:15 pm

Having declared a climate change emergency back in July 2019, councillors had been criticised for not having acted.

Cllr Nick Sandford (Lib Dem group leader) and Cllr Shaz Nawaz (Labour group leader) had both pointed out the inaction of the council at recent meetings.

The aim is for the council and the city as a whole to be carbon neutral by 2030, but in the past few months very little constructive work has been done to reduce the effects of global warming.

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The Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre in Bishop's Road

Speaking to members at Monday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Marco Cereste, cabinet member for waste, street scene and the environment, said: “The Council Carbon Management Action Plan (Council-CMAP) will be in place by March 31, 2020 consisting of 2020 pledges that we will undertake to reduce carbon emissions where we can.

“There will be a base timeline setting out our current carbon emissions arising from both city and council activities.

“This will then be measured against an action plan giving both a short and a medium term target for carbon emissions reduction, and this in turn will be balanced against the costs of these measures and how they will be funded.”

The 20 pledges are:

. Rationalising floor space to reduce energy demands in all public buildings;

. Planting new trees on council owned land and encouraging others to do likewise;

. Reviewing all council electricity and gas contracts seeking to amend them to 100 per cent renewable fuel tariffs;

. Appraising the impact of the winter 2019/20 Streetlight Dimming Programme to see if further dimming of streetlights is practicable;

. Replacing the mayor’s car with an ultra-low emissions vehicle;

. Looking at carbon emissions from all council owned farm estate land and to develop options to reduce those emissions;

. Guidance for all council staff of how they can reduce their own personal carbon emissions;

. Creating a network of 60 council Change Champions responsible for educating staff on how they can reduce their carbon emissions;

. Further developing the Climate Change Member Working Group so that each political party can scrutinise decision made to lower carbon emissions;

. Working with Aragon Direct Services, the council-owned company responsible for waste collection and maintenance of public spaces, and reviewing its vehicle fleet to become less carbon intensive;

. Working with Skanska, the councils’ highways partner, to trial a zero-carbon compound for a major highway through the use of renewable energy initiatives;

Completing the move to council offices at Sand Martin House, designed to reduce energy consumption and built to regenerate renewable energy;

. Assessment of the Regional Swimming Pool to identify measures to reduce consumption of energy;

. Assessment of Hampton’s Premier Fitness to identify measures to reduce consumption of energy;

. Assessment of Bushfield Leisure Centre to identify measures to reduce consumption of energy;

. Complete an energy assessment for Clare Lodge to identify measures to reduce consumption of energy;

. Prepare a bespoke action plan by summer 2020 for all the schools in Peterborough (School-CMAP) setting out how to cut carbon emissions in the schools;

. Putting in place arrangements by March 2021 (including a city-wide partnership forum) to facilitate and prepare a district-wide action plan (District- CMAP) with stakeholders on board setting out how to cut carbon emissions collectively across the entire Peterborough area.

. Working with a willing parish council to prepare a template parish based action plan (Parish-CMAP) to encourage all parishes to adopt carbon emission reduction schemes with their own targets and projects;

. Preparing a second Council-CMAP for March 2021, setting out the progress achieved in the first council-CMAP and proposals and targets for 2021/22.

Cllr Cereste added: “Our current baseline carbon emissions total 11,500 tonnes of CO2, or the equivalent, these emissions arising mostly from the use of energy and transport. Our officers are now working on the complex task of identifying other areas where carbon emissions are found in an effort to reduce these as much as we can.”

Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for finance, wanted to know what timeframe the officers have planned for the city and the council to become carbon neutral.

Charlotte Palmer, head of transport and environment said: “We simply can’t say at this time because we don’t know the levels of all the carbon emissions in the city as that data doesn’t yet exist – so that is our first task, gather the data and analyse it.

“You will see in the report that what we have estimated is that each individual in Peterborough is responsible for roughly 5.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions and this must be reduced.”

Kirstie Lloyd-Uzoegbu, Peterborough social services intensive service manager, added: “We also don’t have data for all the land use across the city and the carbon impact on our soils and what we could be doing to ensure that we manage them appropriately.”

Cllr Mohammed Farooq, cabinet member for digital services and transformation, said: “Have you considered the individual carbon impact if we as a council change the ways that we actually work? If we don’t all have to meet in one place for our meetings we could work from home as many of our staff already want to do, and this could have an enormous impact on the number of travel movements made each year.

“We could then set an example to businesses in the city whereby they can work to employ people as near to the business place as possible, but where not possible they can be home workers saving countless travel emissions each year.”

Ms Palmer replied: “I think this a really interesting and challenging area because clearly lots of people do commute to work, and those travel movements make up vast tonnage of carbon emissions each year.

“Few businesses will want to compromise its workforce by dictating to them a policy whereby they can only work if they come from a certain area, but having said that there is a balance to be had and we very much support that.

“Even taking out one or two days in any given working week will, over time, dramatically reduce an individual’s carbon emissions footprint, so we would encourage businesses of all kinds to investigate this further and that is one of ways we want to help in the future.”

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, deputy leader, had a question about the numbers of fast-charging points in the city: “The taxi firms are currently reluctant to investigate the potential for electric vehicles due to costs and the fact that there are not enough fast charging points for them in the city. 

“It is my understanding that we have purchased and taken delivery of 50,000 fast-charging units, but none of these have been installed yet because the electricity infrastructure is not in place – is that correct?”

Ms Palmer replied: “The taxi firms are keen to alter their emissions practices – we know this because we’ve spoken to them often enough about it.

“The problem is, as you quite rightly point out, there are not enough fast-charge stations in the city at the moment, and if you’re running a taxi it’s no good waiting eight hours for a charge-up between fares – you want to charge up immediately.”

Leader of the council Cllr John Holdich added: “We have taken delivery of the fast-charge units and we have urged the electric companies to get a move on with these installations which will be completed by July of this year.”

Cabinet members agreed unanimously to adopt the 20 pledges.

It will now go before the Full Council for approval on March 4, before being submitted to the Government for funding.

Cllr Sandford said: “This carbon management plan is weak, unambitious and is likely to be ineffective in getting the council anywhere near its target of zero carbon by 2030. It’s likely we will be voting against it when it comes to Full Council.”

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service