For Council to adopt the Call for Action and to agree to the development of a zero carbon strategy and action plan.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste noted that it was disappointing that Extinction Rebellion who were protesting outside were not allowed in the public gallery.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste thanked Surrey’s Greener Future Task and Finish Group and officers for formulating the Call for Action - since the Council announced its ‘Climate Emergency’ in July - in conjunction with eighteen witnesses.
The Chairman of the Task Group thanked the Cabinet Member for his positive endorsement of the Task Group’s work, noted the hard work of officers throughout the eight witness sessions and praised the varied expertise of the Members within the Task Group. He highlighted the use of mobile agile working through Skype which reduced journeys to County Hall and facilitated discussions with witnesses across the country. He noted the 157 responses from organisations and members of the public which aided the Call for Action and that two of the witnesses, Woking Borough Council and Bristol City Council were leading the charge. He emphasised the importance of young people in tackling climate change, particularly Hurst Park Primary School in Elmbridge which was a Green Flag Eco-School and commented that the Council were delivering some of Extinction Rebellion’s demands.
The Chairman of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee welcomed the collaboration between Members and officers with external witnesses, which facilitated the Task Group’s active involvement in the policy-making process. The Council must deliver substantive action to address climate change - aided by a down payment in next year’s budget - by being a vanguard to ensure radical change.
A Member emphasised the need for the Council to lobby the Government to reposition the balance of planning issues towards supporting projects which protected green areas of Surrey, away from the signing-off of detrimental planning applications within parish, borough and district councils.
A Member commented that an ambitious strategy on climate change was important as it recognised the scale of the challenge. It would take time to embed the pledges within the Call for Action, but some could be implemented quickly and he hoped to receive a report at January’s Cabinet on what has been achieved - as well as within the Climate Change Strategy in April. Within forums held by Surrey Climate Commission, residents stressed that they were part of the solution and that the Council could make it easier for people to tackle climate change by engaging in a ‘climate conversation’ with its residents - as held in Leeds. The Council’s credibility on addressing climate change was dependent on significant investment, strengthened dialogue with Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Government may prove useful to fund the Council’s pro-climate strategies.
A Member reported that he would like to see greater emphasis in future reports - such as January’s Cabinet paper - on how the Council dealt with its own estate in terms of carbon neutral energy production, noting the alternative of solar energy and the increased capabilities needed in its storage.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste would take Members’ suggestions away, noting that partnership work with borough and district councils was crucial and he would report to Council next year on the progress made on addressing climate change.
1. That Council noted the task group report and the Cabinet Member’s
response to their recommendations;
2. Adopted the Call for Action; and
3. Agreed to the development of a zero carbon strategy and action plan.