Agenda item


Purpose of report:


The purpose of the report is to provide the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee with an update on progress since the Surrey Climate Change Strategy was endorsed by Cabinet in April 2020.





Natalie Bramhall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change


Katie Stewart, Executive Director – ETI

Carolyn McKenzie, Director – Environment

Katie Sargent, Environment Group Commissioning Manager



Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Cabinet Member stated that the council had been working hard to engage with its borough and district partners; the Cabinet Member had held meetings with climate change portfolio holders and officer leads from eight of the district and boroughs, with the remaining three meetings scheduled. The meetings had been positive and confirmed a shared desire for joint working to tackle the climate crisis. Many district and borough councils, however, now did not have the funding to continue their climate work and were turning to the County Council to lead on, and fund, carbon reduction activities.


  1. The Cabinet Member continued that work was underway to greater understand the council’s carbon reduction targets, how they would be achieved, and the financial impacts of them. Consultants were being commissioned to produce a series of costed carbon reduction targets for the council’s estate and the county.


  1. The £300m Greener Futures investment programme was endorsed at March cabinet and would make a significant contribution to deliver on the climate change ambitions. A dashboard reporting the resulting emissions reductions would enable performance reporting to occur.


  1. An urban tree planting fund had been launched and members had been asked for suggestions. Finally. The council had put a bid into the government’s green homes local authority delivery programme (GH LAD) which, if successful, would bring £6.2m into the county to improve energy efficiency in low income inefficient housing, reducing fuel poverty in the county as well as stimulating Surrey’s green economy. In order to improve the council’s chances of being awarded this funding, the council allocated £750,000 capital funding to act as a top up fund for more costly energy efficiency measures.


  1. A Vice Chairman expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic and unitarisation of local authorities could impact on the delivery of the council’s climate strategy. The Cabinet Member stated that a unitarity authority could be better placed to deliver climate ambitions. In the interim, cooperation and communication with district and boroughs would be key in bringing forward the strategy. The Cabinet Member could not yet state what impact COVID-19 would have on the climate change agenda but hypothesised that the biggest bearing would be on public transport.


  1. A Member asked how many Surrey residents had used the interactive carbon footprint tool. The Cabinet Member informed members that the green microsite on World Environmental Day and it had 1,700 hits in the first month.


  1. A Member asked whether the council could assist the health sector to meet climate targets. The Group Manager assured the committee that the directorate was engaging with the health sector, mainly through the Surrey Heartlands Board, Heartlands Sustainability Network and The Estates Board.


  1. A Member stated that transport was the largest source of emissions in Surrey and asked what plans were in place to address this. The Executive Director stated that it was still working progress to say what the scale of change needed would be. The timing was important, and the service was still in the process of updating the local statutory transport plan (LATP4). Work was being undertaken on the Rethinking Transport programme and the promotion of Active Travel, which would be brought to a future meeting of the Select Committee.  The Group Manager stated that the council had commissioned Laser to perform net zero scenario work which would inform the actions the council needed to take to achieve its targets. A range of costed scenarios would be brought to the committee and included in the delivery plan. 


  1. A Member referred to the EU funded programme offering training and grants for energy efficiency and low carbon measures to SME businesses. The funding had been awarded and was due to start in October 2020. The Member asked whether this programme would still be going ahead given the UK’s exit from EU. The Group Manager stated that funding was guaranteed until the end of the funding period which was in 2023.


  1. The Chairman asked whether the results of the costed carbon reduction scenarios for countywide emissions would be available for the next meeting of the Select Committee. The Group Manager confirmed that the work was expected to be produced by November 2020.


  1. The Chairman stated that the implementation of climate change strategy would be council wide and asked whether there could be a discussion at the next Chair and Vice-Chair meeting about convening a forum whereby the council could work closely with the Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change to ensure success in the council’s climate ambitions. The Committees Business Manager agreed that this should be discussed with colleagues from other select committees at the next group meeting. 



Actions/further information to be provided:


i.              For the Rethinking Transport and Active Travel Programmes to be brought to a future meeting of the Select Committee





      I.                Chairman to discuss the future of climate change scrutiny with the Select Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen’s Group at its next meeting



Supporting documents: