Agenda item


Purpose of the report: To assess the progress of Surrey in meeting its net-zero carbon targets for the county and to assess the progress of local authorities in Surrey, including Surrey County Council, in meeting organisational net zero targets, in accordance with the Greener Futures Climate Change Delivery Plan (2021 – 2025).




            Marissa Heath, Cabinet Member for Environment

Paul Deach, Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment

Katie Stewart, Executive Director of Environment, Transport and Infrastructure

Caroline McKenzie, Director of Environment

Katie Sargent, Environment Group Commissioning Manager


The Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the report highlighting the insulation of homes and the installation of renewables in homes as priorities, reiterating that whilst there were areas that needed further progress, the value of collaborative working prior to the paper going to Cabinet in November was clear.


The Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment explained that recent work with the communications team was intended to optimise the message going out to residents to reinforce the greener futures message and maximise behaviour change.


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Vice Chairman, in reference to the lack of national funding for transport issues noted in paragraph 11, was concerned about the new government having a lack of enthusiasm for greener futures agenda. The Cabinet Member for the Environment said that the aim was for the agenda to continue locally, regardless of national reprioritisation, and the focus was for the Council to remain at the forefront of the agenda by lobbying for alternative sources of funding and ensuring resources were available to bid for funding opportunities.


  1. A Member, in reference to the Cabinet Member for Environment’s comment around alternate sources of funding noted that the same was said a year ago and reiterated that action was required. The Environment Group Commissioning Manager explained that progress was being made with the implementation of different finance mechanisms and added that as an example, the development of a power purchase agreement to enable rental roof style schemes with schools could be replicated for use on commercial, industrial and agricultural buildings to generate income and help fund decarbonisation measures going forward.


  1. A Member was concerned at the time taken to bring information forward to the Greener Futures Reference Group on these finance options. The Director of Environment whilst noting the concern, explained the complexity of the mechanisms and the need gather evidence and build on trust to encourage private sector finance.


  1. A Member queried how the format of the report could be adjusted to reflect that despite reductions being achieved, emissions were rising faster than the trajectory the county needs to stay on track to meet its net zero ambitions. The Cabinet Member for Environment committed to add a record of this information to future reports. Action- Cabinet Member for Environment


  1. A Member queried when the next base data update could be expected. The Environment Group Commissioning Manager confirmed that data was released annually.


  1. A Member requested an update regarding the progress of delivery in respect of the Light emitting diode (LED) streetlight replacement programme and the roll out of Electric Vehicle (EV) chargepoints pilot project, particularly given the risk and concerns over the lack of capacity of third-party providers to deliver some objectives. The Executive Director of Environment, Transport and Infrastructure confirmed that the LED streetlighting programme was on track and was an area where SCC was making significant energy savings. An investment of £30 million in this programme was providing an annual saving of £1.3 million and a commitment was made to provide the Select Committee with a written update regarding this. Following the agreement of terms by the Select Committee’s EV Reference Group, the procurement for EV chargepoints had been issued and was in the final stages of tendering. It was expected that a proposal of a decision on procurement would be taken to Cabinet in November 2022 with a meeting of the Select Committee to follow shortly after. Action – Executive Director of Environment, Transport and Infrastructure


  1. A Member asked for an update following a question raised at full Council in December 2021 regarding carbon literacy training and asked about progress in delivering that training for officers and the progress in Member training. The Environment Group Commissioning Manager confirmed that the Corporate Leadership Team had received the carbon literacy training and that this would be rolled out further, with sessions taking place every two months. The Environment Group Commissioning Manager committed to providing the committee with numbers of staff that have received training.  Action – Environment Group Commissioning Manager


  1. A Member queried the reason that paragraph 9 of the report showing a green RAG (Red, Amber Green) status for sustainable warmth was rated as red in the introduction provided by the Cabinet Member for Environment. The Member concluded that as the figures show, although good progress had been made, the Council was not delivering against its targets for 2025, 2030 and 2050 which should be reflected in the ratings. The Cabinet Member for Environment noted the continuing progress for sustainable warmth within funding constraints and explained that targets were being met as an authority, however there were broader challenges around what was happening in privately rented and privately owned homes that remained a challenge. The Member reiterated the importance of realistic information around targets was shared with residents.


  1. A Member, in reference to a comment made in the previous item made by the Leader of the Council regarding investment zone applications to be submitted by 14 October 2022, asked if the removal of environmental controls would undermine the Council’s Climate Change policy and was there any clarity around the Government’s intentions around environmental controls in these Investment Zones. The Cabinet Member for Environment agreed with the speculative nature around environmental controls and confirmed that submissions by the Council would reiterate that the environmental agenda must not be undermined.


  1. A Member suggested that information shared with residents could be more straightforward, for example the LED streetlight programme could be expressed as a percentage of the total. The Cabinet Member for the Environment welcomed the suggestion and agreed that clear messages to residents were fundamental to encourage behaviour change.


  1. The Chairman asked if the commitment remained for a carbon budget to be delivered alongside the financial budget. The Cabinet Member for Environment confirmed this was the case.


  1. The Chairman asked if there was confidence that essential behavioural changes required to meet the 2025, 2030 and 2050 targets would happen. The Cabinet Member for Environment said that there was confidence in the team to bring a clear vision and develop the integration of behaviour change but challenges were expected and support from the government and others was required. The Council needed to further develop communications with residents to impart information regarding the benefits of changes and the support available to residents to implement those changes.


  1. A Member suggested a measurement of where residents are currently in personally changing their behaviours and relaying this information back to them as a way of improving communication of the message. The Cabinet Member for Environment agreed to take away the suggestion for consideration. Action – Cabinet Member for Environment.


  1. A Member asked if greener construction skills were being addressed as part of the Skills Plan for Surrey. The Cabinet Member for Environment confirmed that the Skills Plan for Surrey would be focusing on greener construction skills.




The Community, Environment and Highways Select Committee:


1.    Welcomes the substantive progress already achieved, particularly at Surrey County Council level, made over the last 12 months to meet our net zero carbon target by 2030. It commends the work of officers and the active involvement of the Greener Futures Member Reference Group.


2.    Supports the proposed amendments to the Delivery Plan contained in Paragraph 16. The intention to work even closer with Surrey’s Districts and Broughs is applauded.


3.    Is concerned that the new government’s commitment (both in policy and funding) to climate objectives may be waning (energy crisis, de-regulation to promote growth, and possible public spending reductions) may seriously impede Surrey as a whole from achieving net zero by 2050, despite vigorous lobbying by the Council and others. The Strategy may have to be adapted should these fears be realised.


4.    Recognises that significant behavioural change by residents on vehicle usage, low carbon measures and active/sustainable travel has yet to take place and that while the Council itself inevitably can only play a limited role, it should intensify its efforts in this regard.


5.    Reiterates its support for Carbon budget to be developed alongside the Council’s financial budget.


6.    Appreciates that RAG status to measure the success of a project within the constraints applied to that project is helpful for internal management purposes. However, asks that in case of Climate Change the RAG status against the 2025, 2030 and 2050 targets be included in all future reporting to make it more useful for external communication and understanding.


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