Agenda for Overview and Scrutiny Commission Ad- hoc panel on Climate Change - Completed on Monday, 1st February, 2010, 10.00am
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Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 3, Hove Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Karen Amsden Scrutiny Support Officer
Apologies: Cllr Tony Janio sent his apologies.
Declarations: No declarations of interest.
No party whip.
Minutes of the previous meeting from 11.01.10.
The final draft minutes of the last meeting on 11.01.10 were approved by the Panel. The changes suggested by Meyrick Gough of Southern Water have now been incorporated and an approved version of the minutes has now been published.
The Panel will hear from:
Matthew Lipson, Assistant Scientist, Committee on Climate Change, Adaptation Sub-Committee
Gary Ferrand, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service
Thurstan Crockett, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Policy, Brighton & Hove City Council
Angela Dymott, Assistant Director, Property and Design, Brighton & Hove City Council
Robin Humphries, Business Continuity Manager, Brighton & Hove City Council
The attached papers are as follows:
Matthew Lipson, Assistant Scientist, is working to support the Adaptation Sub-Committee. This is a sub-committee of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) http://www.theccc.org.uk/asc-home an independent body, established under the Climate Change Act 2008.
The aim of the Adaptation Sub-Committee is to:
‘provide expert advice and scrutiny through the CCC to ensure that the Government’s programme for adaptation enables the UK to prepare effectively for the impacts of climate change.’
It has 3 key goals to:
The membership of the Sub-Committee includes Graham Wynne who had a strong local authority history.
Matthew’s own role was to understand at a local level what central government is doing which is:
· A hindrance
· Barriers and blocks to action and what central government can do to help
Adaptation is vital because:
• Without mitigation there will be a likely 3-4 degrees warming by 2100
• CCC (mitigation) recommendation was a global 3% reduction pa with emissions peaking before 2020
• This still leaves us with a small chance of 3 degrees and a 50% chance of 2 degrees.
Conclusion: however much we mitigate (and we must), we are committed to some increase in global temperatures. Although there is some uncertainty over exactly how much, impacts will grow over time.
He could see from the information provided to him before the meeting, that Brighton & Hove was doing a good deal to reduce the impact of climate change. However much is being done to mitigate against the effects of climate change, we also need to adapt.
Warmer global temperatures will have many impacts for the UK. UKCP09 Projections, based on the best available science, helps us understand what this will mean at a local level:
· Under business as usual, we can expect wetter and warmer winters
· Also increased chances of severe events like the floods we saw in Cumbria
· However, there is also considerable uncertainty surrounding these predictions
The UKCP09 projections can be downscaled to examine the impacts for Brighton and Hove. These projections can provide you with information about your local region - down to 25km. The graph I have provided to the Panel shows predicted changes in precipitation by 2080 for the wettest day in winter months (assuming emissions remain high). This shows that there could be a 20% increase in precipitation and may be significantly higher.
This shows that we have to adapt to a lot of uncertainties and adopt flexible strategies. The UKCP09 projections are designed to help Local Authorities build capacity by exploring and planning for likely changes. The goal is to embed climate change into thinking, adopting an approach of:
· Flexibility - For example, the TE2100 project which looks at flood protection for London delays very expensive decisions until they need to be made.
· Resilience – this is an important issue for example the fire service who can do a lot at the local level to increase resilience
· ‘Least regrets’ e.g. urban tree planting
A recent survey conducted by the Institute of
Environmental Managers on adaptation found that 90% of local
authorities were adapting, which was high compared to other
organisations. However when LAs were
asked the following question:
Q: How well do you think your organisation is adapting to climate change?
only 9% responded that they were adapting well, whereas 57% said they were adapting fairly and 34% said they were adapting poorly.
The key barriers identified by local authorities were:
The first results for NI 188 for 149 Local Strategic Partnerships achievements up to 31 March 2009 have been reported. The key findings were that:
· 51% (76) reported that they were at level 0.
· 43% (64) had reached level 1.
· 5% (8) at level 2 - Bexley, Islington, Kingston-upon-Hull, Kirklees, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Staffordshire and Trafford.
· Stockton-on-Tees which was the only LSP to report that it had achieved level 3.
Defra reviewed the first year of reporting for local authorities against National Indicator 188.
They found some barriers to climate change adaptation at a local level:
Source: Defra (2009) National Indicator (NI) 188: Year 1 Review and Analysis. Conducted by Ann Davies (In House Policy Consultancy).
Questions to Matthew Lipson
Gordon MacKerron (GMK): Are there any plans for central government to change its relationship with local authorities re: climate change adaptation?
Matthew Lipson (ML): At present the ASC were just listening and there were no fixed ideas.
GMK: Interested in the Defra 2009 report comment that there seems to be significant duplication in the work.
ML: Promised to pass the executive report to KA.
GMK: What is the deadline you are working to for finding out information about local authorities? Are there any plans, given the feedback so far, for the government to issue further guidance or help to speed up the process?
ML: DEFRA are looking at this issue and are keen to improve the NI188 process.
GMK: It is good to hear about the ‘least regrets’ focus in planning. In relation to the lack of resources being such a barrier to planning, do the Terms of Reference (TOR) of your Sub-Committee enable you to recommend that additional resources are made available to tackle adaptation issues?
ML: The government is working towards a National Adaptation Plan. This will follow from the national Climate Change Risk Assessment which will be laid before parliament in January 2012. This may prompt changes in resourcing, however its worth noting that climate change could also be treated as another risk and embedded in normal risk planning. It may not always be effective to separate it out and treat it seperately.
GMK: Therefore it is unlikely that anything will come back before 2011.
ML: We do hope to produce some output before 2011, but I doubt that resource decisions will be taken very soon,given the approaching elections.
Gary Ferrand, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, & Keith Ring, Borough Commander of East Sussex Fire & Rescue
The slide which shows ‘response areas’ highlights the dark areas on this map which are the clusters that represent the flood zones which fall out of our 13 minutes response times. These zones include:
· Dungeness Marsh
· South Downs
The slide provided which shows major flood areas, are used as part of our modelling for response times and are critical to the Fire Service’s ability to serve Brighton & Hove (B&H) and East Sussex. The River Ouse presents a significant barrier. There are 3 fire stations in the City, but if extra resources were needed, they would have to come from stations past this River. 8.4% of the population lives in flood zone areas, which represents around 63,000 people. In 2000 there was significant flooding and the service needed to look at how best to respond to this.
The key risks in B&H are:
· Tidal and fluvial flooding
· Coastal erosion
· Ground water flooding (the most significant risk for the city)
Their modelling work has shown that London Road and Lewes Road are the most vulnerable roads in the city. Despite the concerns about the vulnerabilities of accessing the Preston Circus Station, to date they have not failed at getting appliances out. But there is nothing to say that this will not happen in the future. These 2 roads are built on river beds and are populated with old Victorian buildings, often with basements. In the event of any flooding, these buildings would present a significant demand on FRS resources.
The speed of response is important to the service, because one could expect higher levels of fatalities if they have a lower response time. This could make the difference between life and death.
One of the key emergency planning considerations for the service is that a number of the fire stations are in Zone 2 flooding areas e.g.
So it may be necessary to move these stations, or ensure they are more resilient to flooding, if their asset management considerations allow them to.
The swings to drier summers and wetter winters will lead to vulnerabilities related to their service, namely that:
· The heat leads to an increase in secondary fires e.g. refuse and grassland fires
· Wetter weather increases the likelihood of flooding and storms
For example the heat waves in 1976 led to a significant increase in secondary fires.
The Fire Service is not statutorily legislated to respond to flooding and it is not funded for this activity. They have relevant equipment such as dry suits for crews and are in the process of preparing a swift water response team. One of their long term considerations is to introduce training procedures for dealing with flooding. In the Hove and Eastbourne stations they have national assets for responding to flooding, including a high volume pump. This means they can respond nationally, regionally and locally to significant floods. The Service had this equipment on standby last week in case of potential flooding in Patcham. Short term considerations include:
· Training needs
· Safety issues
· Tying up flood prevention advice with fire prevention advice. Previously they have offered advice on flooding to people who live in vulnerable areas.
In relation to mitigation and adaptation they have done good work, including:
· Reducing energy use e.g. putting condensing boilers in 24 stations
· Putting the cleanest possible diesel engines in fire engines
· Altering fire fighting measures e.g. using compressed air foam to minimise the amount of water used to put out a fire, which has led to a substantial reduction in water use.
· Still looking at ways to reduce, or avoid, the use of water. This is important because it both reduces water runoff and releases pollutants into the water system. For example with barn fires they can deploy a more defensive approach which also reduces the risks to fire fighters. This approach is used in areas such as the South Downs border.
· Engagement with the staff and public. They are keen to mainstream environmental issues and have established an employee group and champions in fire stations.
Questions to Gary Ferrand and Keith Ring
GMK: In your presentation you have both explained how you are adapting yourselves e.g. moving fire stations and looking at different ways of responding to events in the county that are related to climate change. How relatively easy is it to a) do your own adaptation b) adapt your responses.
Gary Ferrand (GF): We would attend events if there was the expectation of life risk e.g. vehicles trapped in a flooded area and do all in our capability to respond. However we are also obliged to balance our resources. If the Pitt Review decided that there was to be a funded body to deal with flooding, and it was to be the Fire Authority, then it would be expected that funding would be provided.
We have to meet the expectations of the community and would try to commit resources to an area that was facing
· Life risk
· Area risk
Gill Mitchell (GM). How would hotter summers affect your service? I can think of it resulting in both an:
· Increase in fires
· Increase in visitor numbers leading to an increase in fires
GF: The greater the population, the greater the risk of fires - especially during school holidays. If there are hotter summers, then there would be an increase in numbers visiting coastal areas. Hotter summers generally result in an increase in deliberate fires, including:
· Grass down fires –if this was on the South Downs it could be significant
· Refuse fires
Both of the above are classified as secondary fires as they do not involve property, but they can use a high level of resources.
GM: Do you work with Building Control and our Planners re: materials which are used? For example a few years ago there was a fire in the Van Allen building. It was reported in the newspapers that it had been caused by very hot sun shining on a carpet. So would Planning, and other services, need to specify materials that reduce the risk of fires? Are you plugged into the planning system?
GF: We work closely with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) re: fire risk of materials and keep abreast of fire hazard reports.
We expect local crews to carry out 7(2)(d) visits to gather risk information about buildings. We are closely plugged into Building Control and look at drawings of buildings to ensure that the right materials are being used for new buildings.
Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett (VWJ): Do you have a list of vulnerable people and if you do, is it shared with other services?
GF: The Service uses Census data and MOSIAC (a social marketing tool) to predict areas where there are vulnerable people. We can share personal information with some services in the local authority, but cannot pass on names (except in exceptional circumstances). However we do work down to household levels and postcodes with our partners, and contact these people when there could be an emergency.
VWJ: Could the services be integrated? For example, if the Council knew of an elderly person in a street can they let the fire service know?
GF: This is an issue which we want to address in the next financial year, including embedding a person in the local authority to identify and share information about vulnerable people living within B&H.
GMK: It is implicit in your presentation about weighing up the risks of flood v. fire. It appears that here flooding seems to pose the greatest risk.
GF: In terms of greatest risk and demand on resources, then flooding poses more physical obstructions when responding to the situation.
GMK: There could be difficulties in moving appliances from East and West Sussex. How could you draw on resources from West Sussex?
GF: It is taken as read that our neighbouring fire & Rescue Services such as West Sussex would respond immediately. There are good reciprocal arrangements as a result of the ‘mutual assistance’ arrangements specified by the Fire & Rescue Services Act.
GMK: Would it be exactly the same as if the resources were under your own jurisdiction?
GF: Our control room would call on any national assets or assistance.
VWJ: Do you have any comments on the Council’s operations, either short or long term such as planning events. Are the channels of communication alright?
GF: All major events are categorised by them along with the police and local authority. The service has tight links with the Business Continuity teams e.g. looking at the threat of flooding and developing contingency plans. They are looking, with the local authorities, at the issue of refuse fires with the aim of producing long term procedures and make improvements e.g. to refuse collections.
Thurstan Crockett, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Policy explained to the Panel that his role was as the policy lead for NI188 and the Council’s overall approach to climate change, including organising adaptation planning
The statement he provided to the Panel for this meeting explained why we are where we are. Stakeholders have historically viewed mitigation as the top priority and adaptation has been seen as:
‘almost an admission of defeat’.
Therefore they have argued that one should put most of the resources and effort towards mitigation. This approach had not always been helpful when considering climate change issues.
His team were currently reviewing and revising the Climate Change Action Plan and the recommendations from this scrutiny panel were timed to lead into this. In relation to his role as part of Strategy & Governance, in the Policy area, his role was to:
· Keep on top of the science
· Support monitoring – either through the Overview & Scrutiny Commission or a Panel/Select Committee
He believed that if at the end of the process the Panel had significant concerns about the planning or preparedness for climate change, then they should recommend a monitoring process that would address this. The greater their concerns, the greater the need for monitoring. There was also a need to work more with partners, such as the PCT.
There are areas which we need to learn more about; e.g:
· Impacts of migration
· Effects on city when the temperature gets hotter – which could lead to opportunities in areas such as tourism
· Disconnect between footfall and revenue. At the moment only use blunt instruments such as car parking charges. An issue to be addressed is how can the resources be found to renew our infrastructure when it is used so frequently
· The knowledge economy e.g. increased computer use, increased use of air conditioning and need for cooling
To date, there has not been a significant interest in climate change issues evident in the digital community. He believed that the local strategic partnership (LSP) had a significant role, as well as the City Sustainability Partnership.
Heat-related issues which he felt were had not really been explored yet included:
As the lead officer for NI188 he anticipated being able to go from level 0 (along with 50% of other local authorities) to level 4 in the next few years. However this will require increased:
· Awareness – especially an awareness of sound science
Questions to Thurstan Crockett
GMK: We have heard about the history of indifference, or hostility, to adaptation issues. Is this changing? In the last 2 years there has been greater political interest in adaptation. Has this been reflected locally?
TC: Yes. Locally the situation has moved from acceptance, to embracing it as one half of the programme for tackling climate change. The context now feels much better for working on adaptation.
GMK: As adaptation has become a major issue, is funding for adaptation taking away from funds for mitigation?
TC: No, more funds seem to be forthcoming. One example is the £275,000 that has been awarded to the Council to look at flooding planning. Where an issue is life threatening, then there is more money available.
GM: Are there any gaps that the Panel have not yet identified? Other authorities are engaged in this work, so are we duplicating their efforts? Can we touch base with them, especially urban like-for-like?
TC: Despite strong attempts, there are still gaps in the areas which could be covered by witnesses who have agreed to come and give evidence to the Panel, an example being public health. The issue of migration will be discussed by Kirsten who is going to be a witness at the meeting on 26th February. The Panel will also hear from Kent County Council at the next meeting, who have done a lot of NI188 planning and are further down the road than us. They have a better model that we can follow. Officers are also networking and attending events to look for good practice.
VWJ: You are already working on NI188, can the Panel help with this progress? Are there other areas which the Panel needs to look at?
TC: NI188 as a process indicator shows clearly what steps should be taken. What we need to do is follow that process. Behind that will be areas that we need to focus on. It is a good indicator. There is some concern about what will happen to the indicator after the election, such as losing its focus or disappearing altogether. If that happens, then the authority should still use the indicator as a strong guidance.
VWJ: How can we embed the findings of the Panel into the LSP?
TC: Brighton & Hove Strategic Partnership has undertaken to respond to the recommendations produced by the panel and participate in the process and likewise with the Climate Change Action Plan. The Partnerships Team and the Policy Unit work well on co-operation/engagement.
GMK: When trying to get to level 4 of NI188 in the next 4 years. Will this be determined by resource levels?
TC: It will be a question of both resource levels and conflicting priorities.
GMK: What do you need, more staff or more money?
TC: People with skills.
GMK: Is it a major constraint?
TC: It is a constraint, but not a major one. It is also about competing priorities. It is very noticeable among local authorities that are good at adaptation planning, such as Kirklees, are also front runners on mitigation. This suggests that these areas of work should be tackled together rather than competing against each other.
GMK: Is there any more information on public health that we need?
TC: The interaction between heat wave and exhaust emissions and their impact on air quality. This is an issue that we need to take seriously e.g. marrying the city’s transport planning and health impacts with adaptation planning. The Sussex Air Quality work, for example, helps target schools as asthmatics are alerted when the air is of poor quality. There is also a heat wave plan in place, which was used in July last year when there was a short heat wave. Its aim was to ensure that vulnerable people were OK. As already stated, health issues such as skin cancer and insect borne diseases may also need to be addressed in the future.
VWJ: How serious an issue is migration related to climate change?
TC: We hope that this issue can be addressed by our witness from Sussex University.
VWJ: How well does the heat wave plan work?
TC: I am not a public health professional and so not sure. We need to pursue this issue.
Angela Dymott, Assistant Director, Property and Design: told the Panel that her responsibilities included:
· City architect
· Managing and maintaining the property portfolio for the council (valued at £1.8bn)
· Strategic asset management
· Acting as the corporate landlord.
Her service was continuing with mitigation actions, while addressing adaptation in the following ways:
· Raising awareness
· Prioritising actions
· Taking early actions
For example when looking at the building stock, there was the need to consider climate change and the demand for air conditioning. They now try to ensure that new buildings are climate resilient. The accommodation strategy includes:
· trying to change the culture
· find new ways of working
· reduce the number of buildings used
· increase flexible working (enabling more people to work from home -which was useful in the recent snow)
· reducing staff travel
Her service also has a commitment to explain to the vulnerable what to do when the weather is very hot.
They are able to influence the majority of construction sites e.g. in terms of what will go on to the site e.g. Jubilee Library
The service has made good headway in terms of agricultural practices and the natural environment. They launched the Downland initiative to work with farmers on policies such as set aside. Following the flooding in 2000 they worked with farmers to change the way that certain fields were farmed to reduce flooding. These practices were then embedded in their tenancies. They have carried out joint working to protect the city’s water supply. They have also worked with farmers to reduce the nitrates which enter the water supply and then Southern Water has to treat it.
Questions to Angela Dymott
GMK: You have a very wide remit.
GM: It is clear that you have learnt some lessons from the 2000 flooding and built up a good relationship with farmers. A lot of the Council’s policies have been to address mitigation, do you think that we have enough policies to address adaptation?
AD: I think that there are pockets, but not a structured plan which brings all the adaptation issues together. In terms of existing stock and refurbishment, we have a significant number of historic and listed buildings where it is very difficult to adapt. We do as much as we can, for example with routine maintenance such as clearing guttering to reduce the effects of flooding – which reduces the damage caused to buildings. We have a programme in schools to replace existing boilers with condensing boilers.
With new build it is much easier to effectively adapt to climate change. We have introduced measures such as:
· Natural ventilation
· Ground source heat pumps
· Rain water harvesting, sedum roofs
· Sustainable drainage
VWJ: I am pleased to hear about the working relationship you have built up with the farmers.
AD: DEFRA has just produced a low carbon guide and we will be talking to farmers about this guide. We also have a very good relationship with our agricultural agent.
VWJ: I am interested in the Urban Heat Island effects. In terms of strategic urban planning, is there enough consideration given to green spaces?
AD: Our service works closely with Planning e.g. in relation to school buildings. This will cover issues such as not removing school playing fields. In regard to the Parks strategy, we also know that we need these green areas.
GMK: With such a wide remit, what are your adaptation priorities and in which order?
· 1st - new build – as this shows what can be done and covers our new build on existing stock (which in effect is starting to change our stock)
· 2nd- farming
· 3rd – retrofitting
GMK: What is the % of new build, compared to existing stock?
AD: If one includes new extensions on existing stock, there is a considerable capital programme which is much greater than the revenue programme. If you count the extensions as part of the % etc. then you are gradually improving your stock.
GMK: What relationship do you have with the private sector?
AD: The Council has a large commercial portfolio which, through its leases, it can
to look at for example sustainability policies. For example New England House, where it was possible to both encourage and influence. But there are limited resources and it can be difficult to see results. It has proved difficult to engage key sectors, such as digital media.
VWJ: If the Council requests more conditions on planning, will it stop people coming to this city?
AD: Since the credit crunch this has been a very pertinent issue, as developers perhaps will not want to be pushed too much. When the property boom was at its height, then it should have been pushed further. The property market is very uncertain, and so feel they should not be pushed too hard.
I think that B&H have a reputation for being difficult, or demanding. Maybe this means that the balance has been struck correctly – as we do not have many sites and they need to be developed well.
GM: We have done well with the number of BREEAM sites
AD: We aim for BREEAM ‘good’ in school extensions, better than this is not normally possible because the whole school is assessed, and aim for ‘excellent’ where possible. I do not feel that we should back away from BREEAM.
VWJ: Are BREEAM standards getting tougher?
AD: Most buildings are now expected to be ‘Excellent’
Round table discussion
TC: Behind the Fire & Rescue slides there is some information that it would be very interesting to follow up on e.g. response areas such as the zone in Patcham. It would be useful to know which scenarios they do have concerns about responding to. Are they confident about being on top of their ability to respond within 30 minutes. It would also be useful to know more about flood risk in the ’Deans and the Marina.
GMK: I think that the Panel should ask for greater elaboration about this from the Fire Service.
ML: I am struck that the Fire Service does not have statutory responsibility for flooding especially as this is seen as the greatest risk relating to climate change. What if the problems of 2007 were to happen again? What would happen if your Sussex neighbours also needed their resources?
When doing risk assessments, one needs to make a trade off about what to prepare for. How do you go about this? For instance, how much resource do you set aside to respond to very severe possible outcomes which have a very low likelihood of actually occurring? What do you see as the role of central government in those instances?
I was interested to hear that you are struggling to engage with those responsible for delivering public health. Is this a common problem? Do you have ideas on how to engage this group? Are there statutory barriers which discourage engagement? I would welcome your feedback on this issue.
GMK: According to my basic understanding on migration, research has shown that any migration following a disaster would be very local.
TC: Broad migration projections have been used to look at what would happen to Central Europe when there were increased disasters due to severe weather. This has found that such events could result in a lot of people on the move and Southern England may be a destination for a lot of people. Therefore one needs to think about what strain this could put on the infrastructure and services.
GMK: It is very unlikely that there would be mass migration from developing countries, but it could lead to migration round this country.
ML: Have you been thinking about how climate change might affect the security of your supply chains?
GMK: This is a broader issue than adaptation.
TC: The focus in this city has been on local food growing. This has been factored in a ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
The next meeting of the Panel will take place at 14.30 on 26th February.