Agenda item - Member Involvement
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- Meeting of Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, Tuesday, 16th March, 2021 4.00pm (Item 79.)
To consider the following matters raised by Members:
(a) Petitions: To receive any petitions;
(b) Written Questions: To consider any written questions;
(1) Climate Neutrality Progress Update- Councillor Nemeth
(2) Tamarisks on Duke’s Mound- Councillor Nemeth
(3) Volk’s Railway Disabilities-friendly Carriage and Extension- Councillor Nemeth
(4) Community Tree Planting- Councillor Nemeth
(c) Letters: To consider any letters;
(d) Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.
(B) WRITTEN QUESTIONS
(1) Climate Neutrality Progress Update
79.1 Councillor Nemeth put the following question:
“A ‘climate emergency’ was declared by Brighton & Hove City Council in December 2018 and a Carbon Neutral 2030 Working Group was set up not long afterwards. Would the Chair, in her capacity as head of sustainability for the city, state the percentage of net carbon dioxide emissions that have been cut since the inception of the project?”
79.2 The Chair provided the following reply:
“The city council declared a Climate Emergency in December 2018 and the cross-party Member Working Group was formally established in December 2019.
The council’s target is to become a carbon neutral city by 2030 and the council reports annually on carbon dioxide emissions from the city.
The city data comes from the Government’s annual statistical release on carbon emissions by local authority, which is released 2 years in arrears.
Therefore in 2020, the latest figures available were from 2018. When the next round of statistics become available in July 2021, they will be for 2019. This time lag in the data means that unfortunately it is not possible to provide the figures requested for the whole city.
However, it is possible to report on carbon dioxide emissions from the council’s own corporate property and emissions. In 2019/20, carbon emissions were reduced by 9.9% compared to 2018/19, thanks to projects such as modernisation of street lighting, decommissioning of out of date oil boilers in council property, and increased investment in solar panel installations.
The council is introducing a new Key Performance Indicator on progress towards the city-wide 2030 Carbon Neutral target, showing the annual percentage change in greenhouse gas emissions (which includes carbon dioxide and other gases). This KPI will be reported for the first time in 2021”.
79.3 Councillor Nemeth asked the following supplementary question:
“I sit on the KPI Working Group and there is a carbon emissions indicator proposed. However, the 2030 target isn’t just about emissions, it’s about capturing storage. Can I ask how the net figure will be reported on?”
79.4 On behalf of the Chair, the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture gave the following reply:
“I’m happy to come back to you with the details as it’s a technical question and I want to get it accurate”.
(2) Tamarisks on Duke’s Mound
79.5 Councillor Nemeth put the following question:
“The Council’s ‘Carbon Neutral 2030’ logo appears on material promoting the removal of the popular tamarisks on Duke’s Mound on the Kemp Town seafront. An increase in biodiversity through the introduction of native species appears to be the principal driver behind this project. Given that there is likely to be less carbon stored at Duke’s Mound in 2030 than there is now, and much carbon dioxide has been introduced into the atmosphere simply through carrying out the physical work involved in the project, how can the use of the Carbon Neutral 2030 logo on this particular project be justified?”
79.6 The Chair provided the following reply:
“In December 2018 the council declared a biodiversity emergency as well as a climate emergency. Consultation has been undertaken with Dr Kate Cole, the county ecologist and has focussed on the Black Rock Local Wildlife site which will be affected as a result of this scheme and which the wider ecology strategy is designed to compensate for. It will also deliver many other benefits in the wider area to benefit native species and improve the public realm.
Tamarisk is a non-native and invasive species that inhibits growth of other plants and shrubs, creating a monoculture. Whilst there will be some initial limited release of carbon as the tamarisk is removed, restored grassland has been shown to have a 70% higher rate of carbon sequestration than monoculture. Therefore, in the long term the improved landscape will offer new opportunities for sequestration of carbon into the soil.
The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) calculation for the area was carried out to assess the change in biodiversity on the site pre and post-development and to assess if a significant gain of biodiversity would be achieved. Significant gain was defined as at least 10% more biodiversity unit’s post-development compared with pre-development”.
79.7 Councillor Nemeth asked the following supplementary question:
“I’ve also seen the logo being used on a council poster titled ‘Air quality boost for Brighton & Hove’ in relation to buses. Buses being less polluting is nothing to do with carbon reduction, so why is the logo being used for buses who’s only fuel source is diesel?”
79.8 The Chair provided the following reply:
“As far as I know, it’s because the buses use cleaner engines which in the long-term, reduces carbon”
(3) Volk’s Railway Disabilities-friendly Carriage and Extension
79.9 Councillor Nemeth put the following question:
“A Notice of Motion calling for various upgrades to Volk’s Railway, submitted by the Conservative Group at TECC Committee on 18th November 2020, received cross-party backing. It included calls for signage, a new platform, a shelter, a disabilities-friendly carriage and an extension towards the Marina. A Budget Amendment calling for a £500,000 investment in the carriage, submitted by the Conservative Group at Budget Council on 25th February 2021, led to the approval of £100,000 towards the project. What discussions from a transport perspective have taken place to date?”
79.10 The Chair provided the following reply:
“The proposals for the Volk’s Railway are currently under consideration by the specialist Volk’s staff who operate the railway.
A review of the proposals will form the basis of a future report to the TECC Committee that you are a member of. The Volk’s Railway is operated as a heritage railway and a visitor attraction and therefore, discussions take place from that perspective, rather than as public transport”
(4) Community Tree Planting
79.11 Councillor Nemeth put the following question:
“Will the Council honour the previous fee for the planting of street trees by community groups of approximately £400 per tree in instances where projects were launched by residents prior to the adoption of the new fee of up to £5,000 per tree?”
79.12 The Chair provided the following reply:
“The price of planting trees varies dramatically- the donation price of £336.53 is for planting a tree in a grass area and covers the cost of this.
It is not adequate to cover the cost of planting in the hard surface of a highway. Although costs vary a lot, the average cost of the recent street tree planting carried out across the City was just below £3000 per tree.
The reason for the difference in price is that there will be underground infrastructure beneath our highway which may need to be moved and from which tree roots may need protection.
Several organisations across the City have been fund raising for tree planting, but it is important that they agree the site and cost with officers prior to making commitments to donors.
Any joint funding of planting schemes needs to be agreed in advance and we cannot retrospectively top up the funding for a planting scheme that residents would like.
Now our tree planting officers are in place we will be looking at a more flexible approach to tree donation including options to pay considerably less for smaller trees on some sites such as the woodland we are planting at Carden Park”.
79.13 Councillor Nemeth asked the following supplementary question:
“If residents were quoted the earlier price, which was sometimes some years ago, would that be honoured?”
79.14 The Chair replied:
“Do you have a specific location in mind?”
79.15 Councillor Nemeth clarified:
“Yes, Glebe Villas”
79.16 The Chair answered:
“I think it’s best that we and the affected residents discuss the matter”.