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        Climate Change Working Group

        The Climate Change Working Group is a cross-party group of Councillors and Officers who meet once a quarter to discuss the ongoing progress on the Climate Change Action plan following the declaration of the Climate Emergency on 11 July 2019. Although the meetings are not public, updates will be shared following each meeting to keep local people appraised of progress.

        Notes from these meeting will be added here. 

        Carbon footprinting and reduction

        The council has won a funding bid to decarbonise the Kent Innovation Centre. This includes exchanging the gas boilers for air source heat pumps, adding insulation, solar pv and battery storage. This is the first step in decarbonising the heat in our estates which is essential when aiming for net carbon zero by 2030.

        We are engaging the services of Lazer Energy to assist with calculating the full carbon footprint of the council’s estates and activities. This will include emissions that are not directly produced by the council, such as those produced in buildings that are leased out. We will calculate how much greenhouse gas emissions will be produced if TDC continues business as usual and then the reductions needed year on year to ensure we meet the Paris Agreement.

        Ecological emergency

        No Mow May.The cabinet agreed a new cutting regime for pollinators in March and No Mow May has started. This means that most parks will not be cut in May (apart from the perimeter and a walkway) to allow little flowers to grow and provide pollen for bees and other pollinators. It is essential to look after our pollinators as they are in great decline and their loss will impact food supply and ecological systems. See the Pollinators page for a list of those areas included in No Mow May. Ornamental and memorial parks and areas with high footfall will not be included.

        Cut and collect. North Foreland and Westbrook Undercliff as well as other areas along the coast are being managed as native wildflower meadows to allow a wider variety of flowers to grow. These specific areas are not cut during the summer months. At the end of the summer the area is cut and the grass is removed. The loss of wildflower meadows is one of the main reasons for pollinator decline and we want to help combat this.

        Tree fund. The council has applied for the Green Recovery Fund which will includes:

        • 100 standard trees
        • 1000 whips (1 year old trees, approx 80 cm tall) to create a mini woodland
        • A community tree planting coordinator to run community tree planting days, engaging the public in environmental action.
        • A short term consultant ecologist to assist with a green network map for future tree planting on land that is not owned by TDC.

        We will know if we are successful in the autumn.

        Home Energy

        • Green Homes Grants. The Government abruptly halted the Green Homes Grants programme in April 2021, they promised a replacement in the autumn.
        • Domestic Energy Advice and Referral Service. Thanet’s Energy Advice service has had 500 referrals in the last 7 months and has provided advice for these clients. Water advice has now been added to the service, assisting families who cannot afford water bills.
        • Fuel Bank Development. The Home Energy Officer (HEO) has met with partner organisations to create a Thanet Fuel Bank to be operational by Autumn 2021. The aim of the bank is to assist fuel poor families in Thanet with crisis support and to provide ways of getting them out of fuel poverty. The covid relief fund was used as a test bed for this initiative.
        • Social Housing Installations. Aran Services have commenced surveys of Thanet Leasehold Service (TLS) properties so that cavity wall insulation and loft insulation can be installed
          Phase 1 – properties rated E, F or G research indicated – undertaken
          Phase 2 – consisting of low D (60 and below) – underway
          Phase 3 – all of the properties without an EPC rating –
          Phase 4 – this is the remaining properties, all of which are rated D and above
        • Local Authority Delivery 2 proposal for BEIS. The HEO has made a proposal to Greater South East Energy Hub for investment into installing a programme of solar PV, solar thermal, air source heat pumps and insulation between April and September 2021. This will be for low income households in D,E,F or G rated properties.
        • Landlords Forum. Officers from Thanet District Council and the National Residential Landlords Association have organised a Kentwide forum to help landlords understand MEES and their responsibility for Energy Savings measures and Carbon Reduction. Register here. 
        • Ramsgate Heritage Action Zone (HAZ). The HEO has been working closely with the consultants in producing advice for householders in conservation or listed buildings in the Ramsgate HAZ. The aim is that this guidance will enable householders to improve the carbon emissions and thermal efficiency of the houses in a way that complies with the conservation guidelines
        • Affordable Homes Programme installations. The units at King Street are complete, these include 30 kWP of solar panel systems.

        Environmental Protection

        Thanet Cycling & Walking Audit site visits & walkovers completed by Sustrans in April 2021. Initial feedback provided to the group on stakeholder comments, cycle routes (8 No.), walking zones (4 No.) and focus junctions (2 No). Draft report due in June 2021.

        Planning

        • Local Plan Update work is progressing, but further consideration of the Environment Bill has been delayed until the autumn. The provisions of the final Bill are likely to have a significant impact on how Local Plan policies are updated in relation to key issues, such as biodiversity net gain, low/zero-carbon buildings etc. Work is currently proceeding on the basis of the proposals set out in the last draft of the Bill. Existing policies relating to tree and woodland planting are being reviewed as part of the update.
        • Under the proposed Planning Bill mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, districts would be divided into growth and protection zones, with a possible third zone for regeneration. Automatic planning approval will be granted to houses, hospitals, shops, schools and offices in growth areas, while development will be restricted in protected zones. At this stage, it is not clear how environmental requirements or standards would be applied through this system; it seems likely that the proposed statutory Design Codes would provide the framework.

        Transport

        Having successfully secured £1.5M of Highways England funding, the ‘Kent Realising Electric Vans Scheme’ is one action KCC is taking to help reduce emissions across the Kent road network by encouraging business fleets to switch to electric. Available to any Kent and Medway business or local authority, the scheme offers the opportunity to ‘try for free’ an electric van for up to two months. TDC were successful in their application and are currently operating an eVan for evaluation.

        Communication

        New questions were added to the Annual Residents’ survey this year to capture respondents’ priorities around climate change following the declaration of the Climate Emergency. Residents were asked which things are the most important in helping to combat climate change and the ecological emergency, what respondents have done personally to change their food and travel habits to reduce their carbon footprint and whether they have changed their energy and spending habits. Results were shared with the working party and will be published as part of the wider publication of the overall findings on the council’s website.

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        TDC Carbon footprint

        The group was updated on the carbon footprint of TDC’s owned buildings and activities. The basic carbon footprint is made up of the gas used to heat TDC buildings, electricity used for the lighting and computers etc, and the diesel and petrol used in the TDC fleet.
        Plans are being put in place to reduce these emissions and to source funding for any costly actions e.g. replacing boilers with air source heat pumps. Further, more complicated scope 3 emissions (emissions from water use, waste, personal car use) will be calculated and a full carbon decent plan will be developed.

        Biodiversity

        With regards to biodiversity, new actions to improve biodiversity across Thanet are being investigated and a new TDC Open Spaces cutting regime, which will manage allocated areas for pollinators to live and feed will be brought to Cabinet this month.

        Plans to go electric

        The group was updated on the start of the plan to go electric by trialling small electric vehicles obtained from a KCC scheme this year. There is a plan to understand the cost of purchasing electric vans and cars as old TDC vehicles need replacing. These actions will also need increased electric charging points provision and will require working with KCC.

        Home energy

        Work to improve sustainable energy and decrease fuel poverty in Thanet’s housing stock has also been undertaken. A number of schemes across the district have been established, numerous council staff and external agencies have been trained on what fuel poverty means and many individuals have been assisted with accessing funding for home energy improvements.

        Cycling and Walking audit

        The district council is helping to progress the cycling and walking audit which aims to improve active transport across the district, reducing air pollution whilst improving health.

        Local Plan review

        There is local plan review work under way with regards to biodiversity net gains, climate change and renewable energy in developments. This will be predominantly directed by new guidelines released by the government this year. For example the government is finalising their analysis on biodiversity net gain consultation that was carried out in 2019 and expect to publish a response alongside the Environment Bill later this year. They are also finalising their guidance for developers through the Future Homes Standard, which will improve the energy efficiency of new housing. The government consultation describes the Future Homes Standard as follows: “It will require new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency and will be introduced by 2025.”

        Communications

        Information on the climate change, biodiversity and tree strategies have been added to the council’s website, along with advice on how to take part in the climate and ecological emergency. These strategies will be fully consulted on when the first drafts are approved by council.

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