Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:

 

(a)         Petitions: To receive any petitions;

 

(b)         Written Questions: To consider any written questions;

 

(i)            Woodburning Stoves- Councillor Heley

 

(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;

 

(i)            Stoneham Tree Planting- Councillors Nemeth and Peltzer-Dunn

 

(d)         Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.

 

(i)            Car Free City Centre by 2023- Councillor Heley

(ii)          Hydrogen Hub for Brighton & Hove- Councillor Lloyd

Minutes:

(B)     WRITTEN QUESTIONS

 

(i)           Woodburning Stoves

 

59.1      Councillor Heley put the following question:

 

“This winter, many residents have been in touch with me about woodburning stoves. Woodburners and open fires cause smoke and contribute to our extremely dangerous levels of air pollution in our city. Is the council doing anything to deal with this? What more could the council do?”

 

59.2      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Thank you for your question Councillor Heley.  I can understand why your residents have some concerns about them and their effects on air quality and therefore people’s health.

I referred to the Clean Air Act in my response about woodburning to Adrian Hills’s question earlier this afternoon.  More recent legislation agreed in the 1990s sets out the statutory duties of councils to assess and improve local air quality, including the declaration of Air Quality Management Areas where legally binding pollution standards are not met.  It also covers the assessment of statutory nuisance, and complaints relating to domestic solid fuel burning and smoke are received and considered by the council’s Environmental Health Officers under that legislation.

The council’s current Air Quality Action Plan was produced in 2015 and includes a section on domestic solid fuel burning.  The council’s website also has a lot of information about this in the pollution and air quality section, on a page entitled ‘Using solid fuels safely and legally’. There have been a number of funded projects with the relevant Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (which is known as DEFRA), which have helped raise awareness of the issues.  I also said to Adrian Hills that I would ask officers to look more closely at woodburning as part of our future review of our Air Quality Management Areas.

DEFRA is also reviewing the Clean Air Act and consulting with Local Authorities on how to make it more useful.  We very much hope that this work will be progressed by the Government after the election and that the outcomes will be a good basis on which to further consider what, and how much more, the council can do”.

 

(C)     LETTERS

 

(i)           Stoneham Area Tree Planting

 

59.3      The Committee considered a Letter from Councillor Nemeth and Councillor Peltzer Dunn requesting the support of the committee to combined four tree planting projects into a single project with a designated lead officer and timetable.

 

59.4      The Chair provided the following response:

 

“The available staff in arboriculture are working on the tree planting agreed by ET&S Committee, public donations, the remedial inspection and pruning work reported to this committee. There is currently no capacity to survey or arrange additional planting.

The donated trees in Stoneham Recreation ground that have died are not scheduled to be replanted this year.  However, as parks planting is a relatively straight forward process I have asked for these to be added to this year’s tree order and subject to availability from the supplier, these will be planted this year.

An additional post has been created in the arboricultural section to help deal with the upsurge of interest in tree planting and the increased inspection regime introduced for our tree stock. We are currently having service delivery problems which we anticipate will ease prior to next year’s planting season”.

 

59.5      Councillor Wares expressed his hope that support could be given to the request as residents and ward councillors had spent a great deal of time on the projects. A solution was offered, and support would be timely given the current focus and commitments relating to climate change.

 

59.6      The Chair stated that she would speak with the City Parks team and see what help could be offered.

 

59.7      RESOVLED- That the Committee note the Letter.

 

(D)      NOTICES OF MOTION

 

(i)           Car-free city centre by 2023

 

59.8      The Chair noted that a revision to the Notice of Motion had been circulated and in line with council procedure rules, the revision would need to be accepted by a majority of the committee members. The committee agreed to this proposal.

 

59.9      Councillor Heley moved the following joint Green Group and Labour Group Notice of Motion:

 

“In January 2020 York City Council pledged to become the UK’s first car free city centre within three years, and in 2019 we saw Bristol pledge to become our country’s first city to ban diesel cars from entering parts of the city centre. Edinburgh already hosts regular car-free days and has further plans to shift away from private car use. Brighton and Hove City Council must take action on a similar scale.

 

The climate emergency, the environmental and public health crisis caused by air pollution, and dangerous roads in the city can and must be tackled by drastically reducing private car use in the city centre.

 

Therefore, this committee:

 

1)    Requests that a report is brought to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee that explores the feasibility and costs of developing a car-free city centre by 2023 in Brighton and Hove, for the October 2020 committee meeting.

 

2)    Requests that this report will detail costs and practicalities, rules for exemptions (for those with accessibility needs and some trades vehicles for example) and how the council’s plans to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone for private vehicles in the city centre can act as a transition to a car free city centre

 

3)    Notes that this notice of motion should be considered during the council’s Climate Assembly, as part of our resident-led conversation as a city about how we reach the target of becoming net-zero by 2030”

 

59.10   Introducing the Notice of Motion, Councillor Heley stated that requesting a feasibility report was a sensible step in understanding what could be done to ensure the city met its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. Councillor Heley stressed that people with disabilities should be at the forefront when considering such a proposal as was highlighted in the Motion. Other key exemptions to consider were taxis, trade vehicles and emergency vehicles. Councillor Heley referred to other potential benefits such as improved air quality and a reduction in road traffic casualties.

 

59.11   Councillor Wilkinson formally seconded the Notice of Motion. Councillor Wilkinson stated that the council was compelled to consider all the ways in which could become carbon neutral and combat climate change to preserve the environment for future generations. Councillor Wilkinson stated that the council had to introduce a transport system that was carbon neutral in a short number of years. Councillor Wilkinson also highlighted the number of deaths caused not only by road traffic casualties but also by air pollution.

 

59.12   Councillor Wares stated his support for the Notice of Motion. Councillor Wares stated that everything should be explored in detail and a wide consultation with all residents and welcomed the proposal for an economic impact assessment. Councillor Wares noted that the cities specifically mentioned in the NoM were all very different to Brighton & Hove which had unique challenges, and all had established a Park & Ride providing choice to residents not to use a vehicle in the city centre. Councillor Wares stated that it was important to consider and review all forms of transport and highlighted that two of the cities most polluted roads in North Street and Western Road were almost exclusively used by buses. Councillor Wares explained that there were other factors to consider such as knock on effect on parking income that provided for  concessionary bus passes and subsidised bus routes.

 

59.13   Councillor Davis welcomed the Notice of Motion that was an important step in discussing how best to safeguard the city in terms of both health and climate.

 

59.14   Councillor West welcomed the comments made by Councillor Wares adding that there would be more such challenges arising as the feasibility exercise progressed. Councillor West stated that the city was overly car dependent and the issue would be a challenge.

 

59.15   Councillor Moonan thanked Councillor Heley and Councillor Wilkinson for proposing and seconding the motion and that consensus would be an important part of moving toward carbon neutrality. Councillor Moonan stated that engagement through the Climate Assembly and wide-ranging debate with residents was vital.

 

59.16   The Chair provided the following response:

 

“I am very interested in developments, relating to harmful emissions, that are arising across the UK as well as cities across Europe and farther afield. As you know we as a Council formally declared a Climate Emergency and have set out an ambitious Carbon Reduction Programme and will be establishing a Climate Assembly to consider these matters and will be informing our future thinking.

I believe it worthwhile that the committee be informed of the feasibility, costs associated and other potential implications of introducing a car-free city centre by 2023. 

In my view, it would help us build a knowledge base, alongside those actions we are already taking, on the type of measures we could undertake to prioritise the measures that this City will need to deliver on air quality and become Carbon Neutral by 2030.

It’s important that we consider this alongside the discussions that will be taking place through the Climate Assembly and through consultation with residents and stakeholders on the new Local Transport Plan, so I am pleased to see this emphasised in the revised motion”.

 

59.17   RESOLVED- That the Committee agree the Notice of Motion as follows:

 

1)      Requests that a report is brought to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee that explores the feasibility and costs of developing a car-free city centre by 2023 in Brighton and Hove, for the October 2020 committee meeting.

 

2)      Requests that this report will detail costs and practicalities, rules for exemptions (for those with accessibility needs and some trades vehicles for example) and how the council’s plans to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone for private vehicles in the city centre can act as a transition to a car free city centre

 

3)      Notes that this notice of motion should be considered during the council’s Climate Assembly, as part of our resident-led conversation as a city about how we reach the target of becoming net-zero by 2030

 

(ii)          Hydrogen Hub for Brighton & Hove

 

59.18   On behalf of the Green Group, Councillor Lloyd moved the following Notice of Motion:

 

“This council has declared climate emergency, and it is time we explored the potential of developing or own municipal Green energy company with a specific emphasis on the production and delivery of Hydrogen Fuel from a dedicated Hydrogen Hub in the city. We have seen other authorities such as Hackney Council successfully launch public owned Green Energy companies and we have perfect resources in this city to do the same.

Hydrogen has huge potential as a clean fuel of the future that can power our fuel cell buses and eventually replace 20% of the natural gas that we use in our domestic boilers and cookers. Hydrogen is therefore seen as an essential part of any future zero carbon energy mix and we are in an excellent position in Brighton and Hove to produce it cheaply and cleanly.

 

Therefore, this committee:

 

(1)     Recognises the potential of hydrogen as a source of clean energy

 

(2)     Requests that a feasibility report is brought to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee outlining the potential of establishing a hydrogen hub in Brighton and Hove, including practicalities, costings and potential locations.

 

59.19   Councillor West formally seconded the Notice of Motion and referenced work already in place by other local authorities on the subject matter and the positive impact it had realised.

 

59.20   Councillor Wares thanked Councillor Lloyd for the proposal and his research on the matter. Councillor Wares asked if the use of hydrogen would be cheaper for end users and whether the feasibility assessment could include options for use in council homes and to power its vehicle fleet.

 

59.21   Councillor Lloyd explained that the price of hydrogen was dictated by the cost of electricity used to create it.

 

59.22   Councillor Moonan noted that she had previously raised the issue of the number of requests for reports made at every meeting and the impact that may have creating an unsustainable workload for officers. Councillor Moonan stated that a detailed work programme could not be maintained when new requests were approved on a case by case basis.

 

59.23   Councillor West stated that whilst he appreciated that resources were stretched and there was a lot for officers to do, in his view, the Administration would obliged to find the necessary resource through the upcoming Budget setting process.

 

59.24   Councillor Wares stated that Members were obliged to react to issues that were raised with them and some of the matters raised were historical where no adequate action had been undertaken or proposed and were not new issues.

 

59.25   The Chair provided the following response:

 

“The council recognises that hydrogen has great potential to be a clean replacement for intensive energy uses like heavy freight, buses, aviation, shipping and heating. 

Hydrogen can be a strong complement to electrification on the journey towards a zero-carbon energy system. 

Developing a low-carbon hydrogen economy over the next decade could help Brighton & Hove City Council to meet its 2030 carbon neutral pledge, as well as addressing poor air quality in the city.  I have personally met with a number of businesses who would like to explore opportunities to develop hydrogen infrastructure in the city.

Brighton & Hove City Council is leading on the Greater Brighton Energy Plan, which will set the scene for a low carbon energy system that benefits our communities and environment. Officers and I are engaging with key players on future hydrogen development including the gas utilities, transport providers and business partners.

Establishing a manufacturing hub that will be part of a future development of our energy system is being looked at as part of the process of developing and implementing the Energy Plan across Greater Brighton. I expect that Plan to include suggestions that will generate ideas that in turn will inform other, more detailed, feasibility studies that will come forward to this committee.

Through the Energy Plan, and as part of our work to carbon neutral by 2030, we will continue to work with neighbouring local authorities, businesses, academics and other stakeholders including Greater Brighton, Coast2Capital, and Greater South East Energy Hub on many innovations in the energy system, including hydrogen.

We will look to move towards a more developed infrastructure to support the production, use and sale of hydrogen. For example, there may be opportunities to trial the installation of hydrogen-ready hybrid boilers. We will also ensure that the hydrogen economy is embedded in the Coast2Capital Local Industrial Strategy, to meet the energy and transport needs of our community”.

 

59.26   RESOLVED- That the Committee agree the Notice of Motion as follows:

 

This Committee:

 

(1)     Recognises the potential of hydrogen as a source of clean energy

 

(2)     Requests that a feasibility report is brought to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee outlining the potential of establishing a hydrogen hub in Brighton and Hove, including practicalities, costings and potential locations.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 5.40pm and reconvened at 5.50pm

Supporting documents:

 


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