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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Corporate Resources] 18 February 2014

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Sustainable Development Progress Report

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide an update on progress in co-ordinating sustainable development in the Council.

Recommendations

1.         That Members note the actions taken across the Council to promote sustainable development.

2.         That Members consider progress in delivering the Sustainable Development (SD) action plan 2013/14.  

Reason for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that Members are aware of progress with sustainable development across the Council.

Background

2.         Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) is the lead Scrutiny Committee for sustainable development.  At a meeting of the Committee on the 7th November 2006 it requested regular progress reports on sustainable development.  This report provides an update on work being undertaken across the Council to progress sustainable development since the previous report in June 2013.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         The aim of the proposed  Future Generations (Wales) Bill (previously the Sustainable Development Bill) is to help tackle the generational challenges Wales faces in a more joined up and integrated way and ensure Welsh public services make key decisions with the long term well-being of Wales in mind.

4.         In 2012 Welsh Government consulted on a White Paper on proposals to legislate to put sustainable development at the heart of the Welsh Government and organisations delivering public services in Wales. The Bill will now be introduced in summer 2014 and focus on the role that organisations delivering public services across Wales can play. The proposal is to legislate to provide a clear focus on the challenges the public service is seeking to address, and ensure that decisions recognise the connections between social justice, economic prosperity and the management of natural resources, both now and over the long term.  The Bill is not a stand alone measure but sits within a range of other activities e.g. the Tackling Poverty Action Plan and the Wales' Commissioner for Sustainable Futures will be facilitating a 'national conversation’ about the Bill.  The Commissioner attended Business Cabinet in December and is keen to utilise mechanisms like Vale Viewpoint to assist with the 'conversation’. The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) will take the lead in ensuring the Council complies with legislation and that sustainable development is promoted across the Council.

5.         Sustainability is managed within the Council's Performance Management Framework.  It is mainstreamed within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process, with performance targets set to measure performance which is monitored quarterly by Scrutiny Committees. 

6.         The role of the SDWG is to develop mechanisms and oversee projects to embed sustainable development as the Council’s central organising principle. The group reports to Corporate Management Team.

7.         The Sustainable Development action plan provides a strategic framework for the SDWG to ensure sustainability is embedded in activities across the Council and focuses on proposed sustainability legislation, climate change, Green Dragon, carbon management and the review of the Council's Staff Travel Plan.  A copy of the action plan with updated progress is attached as Appendix A.

8.         The Council has continued to ensure that sustainability considerations are at the forefront of a range of activities. Recent developments to promote sustainable development are detailed below.   

9.         The Corporate Plan 2013-17 includes a range of commitments which will promote sustainable development and these are then included in relevant service plans.  Progress against these commitments will be included in the next report to the Committee following the gathering of end of year performance information.  Detailed below are updates on a number of projects which demonstrate the wide range of activity undertaken across the Council and how the promotion of sustainable development is embedded in activities across all services.

10.      The aim of the Space Project is to maximise the use of the Council's property resources. The project should also lead to a reduction in carbon emissions and the project team are taking account of sustainability impacts as they develop options for the use of the Council's property assets.  The disposal of buildings will reduce the Council's asset base and related maintenance and running costs including energy.  

11.      There is a considerable amount of activity across the Council to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.  The membership of the Carbon Management Group includes officers across all directorates.  The group report to the SDWG and take a lead in identifying projects to reduce carbon emissions. 

12.      There has been a reduction of 11% in building related carbon emissions from the Council's non-domestic buildings for 2012-13 versus 2011 – 12, mainly due to responsibility for leisure buildings energy use being transferred to Parkwood Leisure and Dyffryn Gardens to the National Trust.

13.      The Council is continuing to deliver its commitments within the Carbon Management Plan.  The Salix finance arrangement has been used to deliver a number of improvements since it was agreed in June 2009 and to date the Council has spent £700,000 with a further £15,000 of projects agreed and awaiting installation and a further £45,000 worth of projects considered viable and awaiting agreement from budget holders.  The projects installed or awaiting installation are predicted to save the Council £195,000 per year in fuel costs and reduce emissions by 1,330 tonnes per annum.  The lifetime savings (which take into account the persistence factors of each particular technology) for Salix match funded measures is predicted to be £4.2 million and 28.5 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

14.      To date 85 energy efficiency improvement installations have been installed. This includes cavity wall insulation to 17 properties and loft insulation to 21 properties.  Other projects include the installation of LED lighting, swimming pool covers, new heating controls and motor inverters.

15.      Local Service Board partners have worked together to identify opportunities for co-location, asset management and reducing energy use against an agreed joint target of 3% per annum. The Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff and Vale UHB, South Wales Fire Service and South Wales Police have calculated that in 2012/13 although there was a drop in absolute CO2 emissions of 0.6% there was also a drop in declared floor area meaning that there was an overall increase of 3.7% in carbon emissions per m2 in their buildings in the Vale when energy figures are combined. This is disappointing in light of initiatives undertaken to reduce energy and a meeting bringing Energy Managers together has been proposed.  This will help to identify possible reasons for the increase and action that can be taken to help reduce carbon emissions.

16.      Recent correspondence from Welsh Government emphasises the need for climate change to be embedded within corporate planning and attached as Appendix B are details of how climate change is included within a range of corporate activity.

17.      All council services are continuing to work to maintain an appropriate level of the Green Dragon Environmental Standard.  This work includes setting out improvements for services, monitoring waste and energy use and ensuring staff are aware of their responsibilities and their impact on the environment. 

18.      Work has continued to provide information and raise awareness of sustainability issues through press releases, core brief and staffnet.  A network of energy champions has been developed in the Civic Offices to encourage people to recycle and reduce energy use and is being rolled out to other buildings. In addition there is now an e-learning module on sustainability which all staff are being encouraged to complete.

19.      The Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils with support from other local authorities and housing associations across Wales, have launched 'Cyd Cymru which provides an opportunity to change the way we buy our energy, simplify a complex tariff system to address the issue of rising fuel prices as Winter approaches.    Cyd Cymru is a Wales-wide collective switching buying scheme and the more people who sign up, the better the discounts.  

20.      Vale Viewpoint is the citizens panel and questions on sustainability were included in the Summer survey. The survey aimed to assess Vale residents’ understanding of sustainability issues, specifically sustainable development, and to gain an understanding of how important Vale residents feel sustainability issues to be. The data gathered suggests that the public understanding of sustainability issues and appreciation of their importance may be greater than had previously been assumed.  The results show that significant numbers of Vale residents feel that public organisations operating in the Vale have a role to play in addressing issues of sustainability. However, residents are also willing to consider changing their behaviour to help meet this end.  The results of the survey are included as Appendix C and will help inform Council and partnership activities.

21.      Penarth Learning Community (PLC) is an example of how a major capital project can bring together the range of aspects of sustainability from engagement, environment, economy and social justice.  It is being viewed as an exemplar project and industry events in December showcased the good practice being undertaken through the project. In terms of environmental considerations, waste is being minimised, contractors are using minibuses to reduce journeys and there are energy, waste and travel targets.  There will be a full time Community Development Officer at the PLC and a range of community facilities including adult education and sensory and hydrotherapy pools.  Pupils and staff from the schools as well as the local community have been engaged throughout the development.  One of the biggest successes of the project is where through targeted training and recruitment 3,156 person weeks employment will be created through the project as a contractual clause. 105 people who were previously unemployed have already gained employment through the project and the project team are also trying to ensure as much as possible that money spent on the project is put back into the community by hiring local sub contractors and buying materials locally.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.      Activities detailed within this report will be met within existing resources as detailed in relevant service plans.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

23.      The SDWG and SD action plan help ensure that arrangements are in place to support the promotion of sustainable development across the Council including reporting arrangements to Corporate Management Team and Members. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.      The Local Government Measure 2009 introduced continuous improvement as a statutory duty for local government in Wales.  The subsequent revised Wales Programme for Improvement guidance identifies sustainable development as a key driver for achieving continuous improvement.

25.      Welsh Government published a White Paper in December 2012, 'A Sustainable Wales, Better Choices for a Better Future' which formed the basis of consultation on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill.  The White Paper sets out proposals to enshrine sustainable development as the central organising principle of the wider public service in Wales. A Future Generations Bill will now be introduced in Summer 2014 and focus on the role that organisations delivering public services across Wales can play.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.      The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes ensuring a strong, healthy and just society which is linked to community safety issues.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes social justice, and will require a greater focus on equality and fairness.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      Sustainable development has links to all corporate priorities and activities included in service plans for 2013/14 reflect commitments in the Corporate Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

29.      This is a matter for Executive decision

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.      Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

31.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

 

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac (Head of Performance and Development) - 01446 709760

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Beverly Noon (Operational Manager - Corporate Policy and Communications)

David Powell (Energy Manager)

Carys Lord (Head of Business Management and Innovation)

Paula Ham (Head of Strategic Planning and Performance)

Mike Ingram (Operational Manager Public Housing Services)

Emma Reed (Operational manager - Development Services)

Jane Wade (Operational Manager - Property)

Rob Jones (Consultation Policy Officer)

Victoria Davidson (Operational Manager - Legal Services)

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies - Managing Director

 

 

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