Climate Emergency and Community Engagement
- Meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Climate Change Subgroup, Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 2.00 pm (Item 6.)
Report of the Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and the Strategic Lead, Neighbourhoods
In November 2018, the Council’s Executive agreed to the establishment of science-based carbon reduction targets for Manchester, which required the city to become net zero carbon by 2038. In July 2019, the Council declared a Climate Emergency. The declaration was explicit about the Council working with residents / other partners at a neighbourhood level, to ensure they are proactively involved in achieving this target.
This report provides a summary on progress to date, and building on this momentum, outlines further actions that communities, Officers, Members and other partners, want to work on together to help reduce carbon. Building capacity to accelerate action at a neighbourhood level is key, as well as embedding priority actions in neighbourhood based Ward Plans.
The Subgroup considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) and the Strategic Lead, Neighbourhoods that described that in November 2018 the Council’s Executive agreed to the establishment of science-based carbon reduction targets for Manchester, which required the city to become net zero carbon by 2038. In July 2019, the Council declared a Climate Emergency, noting that the declaration was explicit about the Council working with residents and other partners at a neighbourhood level, to ensure they were proactively involved in achieving this target.
The report submitted provided a summary on progress to date against this activity, and building on this momentum, outlined further actions that communities, Officers, Members and other partners, wanted to work on together to help reduce carbon. Building capacity to accelerate action at a neighbourhood level was key, as well as embedding priority actions in neighbourhood based ward plans.
The Subgroup considered the key points within the report, which included: -
· Providing a context and background to this activity;
· Progress to date, describing a range of initiatives and activities;
· Describing the ambitions and plans to build on this momentum to ramp up delivery and have an even greater impact to reduce carbon;
· Next steps;
· The approach to communications;
· The approach to the sharing of skills and experience to support and embed this activity; and
· Information on tools and capacity available.
Some of the key points that arose from the Subgroup’s discussions were: -
· Welcoming the report and noting the activities delivered in wards;
· Recognising the ambition and challenge to scale up this activity to address climate change, suggesting that car free days and road closures should be expanded;
· The Council should use all of its influence through policy levers, across a range of activities, including planning and housing to address climate change and lead by example;
· Communications issued by the Council should be explicit in regard to climate change to reinforce the message;
· Recognising the importance of personal responsibility and behaviours to address climate change;
· Neighbourhood investment funds should be awarded to support and deliver activities and schemes designed to tackle climate change; and
· An update was sought on carbon literacy training for staff in the Neighbourhood Teams and was climate change being incorporated into respective wards plans.
The Members heard from Julie Ryan, Friends of Ryebank Fields. She spoke to the Subgroup and stated that the Ryebank Fields area of land did not appear on the published Brownfield Register and therefore it was their assertion that any plans to build housing on Ryebank Fields was contrary to local and national planning policy. She stated that this land was green belt land with similar status to other protected locations within the area, and as such should not be used for development.
The Strategic Lead, Neighbourhoods informed the Members that the community initiatives and projects were the result of engaging with, and listening to local residents and supporting them to deliver various projects. He stated that the Neighbourhoods Directorate were leading on the issue of climate change at a neighbourhood level for the Council, and all Neighbourhood Team Officers would have received their carbon literacy training by the end of March. He further commented that the Directorate was continually seeking to influence the many partners of the Council, including Greater Manchester Police, housing providers, the NHS and businesses, and regularly engaged in positive conversations with them regarding climate change and actions to mitigate this. He added that these conversations were then fed back and used to inform strategies and actions.
The Strategic Lead, Neighbourhoods confirmed that climate change was included in all ward coordination meetings and was explicit in ward planning. He further commented that behaviour change was being influenced by communities and residents positively and constructively engaging with each other.
The Neighbourhood Manager, Central Neighbourhood Team responded to the comment from a Member regarding car free days. She said that they were seeking to build on the positive events and were working with partners to expand this, adding that they had bold ambitions to extend car free days and deliver regular road closures to promote and encourage walking and cycling.
The Deputy Chief Executive informed the Members that council policies, including the City Centre Transport Strategy were being reviewed to ensure that climate change would be embedded throughout these. She stated that it was important to use all available levers to influence change, commenting that the Highways Department procurement process was used to challenge suppliers to mitigate their direct and indirect carbon emissions. She further commented on the issue raised regarding communications by stating that this would be reviewed to ensure all communications were strengthened and messages aligned to climate change activity.
To recommend that the issue regarding the status of Ryebank Fields, raised by the resident be referred to the Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport for a response.