Posted: Mon 18th Jul 2022

Councillors to probe progress on WCBC’s decarbonisation plan amid climate emergency for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jul 18th, 2022

Additional wildflower planting, improved Active Travel options and a review of emissions from procurement have all taken place as part of Wrexham Council’s plan to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Plan focuses on four key themes -Buildings, Transport and Mobility, Land Use and Procurement – as well as some higher level actions which are integral to WCBC’s response to addressing the climate emergency.

It was created in response to the climate emergency declared by both the Welsh Government and Wrexham Council 2019.

The plan highlights how the local authority will aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.

On Wednesday members of the council’s homes and environment scrutiny committee will receive an update on the aims within the plan and hopefully ask useful questions as part of their role as scrutineers.

This will be the third time that progress has been probed by councillors.

Following the meeting in November an update was given on how the local authority is working with partners, carbon baselining, monitoring and evaluation, council priority, governance and accountability, elevating decarbonisation in our decision making, and evaluating impacts of council decisions and defining work streams and detailed action plans for each of four themes.

This week’s report comments on the challenges that whilst there are challenges “building blocks” that are in place to ensure that services and policies are ready for change.

The report states: “Officers have continued to work at pace to ensure we remain well placed to deliver our commitments as part of the plan and also meet the national and regional challenges and targets set.

“The amount of work associated with decarbonising our services and also acting as a lead to the broader decarbonisation aspirations Wales has should not be underestimated.

“Challenges are significant and as yet there remain some gaps in technology (eg resilient and ready supply of suitable replacements for fossil fuelled heavy goods vehicles, etc) and legislation (eg EV charging infrastructure on street, etc).

“However, there are some key activities and building blocks that we have already begun to develop that will ensure our structure, policies, strategies, and services are ready for change.”

Details of progress over the last few months includes:-

  • Application for funding through Woodland Trust to create ‘Woodland Connections’
  • Joint multi-agency development of a bid for a programme of Circular Economy based projects based at various locations across the
    county to reduce waste and land fill. To potentially include: Repair/refurbs café, Library of things, bike recycling, baby banks for reusable nappies and items sharing, reusable menstrual products, VOIDs waste reuse, community fridge project etc
  • Initial baselining exercise demonstrated significant emissions related to the goods and services we procure, as well as from our buildings and business travel
  • Working with Ambition North Wales to develop options with regards to alternative fuels such as Hydrogen and identify and shortlist potential Smart Local Energy Systems for further investigation work
  • Council officers have facilitated an awareness raising session focussing on the Decarbonisation Plan and the climate and nature crises as part of new Member Induction programme.
  • Carbon Literacy training has been sourced and offered for all Elected Members and senior officers with 15 Councillors (including some
    community councillors), over 30 members of staff including Chief Officers, Heads of Service and Departmental Leads having attended Carbon Literacy Training to date. A further session is booked for July.
  • Agreed to establish a Climate Change and Carbon Reduction Working Group
  • Delivery of pilot workshops at Xplore! for local schools where students were also tasked, as a follow up activity, to create and design an original character for Wrexham Council’s Decarbonisation project. The workshops are aimed at KS2 children with content introducing the 4 key themes, to educate children about climate change and of the ways in which they can help to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Officers have developed an agreed set of considerations for assessing the carbon impacts of decision the council are making through our
    Integrated Impact Assessment process
  • Recruitment of Climate change and carbon reduction manager
  • Revision to job descriptions within carbon team to ensure appropriate for delivery of plan and targets
  • Buildings energy audit for Abbey Road – to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and generate own energy. Energy audits for up to
    10 of the largest buildings and Leisure centres using the ReFit spreadsheet
  • ‘Decarbonising the fleet’ group established with officers from departments that have their own fleet – co-ordinated by E&T
  • Purchase of a small number of ebikes and ecargo bikes
  • High level optioneering for city centre mobility hub for staff and public use
  • Working with the Welsh Government and Region to contribute to the Welsh Government’s review of Bus Services, Engaging with Regional Partners and Transport for Wales to improve rail services in the region as part of Growth Track 360 project, north to south journey time improvements between Wrexham and Gobowen, Ruabon Station Access for All accessibility Improvement
  • City centre/Mold Road route designs developed for delivery
  • Review of illuminated bollards has commenced, with a view to replacement with non-illuminated alternatives
  • Installation of wildflower meadows, fruit trees, forest schools, pollinator beds and tree planting through the Green Infrastructure project
  • Identification of areas suitable for Wildflower planting across the county borough
  • Audit of all WCBC land assets in progress to establish best and lowest carbon use of these assets

The report will be considered by members of the homes and environment scrutiny committee on Wednesday 20 July at 2:30pm. The meeting will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.

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