Agenda item

Kent Environment Strategy Progress, Energy and Air Quality

To discuss and consider and make recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste on the challenges outlined, progress made against KES Targets and identification of significant new areas of work.


Katie Stewart (Director of Environment, Planning and Enforcement) and Carolyn McKenzie (Head of sustainable Business and Communities) was in attendance for this item.


During this item Mr Payne declared that he was a member of the Country Land owners Association (CLA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).


  1. Katie Stewart (Director of Environment, Planning and Enforcement) introduced the report which set out the Kent Environment Strategy (KES) that had been adopted by Kent County Council (KCC) in 2016. The report highlighted the current state of the environment, the impact that KES activities were having on the environment, the progress made against KES targets and identified actions needed to combat the challenges ahead.


  1. Carolyn McKenzie (Head of sustainable Business and Communities) presented a series of slides that set out the 2017 State of the Environment report. The report considered a broad range of environmental, social, economic and health issues that had been impacted by the environment and the activities that could be taken in partnership to maximise resources and achieve the best outcome.


  1. In response to questions the officers provided further information:


a.    Carolyn McKenzie said that as part of the Low Emissions Strategy work, the Highways, Transportation and Waste (HT&W) team was reviewing what policies could be adopted as part of this. The current position of the National Planning Policy was that air quality damage could be resolved through charging points however there was no direction as to the model or infrastructure required. Carolyn McKenzie said that policies were being developed that could be adopted by all districts within Kent and that the HT&W team were working in conjunction with Kent design and UK Power Network to ensure that new housing developments could accommodate this. There would be a Design Workshop held on 6 March 2018 to address some of the issues.


b.    In response to start/stop technology, the Council applied the ISO 14001:2004 specification to its procurement of vehicles to help minimise the impact of carbon emissions. The HT&W team would continue to work with external providers to enhance environmental performance.


c.    In response to funding for charging points, many Local Authorities opted against applying for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme grant as it did not cover the entire cost of instalment. Carolyn McKenzie informed Members that Kent County Council had to establish its role before delivering such a project.


d.    Carolyn McKenzie informed Members that the Low Emission Strategy aimed to be completed in the summer however the work would be on-going as strategies were developed.


e.    In response to Members concerns regarding bus services, Carolyn McKenzie confirmed that the issue around idle vehicles was being addressed and that an anti-idling policy was being developed across sectors. Businesses, including Volvo, supported the transition to a low carbon economy and worked with the Council to retrospectively fit diesel buses with electric. The pilot of electric buses would be launched in March 2018 and Members would receive an update at future committees.


f.     Carolyn McKenzie said that environment regeneration had to be looked at from a planting perspective and that biodiversity was a fundamental component in sustaining the bee population. She welcomed the prospect of working with the Plan Bee project and welcomed Members suggestions on measures that could be taken to raise awareness.


g.    In response to issues around climate change, Carolyn McKenzie said that the Met Office would be launching its upgraded Climate Projection that could provide information on high impact events at a higher resolution of 2.2km and this in turn would provide the HT&W team with a detailed projection of how climate change would affect different areas in the county. Carolyn McKenzie informed Members that improved technology increased opportunities to deal with climate change at an early stage, this however would require a risk exposed approach. 


h.    In regard to renewable energy, Carolyn McKenzie said that solar panels had been installed on a number of schools and that those on Invicta House had generated a greater income than initially anticipated. Work had also been carried out to install solar panels within Cycler Park which was a non-profit organisation. Kent County Council had also worked in coalition with Salix Finance Ltd. to provide funding for energy efficiency projects within the public sector. Carolyn McKenzie said that the Council had to ensure it reduced it carbon levels first before starting to look at renewable energy. 


i.      Carolyn McKenzie said that there were two projects:


·         A battery storage pilot across several sites

·         A European funded project for battery storage in a domestic setting linked to PV panels.


j.      In terms of quantifying the benefits, Carolyn McKenzie said that the complexity of work combined with the minimal resources meant that KCC did not have the infrastructure in place to provide a detailed analysis of the environmental impact.


  1. Members commended the work undertaken in relation to the Kent Environment Strategy and praised the officers for the well written report and captivating presentation.


  1. RESOLVED that the committee endorsed the recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Planning. Highways, Transport and Waste on the challenges outlined, progress made against KES targets and identification of significant new areas of work.


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