Agenda item

Climate Change Action Plan

Planning & Sustainability – (C-050-2021-22) - This report provides members with a summary of the objectives and purpose of the Climate Change Action Plan and a summary of the changes made following the public consultation period.



The Cabinet endorsed the adoption of the Climate Change Action Plan.




The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Sustainability, Councillor Bedford, introduced the report. He noted that the Climate Change Action Plan stated the steps to be taken to deliver on the Climate Emergency that was declared on 19 September 2019 with the motion to do everything within the Council's power to make Epping Forest District Council area carbon neutral by 2030. The plan aligned with the corporate objectives of keeping the district moving sustainably and enabling residents to access new opportunities for employment, and to reduce the carbon footprint across the district and within our council. There were also links to the environmental and sustainable travel Policies T1, DM 2 and DM15-22 in the Emerging Local Plan.


The Climate Change Action plan also had direct and indirect links with further policy and projects throughout the Council, for example, the Roding Valley and North Weald Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace projects that would be brought forward in Summer/Autumn 2022 and also a further review of the Waste contract.


This report provided members with a summary of the objectives and purpose of the Climate Change Action Plan and a summary of the changes made following the public consultation period.


For context, in August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the ‘Climate Change 2021 Report: The Physical Science Basis’. The report gave evidence to show the ‘widespread and rapid’ changes to our climate that have occurred as a result of human influence. It then gave further evidence on the wide-ranging and severe impacts of global warming where temperatures reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. In November 2021 the Glasgow Climate Pact was agreed at the COP26 Climate Change Conference. The aim of the pact was to keep alive the hope of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5C, as previously agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement, and increase climate ambition and action from countries.


The Climate Change Action Plan examined the main sources of carbon emissions both within the Councils own operations and across the District. It outlined direct action the Council were taking to reduce emissions of its own activities. As well as steps that could be taken to facilitate and influence emissions reductions in the wider District, enabling the area to become carbon neutral by 2030.


Reaching this target would be a considerable task involving collaboration and engagement from staff, residents, businesses, suppliers, and partners, along with policy support from the UK Government. The plan will be regularly updated to account for further developments in national legislation, regulation, technology, and policy. Where activities and monitoring were to be confirmed these will be updated following consultation feedback.


Councillor Philip said it was a good comprehensive report. He noted the action plan and that a vast majority of emissions come from transport and that a lot of these came from the M25 and M11, which we had no control over. The actions called for in the report to reduce travel within the district would not have any effect on the motorways. We did need to look at this, but he noted that we had little control. Councillor Bedford noted that the M25 was probably the most difficult challenge, but drivers on the M11would also now come to the end and hit the congestion charges in London. This also means that residents from this district are changing vehicles as fast as they can which was reflected by recent figures so hopefully the next time, we do some monitoring, emission would show a decline within the district. We were also looking at ways to monitor the M25 and M11.


Councillor H Whitbread asked if we were working with Essex County Council (ECC) on this as they were doing similar work to us and if we were collaborating with any other organisations. Councillor Bedford replied that, they were working with other organisations such as the Corporation of London and other linked in organisations as well as ECC.


Councillor Sunger commented that given that social media was very powerful were we using it to publicise our message? He was told that it had been widely publicised, that officers have had conversations with the Youth Council and other groups. Social Media was part of their campaign to drive forward the educational side of it.


Councillor Lion commented that the air mitigation strategy stated that it was thought that the majority of pollution was caused by local traffic. Could we get some evidence in the form of figures on this assertion? And, as public transport was essential, so was electric charging; we would need to work closely with Essex Council whose responsibility was for on-street charging points. This was something to look at, as he had started looking into this six years ago and the Council had not made much progress since.  Councillor Bedford replied that a large source of pollution data in the district came from work done in 2016/17 using ANPR system. The next air samples would be taken in 2024/25. As for on street charging, we have had a couple of meetings with some outside companies regarding what they could provide for the district.  We were still in the discussion stages. It had been estimated that we would need about 500 on street charging points in the district. If we put them in, we would then need a 24/7 monitoring system to ensure they were all working, and no broken ones were left to long without being repaired.


Councillor Murray said we would need to get them in as soon as possible as this was important. We also needed to get on with energy efficiency on council estates and in social housing. Then there was also bus usage, which may not be something we had direct control over but was something we could advocate for. And, on encouraging active travel to schools to address the impact of school traffic and promote school streets. He noted that there was a school in Loughton actively seeking to promote having a school street. And lastly, on the campaign on raising the awareness on air pollution on the SAC. He noted that local people were not aware of the importance of the forest and the consequences of air pollution. Councillor Bedford asked if Councillor Murray could speak to Loughton Town Council to put together an education leaflet or set up a website for local school use on the importance of the forest.


Councillor Chris Pond welcomed the report. He noted the points made about the M25 & M11 and that they were major players in the ecology of Epping forest district and the SAC. It was said that the traffic around Wakes Farm was largely local, but this did not apply when either motorway was closed, and these roads were used as unofficial diversions which would increase the pollution. If anything could be done to avoid this happening it should be explored. He noted that there was no mention of embodied carbon and the demolition of buildings which should be mentioned in the report. There was also no mention in the action plan about the Lea Valley Regional Park and other similar organisations which should be more closely involved. And finally, the Roding Valley and the possible application as a SANG, but the correct procedures must be followed for this as it’s on a 125-year lease to Loughton Town Council, but they have not had any communications about this. Councillor Bedford commented on the delays caused when the M25 was shut, and traffic came through the district and principally the Wakes Arms. This was something outside of our control although it happened on a regular basis. As for pollution from the M25 itself we found that there was a drop off around the 25-meter mark from the motorway itself, but it will be monitored. The points on the embedded Carbon were noted. This area was generally covered in the sustainability guidance documents. Also noted were his points on the Lea Valley Regional Park.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse noted that there was an update due on walking, cycling and public transport use. He presumed this would be inserted before it was published. And he noted that it would be updated annually along with the KPI’s and presumably it would come back to scrutiny for an annual update. How flexible was this, could it be updated as it went along to take into account variables. Councillor Bedford noted they were now selling more electric vehicles than petrol ones, and that an update would be put into the action plan and reviewed regularly.


Councillor Chris Pond noted that he had been in contact with the relevant Portfolio Holder on school streets, mentioned earlier, and they were hopeful progress could be made.


Councillor Heap said that the plume from the motorways were subject to atmospheric conditions and could sweep into the centre of the forest when the conditions were right. He also noted that we may be able to support making micro generation possible by encouraging those in power to support the use of micro generation plants. Councillor Bedford noted this but said this was something to look to in the future. We do have a need for energy generation but was not sure how we could do it.





The Cabinet endorsed the adoption of the Climate Change Action Plan.


Reasons for Proposed Decision:


To ensure that policy was in place to support the declaration of a Climate Emergency in September 2019 and the pledge to do everything within our power to become a carbon neutral District by 2030.


Other Options for Action:


Not to agree the adoption of the Climate Change Action Plan, this would mean that a delay in providing a plan to address the declared Climate Emergency.



Supporting documents: