PAPER B

 

Report: For Decision

REPORT TO THE CABINET                                                                 

 

Date:     1 MAY 2007

 

Title:      THE NOTTINGHAM DECLARATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

 

REPORT OF THE CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT

 

PURPOSE

 

1.                  To approve the signing by the Isle of Wight Council of the ‘Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change’. 

 

OUTCOMES

 

2.                  The ‘Nottingham Declaration’ is an initiative to assist local authorities in developing and implementing sustainable policies to address the impacts of climate change.  Local authorities have an important role to play in both tackling and adapting to climate change, not just in the way they run their estates and services, but also as leaders of the local community. 

 

3.                  By signing the ‘Nottingham Declaration’ the Council recognises that climate change is likely to be one of the key drivers of change within the Isle of Wight community over the next century.  The Declaration will also commit the Council to a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from it’s own ‘Authorities’ operations as well as encouraging all sectors of the local community to take the opportunity to act in a similar way (a copy of the Declaration Charter is attached as Appendix 1).

 

CONFIDENTIAL/EXEMPT ITEMS

 

4.                  Not applicable.

 

BACKGROUND

 

5.                  2007 is forecast to be the warmest year on record globally, and the scientific certainty of a changing climate is irrefutable.   Climate change is, without doubt, going to exert an increasing influence on our lives over the next decades, for example by affecting the severity of coastal erosion, flooding and landslide events.  Many climate impacts, particularly the most damaging ones, will be associated with an increased frequency and intensity of storm events. 

 

6.                  In 2002, the Executive first considered the issue of the ‘Nottingham Declaration’, but more specifically, in the context of coastal issues. However, whilst there was some information on coastal issues it was realised that more information was required across a broader portfolio of services before the Council could commit in the most effective way to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as suggested in the declaration.  In the meantime the Council joined the South-East Partnership and it has been actively involved in assessing the impacts of climate change for the Isle of Wight.

 

7.                  In many areas of its activities the Council is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. These include:

 

·         Energy Procurement: since 2002 the Council has purchased 100% green electricity.

 

·         Energy Management in Buildings: The Council installed a CHP unit at Medina Leisure Centre in 2003 and a large (13.8kW) photovoltaic system at Medina High School in 2005.  A high performance PIR lighting system has been fitted at Seaclose offices.

 

·         Fleet Vehicles: Under the Government’s Powershift programme a number of fleet vehicles have been converted to run on LPG.  During 2006 a small van was converted to run on pure vegetable oil and the trial has proven very successful with greater fuel efficiency and improved performance.  A number of pool bicycles have been introduced in the Highways Department.

 

·         Waste: The Council has been at the forefront of recycling initiatives.  Diversion rates for municipal waste exceed 50% on a regular basis and the treatment facilities include in-vessel composting and the processing of garden waste into a soil conditioner.  In late 2006 an office recycling scheme (for paper and cardboard) was introduced to County Hall and the Coastal Centre and will be rolled out to other offices during 2007.

 

·         Street Lighting:  All streetlighting is low-wattage (70w) High Pressure Sodium lighting which complies with good practice.  Photosensors in the streetlights are set at the lowest lux setting so that lighting hours are minimised.  More than half the ticket machines are solar powered.

 

·         Public Transport:  In 2005, concessionary travel for people aged over 60 was extended by the Council to 24 hours, 7 days a week.  A 50p student ticket, valid at all times, was also introduced.  Both these measures have resulted in a significant increase in public transport usage.

 

·         Energy Management: Annual campaigns during 2005 and 2006 have encouraged staff to reduce wastage by turning off lights and appliances when not in use.

 

·         Carbon Management Plan: With support from the Carbon Trust, the Council has prepared a Carbon Management Plan which identifies carbon emissions resulting from its activities and sets targets for carbon reductions.  Projects have been identified which will reduce carbon emissions by 4% p.a. for the next 3 years with an expectation that this level of reduction will then continue year on year.

 

8.                  Through the Centre for the Coastal Environment more knowledge has been gathered about the likely impacts of climate change on the Island. In 2003 the Council was successful in obtaining funding from the European Union LIFE-Environment Programme for a three year study called RESPONSE (Responding to the risks from climate change, www.coastalwight.gov.uk /response), which was led by the Council’s Centre for the Coastal Environment.  The completion of this work in December 2006 has provided a strategic framework for addressing and adapting to the physical risks resulting from climate change, whilst in parallel, a number of other Council initiatives have been progressing.  Key progress across the Council in terms of mitigating the impacts of climate change include the following:-

 

·         Incorporation of allowance for sea level rise in the design of new coastal defences.

·         IW Council is a member of the South-East of England Climate Change Partnership.

·         The IW Centre for the Coastal Environment has secured funding for implementation of a Strategic Coastal Monitoring Programme for the Island   – funded by Defra to 2012.

·         The EU LIFE-Environment Project ‘RESPONSE’ (Responding to the risks from climate change) was led by IW Council 2003-2006; project launched December 2006.

·         An international Conference on ‘Landslides and Climate Change –Challenges and Solutions’ is being held in Ventnor in May 2007 (www.coastalwight.gov.uk/conference)

 

9.                  In addition to the Carbon Management Plan, the Council is now considering how it can lead the Island towards a low carbon future. It will look at how it can embed carbon management across all its services – planning decisions, highways policies, new construction, procurement, working practices etc – and encourage the rest of the Island community to follow suit. Initially, it will work with the largest employers on the Island to set targets for carbon reduction from their own activities and to commit to delivering these. Then, it will encourage the wider community to participate, recognising that reducing energy consumption benefits the economy as well as the environment and that more energy efficient homes provide financial benefits to householders and help to reduce fuel poverty.

 

10.             Taking account of the progress made, it is recommended that the Council now signs the ‘Nottingham Declaration’.

                       

STRATEGIC CONTEXT

 

11.             The Isle of Wight Council is playing a key role in developing a range of responses to climate change across various departments, but it is important to recognise that the success of such initiatives can only be achieved through the active involvement of all sectors of the community, including businesses and local residents. 

 

12.             The emerging Sustainable Community Strategy and Isle of Wight Economic Strategy recognise the benefits of a low carbon economy.

 

13.             The Council identified the aspiration of signing up to the ‘Nottingham Declaration’ in it’s ‘Aim High’ strategy document and, furthermore, addressing climate change forms a vital component in a number of important policy documents, including the Island Plan, IW Coast Shoreline Management Plan, IW Catchment Flood Management Plan and a number of Coastal Defence Strategy Studies. 

 

14.             In view of the rapid escalation in interest and awareness in climate change issues, it is anticipated that further advice will be provided by the Government and the Local Government Association to assist Local Authorities in developing and implementing appropriate policies.  In relation to the physical aspects of climate change the Council is already playing a significant role at international, national, regional and local levels.

 

CONSULTATION

 

15.             As a result of almost daily coverage of climate change issues by the media there has been a significant increase in interest and awareness from the general public, and concerns about what the impacts may mean for areas such as the Isle of Wight. 

 

16.             The IW Centre for the Coastal Environment has, for some time, been disseminating information through a series of illustrated lectures, through its website and through the Coastal Visitor’ Centre, providing targeted information at a range of academic and technical levels.  In particular, efforts have been made to assist those who are not specialists in the field, and publications such as ‘A non-technical guide to coastal defence’ (2004), DVDs about the Isle of Wight coastline and climate change, and more recently the non-technical information and DVD published by the RESPONSE Project, have all assisted in raising interest and awareness.  Furthermore, a series of presentations have been made by the Coastal Manager and his colleagues on this topic, commencing with the presentation made to Full Council in December 2005 on ‘Managing coastal risks in the context of climate change’. 

 

17.             To consult with other specialists and to disseminate the results of the RESPONSE project, a four-day Conference is being held in Ventnor in May 2007 where experts from across the world will be debating the issue of ‘Climate change and landslides – challenges and solutions’. 

 

18.             Officers have also made presentations to local interest groups, in line with the recommendations of the ‘Nottingham Declaration’.  An ongoing programme will be set out in an Action Plan.  The Coastal Manager made a detailed presentation to a meeting of ‘All change for climate change’ on 18 April which was well received. 

 

FINANCIAL/BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

 

19.             The impacts of climate change in financial terms are difficult to establish at this stage.  In terms of some of the most obvious impacts, for example around the coastline, it is anticipated that funding will continue to be available from the government for addressing coast protection needs as in the past.  It is uncertain at this stage whether there will be any additional Government funding to assist Local Authorities in achieving the national targets that are being set towards reduction of the impacts of climate change.  Furthermore, the process of adaptation and mitigation is a shared one, which will also involve businesses and the local community (e.g. homeowners). 

 

20.             In developing an Action Plan, which it is anticipated can be completed by the autumn; further information on any possible financial implications for the Council will be considered across departments.  This will be the subject of a further report later in the year; any new financial implications will be considered for 2008/09 financial year together with the opportunities to seek European funding in support of climate change initiatives. 

 

21.             The Council’s recently completed Carbon Management Plan demonstrates that projects delivering carbon reductions of 4% p.a. will also deliver financial savings of £2.56m over the next 5 years from an initial Council investment of £200,000.

 

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS

 

22.             The ‘Nottingham Declaration’ comprises a commitment by the Council to undertake various tasks which will assist in reducing the impacts of climate change; the Declaration is not a contract or legal document in any sense. 

 

23.             In relation to the execution of its various functions, the Council, as a Coast Protection Authority, has powers to carry out works under the Coast Protection Act 1949.  The Council also has powers under the Local Government Act 1972 to carry out any such works necessary to safeguard the wellbeing of people within its area.

 

OPTIONS

 

24.             1.         To sign the ‘Nottingham Declaration’.

 

2.         Not to sign the Declaration.  However, the Council is making significant progress in terms of addressing climate change issues, and in some areas is playing a leading role in this country.  The physical location of the Isle of Wight and its geological and coastal factors mean that it is likely to be particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, and therefore signing up to the ‘Nottingham Declaration’ is strongly recommended to help provide a coordinated response.

 

EVALUATION/RISK MANAGEMENT

 

25.             The most serious risks relating to climate change are the physical ones of erosion, landslip and flooding.  The Council is already playing a leading role in these fields and is working closely with the Environment Agency which is the lead organisation with responsibility for flood risk management.   Alongside the steady rise in temperature, an area of particular concern is rising sea levels (predicted at one metre by the year 2100), and the increased in winter rainfall.  The number of major cliff falls and landslides has increased considerably over the last 20 years, a pattern found elsewhere along the south coast of England.  Coastal risk management policies have now been developed for the whole of the Isle of Wight’s coastline. 

 

26.             Failure to implement the Council’s Carbon Management Plan as an integral part of the Nottingham Declaration would lose the opportunity of significant financial savings resulting from a reduction in energy consumption.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

27.             Following completion of the LIFE project RESPONSE and progress with a range of initiatives across Council departments, it is recommended that the Council sign the ‘Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change’.

 

BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

28.             The ‘Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change’ – The Energy Saving Trust http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/housingbuildings/localauthorities/NottinghamDeclaration/

 

29.             ‘RESPONSE’ – Responding to the risks from climate change, Final Report of the EU LIFE-Environment Project (www.coastalwight.gov.uk/response).  McInnes, R.G., Jakeways, J. and Fairbank, H., IW Centre for the Coastal Environment, 2006.

 

30.             International Conference on ‘Landslides and Climate Change – Challenges and Solutions’ – Proceedings of the International Conference at Ventnor, May 2007 (in press, Balkema).

 

APPENDICES

 

Appendix 1: Nottingham Declaration Charter

 

Contact Point:      Dr. Robin McInnes OBE, Coastal Manager, 01983 857220, robin.mcinnes@iow.gov.uk.

 

 

JOE DUCKWORTH

Chief Executive

CLLR TIM HUNTER-HENDERSON

Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport