WFOE comments and questions regarding WESS update

Here are the WFOE comments and questions regarding the Report by the Chief Executive on the action taken to deliver the Wandsworth Environment and Sustainability Strategy (WESS) Action Plan, which goes before the Wandsworth Council Finance and Corporate Resources Committee on July 2

P2: Schedule (Background: item 4)

Medium term targets:

Council: carbon neutral by 2030 – Carbon neutral is a confusing term

Council: zero carbon by 2050

Greenest inner-London council by 2030

Where is overall road map with major milestones to meet these goals over years to come?

What does third goal actually mean?

Why does the council itself need 30 years to become zero carbon?

P4: LED street lighting may be lower energy than the old sodium lighting, but it is much brighter. I believe dimming of lamps through part of the night time darkness is possible?

P4 : Why are good active travel improvements considered temporary?

P7: The quoted reduction percentage is incorrect, it should be :

[(2017-18 – 2018-19)/2017-18]x100 which would be just below 8%

P9: Regarding Scope 3 Emissions (i.e. from contractors and suppliers) it should be possible to introduce CO2 limiting clauses into specifications and RFPs and require ISO 14001 Environmental Management compliance. Will WBC be more active?

P10 “Given the stage the Council is at with the development of its Local Plan, there is an opportunity to ensure that Wandsworth introduces new and more stringent requirements on climate and sustainability related planning policies.”

This statement is followed up with a with a focus on carbon offsetting. While it is acknowledged that there has to be some kind of condition penalty attached to permissions that do not adhere to environmental planning policies, carbon offsetting is generally recognised as a poor environmental response. It is generally recognised that carbon offset practices are things which should be done anyway irrespective of offsetting other carbon indulgences. The council should seek high environmental performance in the developments it approves and not let developers off the hook with carbon offsetting except where there is no other option. The emphasis should be on good environmental practice rather than carbon offsetting. Can we be apprised of the reasons why a developer might be allowed a carbon offset approach?

There is only vague mention here of other planning policies which would seek to reduce the carbon footprint of new developments in the borough. Are there any?

P11 : The WESS document rightly points out that we have experienced both the radical behavioural and industrial/transportation response and the significant impact of COVID-19 on carbon emissions, but even so necessary targets required to hold to the

Paris agreement to restrain global temperature increases below 1.5ºc will not be reached. This only goes to emphasise the scope & extent of activity change that is necessary to achieve targets. To what extent are the provisions of the WESS in line with requirements to adhere to the Paris commitment?

P13: Others will no doubt comment on the air quality section, so I will only point out that it does appear from the document that monitoring the various pollutants seems to be considered sufficient, rather than addressing the primary cause of pollution, which is fossil fuel use by traffic. While it is important and commendable to encourage “active” travel there does need to be some kind of restraint exercised on the use of fossil fuel vehicles in urban streets. Will the council be introducing any measures to curb the use of fossil fuelled vehicles?

The WESS points out that “many of the measures introduced under the transport action plan should be considered for implementation of a permanent basis.” How will this be dealt with?

Action Plan Schedules:

Section One: Getting our own house in order: It is acknowledged that many practical and on-site activities will have been held up by the COVID-19 lockdown, the overall approach in this section seems to be one of encouraging staff awareness, comparison with other boroughs and measurement rather than obvious action. There are no specific proposals to improve the insulation and airtightness of council properties or reduce their energy use. Are there any measures in hand?

A more environmentally proactive procurement strategy would be appropriate and, bearing in mind that we are talking about a crisis, constant reference to ‘cost and practicality’ seems inappropriate. There should be a sense of imperative irrespective of cost provisos, which waters down intent. What is the view of councillors?

It is hard to understand why pension fund divestment seems so convoluted?

SECTION TWO – Reducing the borough’s emissions and preparing for climate change:

What is the ongoing proposal for tree planting beyond that already achieved, over coming months and years?

No mention of street planting maintenance. What provisions does the borough have in hand?

There is no mention of the Councils approach to the use of pesticides and herbicides in maintaining outdoor spaces. The council should seek to restrict and curtail their use. What provisions are in hand?

What specific proposals are there for the management and care of mature and ancient trees?

Minimal propositions regarding application of environmental standards in planning policies in Local Plan are incorporated in the WESS. Specifics about embodied energy and energy in use as well as application of BREEAM should be identified. Other aspects such as the provision for recycling in apartment blocks etc. How are these and similar environmental issues being taken into account in the development of the Local Plan?

Communication and Engagement – We need to progress communications plans and proposed community event as a matter of urgency please. 

Plans for involvement of local groups in the proposals for communication and engagement seem to have got left behind. There is no reason why engagement couldn’t be “virtual” during the continuing COVID-19 lockdown. Is there a forum for continuing public engagement with the developing WESS?

It would be good to know more about WBC engagement in lobbying central government?

The document as a whole:

The document is not a simple one for the layperson to navigate. More section headings would be very helpful as would a simpler matrix, perhaps with the following headings:

Buildings

Open space & green infrastructure

Rivers & open water

Streets

Vehicles & traffic

Energy

Is it possible to reconfigure future versions of the document to make it easier to understand?

Marked up copy of the WESS update

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