Committee set to scrutinise climate aims in West Sussex

A scrutiny committee is set to asses the county council's aim to adapt to climate change and become net carbon zero by 2030.

County Hall in Chichester
County Hall in Chichester

West Sussex County Council's Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee will look at the progress made since the County Council adopted its Climate Change Strategy in July 2019 and will scrutinise how the council plans to reduce its carbon emissions further and become more climate resilient at a meeting on January 11, 2021.

The meeting will hear how the council is looking closely at how changes introduced during the pandemic, such as working from home, and in particular reductions in staff travel, have influenced carbon consumption, to see how it can continue to reduce its footprint, while ensuring services are still delivered to residents.

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A WSCC spokesman said the council has already halved its carbon emissions since 2011.

In addition, carbon consumption for the first half of 2020/21 dropped by more than a quarter in April-June and almost a third in July-September compared to the previous year, largely due to changes in working practices brought about by Covid-19.

Committee chairman, Andrew Barrett-Miles, said: “Climate change and how we adapt to it is a serious issue and one which quite rightly underpins all of our future priorities as a council.

“Our role as a scrutiny committee is to ensure we are doing all we can to address these challenges and that our policies and plans are comprehensive and effective.”

The carbon management plan covers council buildings including most schools, fire stations and libraries, as well as things like powering streetlights and business travel.

The committee will hear initial results from the West Sussex Climate Conversation – a survey which looked at how the behaviour of residents has changed during the pandemic – for example shopping with local suppliers or exploring close to home - and how this has affected our local environment.

The committee will also examine proposals to integrate climate change into decision making to ensure all County Council decisions clearly highlight any climate change impacts.

Other measures to adapt to climate change being worked on include:

• Increasing the number and use of pool bikes and electric or other ultra-low emission vehicles in the council fleet.

• Securing external funding, match contributions, and private sector investment to deliver renewable energy projects.

• Supporting community groups and residents to lead on projects to enhance their local green spaces.

The committee will also look at the draft West Sussex Reset Plan and how priorities relevant to the environment and communities can be monitored to ensure the council is achieving its aims. The final Reset Plan is expected to be approved by the County Council in February 2021.

The meeting starts at 10.30am and can be followed online here.

Further information can be found in the agenda papers here.