Questions from the Public

Executive 31 October 2019

Is this Council aware of UNISON’s “Divest from Carbon” campaign that aims to “help UNISON members understand the risk climate change poses to their savings” - and also of the warnings of the Governor of the Bank of England about the financial risks of investing in fossil fuel industries?

The Council is aware of the UNISON campaign and the advice from the Governor of the Bank of England. Our emerging Action Plan includes a theme on ‘Individual and Collective Action’ and it is envisaged that campaigns and advice such as those detailed above will be considered as part of this theme.

Supplementary Question: Did this Council choose to join the Devon County Council pension scheme and does it have the power to leave?

South Hams District Council is a scheduled employer within the Local Government Pension Scheme as set out in Schedule 2 Part 1 of the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2013. Under those regulations, Schedule 3 Part 2 sets out that the appropriate administering authority for a scheduled employer is the local government area of the administering authority in which the employer is situated, in this case Devon County Council. The Council does not have a choice over the Administering Authority (Devon County Council) and the Council does not have the power to leave the Administering Authority as a scheduled employer within the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Has a date been set for reviewing the Council’s Procurement Policy to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of purchases?

A sustainable procurement policy has just been drafted and will be initially reviewed by the Climate Change and Biodiversity Member Working Group with a view to adoption by the Council in the coming months. A specific date has not yet been set.

Does SHDC support the LGA’s request to the Government to create a joint national task force comprising local leaders and relevant government departments to determine funding, legislation and policy changes needed to deliver zero net carbon emissions by 2030?

Will such proposed changes be recommended in your Climate Action Plan?

The Council recognises the challenges that the Climate Change Emergency creates and that funding, legislation and policy changes will be key in tackling those challenges. Therefore, in principle, the Council supports the proposal put forward by the LGA. A key part on the emerging action plan will relate to how the Council, and its partners, can influence and lobby to secure funding and appropriate changes in legislation and policy at a national level.

Supplementary Question: Does this Council have a record of recent changes in government funding, laws and planning policies that have undermined its powers to deliver renewable energy projects and sustainable housing?

The Council does not keep a specific record of changes. There are a broad range of factors that influence the Councils ability to deliver (or give permission and/or support to) renewable energy projects and sustainable housing. These include, for example, the overall financial settlement that the Council receives alongside specific changes to feed in tariffs and planning policy on wind turbines. The Council has to work within a legislative framework, however, the emerging Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency Action Plan is likely to include proposals to lobby Government on changes to policy/legislation to support future actions.

The incineration of grey bin waste is a major source of local carbon emissions. What policies are being considered in the Climate Action Plan for working with residents and retailers to reduce the overall volume and carbon footprint of waste at source and to increase reuse and repair of goods?

The emerging action plan includes a theme on ‘Waste and Resources’ under which a range of initiatives will be considered including reducing waste at source. In addition the theme on ‘Greening the economy’ will influence this area. It is important to stress that the ‘Devon Carbon Plan’ being developed by the Net-zero Task force will lead on the strategic approach to waste challenges across the County. There is at present a ‘call for evidence’ which can be accessed through the following link