This report was due to be discussed at today’s meeting of the Sustainability and Transport Scrutiny Committee but the meeting was cancelled. It is likely that the forthcoming Taskforce meetings will also be cancelled. The coronavirus emergency is preventing many Climate Emergency activities but it mustn’t stop the campaign. We need to continue the debate online, starting with what in this report should be implemented and what alternative and additional policies are needed where necessary.
Climate Emergency – Update Report
Report to Sustainability and Transport Scrutiny Committee 18 March 2020
1.1 This paper presents an update on progress made on the Council’s work to respond to the climate emergency since December 2019.
2. R20 Taskforce
2.1 Mini workshops were held during Taskforce meetings in December 2019 and January 2020 to begin to explore potential carbon reduction interventions. The sessions focussed on the six internal review areas (housing, energy, transport, waste, green and blue infrastructure, and developing the green economy) and were facilitated by the leads (or a representative) of each work stream.
2.2 These sessions marked the start of R20 action-planning discussions with the Taskforce. Discussions fed into the service area reviews as well as shape the thinking for the policy development sandpits (section 3).
2.3 Taskforce members have been invited to convene community engagement events in spring which the Council will provide financial support for. This will enable the testing of potential recommendations with citizens and will help to shape the final report to Full Council in June 2020.
2.4 The initial suggestion was made to hold a Birmingham citizen assembly in March. This has been reviewed and the revised proposal is to hold an assembly in June/July, once the action plan has been developed.
3. Policy development sandpits
3.1 As part of the R20 work, policy development sandpits are due to be held on key themes during March and April. These are being led by officers and partners, and themes include: housing; transport; planning; education, skills and employment pathways; East Birmingham and North Solihull; and, engagement.
3.2 The overarching purpose of these sessions is to provide Taskforce members, officers, subject matter experts, and key partners and stakeholders with the opportunity to share knowledge and understanding of what we already know, how that helps us on the R20 journey, and what else we need to explore.
3.3 The sandpits will be a crucial part of the R20 action planning process and will be underpinned by the requirement for whole system change, enabling us to fully explore and harness regional and national opportunities. The outcomes of these sessions will help to shape the June report.
3.4 The following sandpits have been arranged:
3.5 Housing – to identify what can be done in both new and existing homes to help us achieve net zero carbon by 2030.
3.6 The aims of the housing session are:
- To map out the milestones we need to reach in order to progress towards zero carbon
- To consider actions to be taken locally, regionally and nationally to deliver zero carbon
- To identify plausible regulatory changes that could deliver net zero carbon
- To identify what we need to lobby Government for to deliver net zero carbon
- To identify best practice that demonstrates what is achievable; and identify how to break down the barriers to rolling these out.
- To identify the measures that we need to put in place to deliver net zero carbon, the potential carbon savings of these measures and the lead-in times to deliver them.
Planning – to identify what planning can do to help us achieve net zero carbon by 2030.
- The aims of the planning session are:
- To identify the planning barriers facing us in achieving net zero carbon
- To identify plausible regulatory changes that could deliver net zero carbon To identify what we need to lobby Government for to deliver net zero carbon.
- To identify what best practice examples that demonstrate what can be achieved; and to identify the barriers preventing these examples being rolled out more widely and how we might break down those barriers.
- To identify the measures that we need to put in place to deliver net zero carbon, the potential carbon savings of these measures and the lead-in times to deliver them.
Transport – to bring forward ideas about how stakeholders across the city can work together and align our efforts to reduce emissions from transport in Birmingham and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
Sessions for education, engagement and a visit to East Birmingham and North Solihull are being progressed.
4. Technical study
4.1 In January 2020 Anthesis was commissioned to undertake a technical study to support the development of the action plan. This work is being undertaken in two stages.
4.2 Stage 1 (baselining) will calculate a new carbon footprint for the city and will model the required emissions trajectory in order to meet the city’s 2030 ambition for net zero carbon.
4.3 Stage 2 (scenario modelling and impact and viability assessments) will identify and explore potential carbon reduction interventions, including understanding the relative socio-economic impacts and viability of these potential interventions.
4.4 Stakeholder meetings were held in February with Anthesis and leads from the Council’s service area reviews. Anthesis also met with officers from planning as well as the University of Birmingham – this meeting particularly focussed on Tyseley Energy Park.
4.5 Anthesis’ reports are expected in mid to late March. The findings from this study will inform the proposed approach for reducing the city’s carbon emissions and will be used for further explorative work with communities.
5. Communications and engagement
5.1 We are taking a phased and blended approach to communications and engagement which correlates with the stages of the R20 project timeline. During January to February we ran a Climate Emergency Citizen Survey aimed at the general public (which received 1395 responses in total) and commissioned focus groups with harder to engage groups.
5.2 This activity sought to understand people’s perceptions of the climate crisis, barriers individuals face to making positive changes, and ideas for how all parts of society can play their part.
5.3 Analysis from the survey is due in late March and the report from the focus groups is due in mid-March.
5.4 Council-led communications and engagement activity on the climate emergency is happening in parallel with engagement activity being delivered by Taskforce members and others.
5.5 Findings from these different strands will enable us to develop an informed understanding of how to engage with the city’s different communities and stakeholders and what will help drive the necessary wide-spread behaviour and cultural shifts across the city and deliver the R20 just transition.
5.6 Upon completion of the report in June 2020, a broader and more intensive programme of communications and engagement will be necessary. A communications and engagement subgroup, comprising members of the Taskforce and representatives from key partners, was established in January.
5.7 The group’s role is to explore and make recommendations on effective and influential city-wide communications and engagement on the climate emergency post-June, ensuring there is a coherent and coordinated approach with partners and others across the city and region.
6. The Council’s early commitments
6.1 The climate crisis is a multifaceted and cross-cutting issue which requires an organisation and city-wide response. One of the key challenges is how to effectively facilitate and drive change in Council governance and process to ensure that the challenge is shared across all directorates. How to address this challenge will be a salient feature in the June report.
6.2 At Full Council on 4 February 2020, in advance of the June report, some early commitments were made for actions that will contribute to the delivery of the 2030 ambition.
6.3 These early commitments have arisen out of the six service area reviews and from other services across the Council. They present a good starting point for how all areas of the Council can contribute to the R20 journey.
6.4 The early commitments, as well as progress updates where applicable, are presented in the table below. Further detail is included (where applicable) in appendix 1.
|1||Undertake awareness campaigns
targeting the highest polluting trips and users to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint from transport (for example, increasing awareness of
|2020-21||Communicating the scale of change that is required through the Birmingham transport Plan consultation.|
|people’s travel choices and promoting behavioural change)|
|2||Explore additional policy measures, such as the evaluation of transport interventions and the creation of a carbon fund||2020-21||In progress|
|3||The Council to lead by example in adopting and supporting low-carbon transport practices (for example, awareness raising campaigns with staff and reducing business mileage)||2020 onwards||In progress|
|Green and Blue Infrastructure|
|4||Undertake a feasibility study looking at early interventions to enhance the Cole
Valley Corridor, including Glebe Farm
|2020||The city’s Landscape Practice Group (LPG) have been commissioned to undertake a study at the feasibility of delivering some of the interventions identified in the Cole Valley Vision Plan, particularly those capital works around Glebe Farm Recreation Ground.
Investigations into improving path networks and links will be explored along with features to encourage the local community to engage with the local resource. Improved cycleway signage is due to be delivered this year as part of LPG’s commissioned works and potential for solar way marking of the cycle route will be investigated.
|5||Improve information and data on webpages||2020||Discussions on what information needs to be presented are underway. Some information has been collated as part of the production of the draft design guide; however, with the exit from the EU and the Environment Bill still progressing through Government, there is a need to consider what legislative changes are due to come into force, such as the mandating of Biodiversity Net Gain, which would need to be
reflected in any published documentation.
|6||Nature Recovery Network/Natural
Capital Mapping to support effective mitigation and enhancement measures
|2020||Exploratory work is being undertaken in conjunction with EcoRecord (the biological records service for B&BC) as part of the Future Parks Accelerator project on pilot sites. Some learning has been obtained from the Natural England GI pilot as part of the Black Country Review and work undertaken on the B&BC Nature|
|7||Urban Forest Management Policy – update technical note||2020||Much of the groundwork has been undertaken for this update of the existing management policy starting with the Tree Policy review in late 2017 early 2018.|
|8||Biochar investigation to consider the capture of carbon through the pyrolytic conversion of timber||2020||Meeting held to discuss the emerging tree policies and desire for increase of tree Canopy Cover and how this links to the potential production of Biochar from wood waste for use as a soil ameliorant and a way of locking carbon into the ground.
Further conversation has been had with Bloomberg
Philanthropies and Ecotopic (Stockholm based operators and demonstrator) to progress the potential for a Birmingham based trial as well as discussions with representatives from the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) based at Aston University Campus.
|9||Support other service areas in their delivery of R20 – particularly around transport and housing||2020||Support is being given to other service areas around their commitments to R20, the Biochar investigation feeds directly into the Energy strands plus could tie in with housing as part of a district heat network. Ongoing as part of day to day works although as other projects develop officer time my come under pressure.|
|10||Deliver training/awareness sessions to other service areas on broad green and blue infrastructure, biodiversity, and sustainability topics||2020||Yet to commence as a key topic will be the government’s requirements for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG).|
|11||Collaborate with partners to secure funding and deliver projects that contribute to overall R20 aims (for example, a Sky Park (a green walking route on the elevated, disused section of the viaduct running through Digbeth) and improvements to the River Rea to enhance the green corridor in the city centre)||2020 onwards||Initial work with Canals and
Rivers Trust has commenced to identify suitable interventions that
can be put forward for implementation as part of the wider Digbeth regeneration. Proposals include improvements to the accessibility of the canal network towpaths (infrastructure and signage) and biodiversity enhancements.
|12||Commence the Heat Decarbonisation Delivery Plan (developed with BEIS)||2020||Work commenced January 2020.
The initial stage (January to July
2020) of data collation, stakeholder engagement and initial modelling is underway. This first phase will identify
|opportunities for heat decarbonisation with specific interventions provided through the Council’s housing development and retrofit of existing stock; waste management opportunities and planning policy role.|
|13||The Council’s Energy Strategy||2020 onwards||The Council’s Energy Strategy is currently being developed – focussing on key actions that the Council has within its authority, scope of role and service delivery responsibilities.|
|14||Undertake a procurement review of energy supply to Council buildings||2020-23||Work is underway to review what energy supply contracts the Council has and implications of transition to renewable energy tariffs. This will be followed by alignment with contract renewal specification development.|
|15||Develop a renewable energy electric charge point network||2020-22
|Procurement of EV Development Partner has been completed. Current stage is contract finalisation by end of March 2020, leading a concentrated two-year EV charge point deployment of
197 OLEV funded chargers (up to 394 charge points) across the city. The OLEV funding prioritises taxi vehicles, but the charge points will be publicly accessible, giving time to further develop the network for a wider publicly accessible charge point network from the end of year 2 to year 12, as part of an emerging charge point strategy.
|16||Initiate a Passivhaus (zero carbon house) pilot||2020-21||A review of the current BMHT build programme has seen 3 sites selected to pilot Passivhaus development. A review of
Passivhaus delivery in other Local Authorities is underway, and identification of appropriate consultancy expertise to guide the development is in hand.
|17||Deliver a zero carbon retrofit conference exploring best practice and funding models||2020||Discussions have been held with a retrofit conference provider to explore the potential to run a conference in the West Midlands before the end of 2020.|
|18||Develop a database of advice and a Communications Plan for providing zero carbon retrofit information to home owners, landlords and residents||2020-21||Ongoing – Draft documents under review to include actions and direction arising from the R20 / Climate Change Taskforce and legislative changes.
|Developing the Green Economy|
|19||Commence a governance review with stakeholders to maximise the value of and investment in the Tyseley
Environmental Enterprise District and the wider area
|2020||Chaired thematic workshop involving Members and various Taskforce members related to the development of the Green Economy.
As thematic lead met with consultants from Anthesis setting out our current and future carbon reduction initiatives, key barriers and the need for radical steps to achieve zero carbon.
|20||Develop a clear business offer related to Tyseley Energy Park to attract SME’s and capital investment into the area||2020||Discussions to develop a clear business offer related to Tyseley Energy Park are planned to take place in March 2020. The offer will be designed to attract SMEs and capital investment into the area.|
|21||Deliver the CAZ Heavy Duty Vehicle Fund to support SME’s to purchase and/or lease new compliant vehicles or retrofit non-compliant vehicles to achieve Euro 6 compliance and improve air quality||2020-23||Clean Air Zone – implementation of £10m Heavy Duty Vehicle
(HDV) Fund was approved by Cabinet on 11 February 2020. Fund designed to support SMEs to purchase and/or lease new compliant vehicles/retrofit noncompliant vehicles to achieve compliance and improve air quality due to be launched 1 April 2020.
|22||Undertake a detailed baseline study – including a market overview and identifying challenges, gaps in provision, and opportunities||2020||Initial baseline of the green economy has been undertaken.|
|23||Review and strengthen planning conditions relating to green and blue infrastructure||2020||Yet to commence but will form part of the wider review of the BDP and associated polices plus implementation of any new legislation arising from the Environment Bill.|
|24||Review, strengthen and expand design guide information relating to green and blue infrastructure, and links to low carbon, sustainability and biodiversity, low and zero carbon energy and
|2020||The Planning Sandpit event will consider what is needed in this area.|
|25||Commence a review of the Big City Plan||2020||Work due to commence in Spring 2020.|
|Procurement and Contract Management|
|26||Commence a Council-wide Procurement and Contract Management strategy review (for new and existing contracts) to explore alignment with R20 principles||2020-21||The commencement of the
Council wide Procurement and Contract Management Strategy review is subject to the publishing of the PWC review of
Procurement across the Authority that is expected in March.
Some measures to aid the R20 carbon reduction agenda are already built into the Council’s Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility and these are also due to be reviewed in 20/21 Q1.
Other measures (e.g. engaging suppliers to determine/cost out CO2 reduction interventions) can be developed subject to the Council’s baseline position being established and shared to determine specific priority areas and any related budget provision. To this end, Anthesis have been provided links to published procurement spend data which they have asked for in order to calculate the Council’s carbon footprint.
|27||Undertake a governance review to explore embedding environmental and sustainability principles in the Council’s decision-making process (for example, through environmental/climate impact assessments and appraisals)||2020||In progress|
|28||Exploring opportunities to reduce workforce carbon emissions through changes in working practices (for example, through agile working and the use of technology to reduce the need to travel)||2020-21|
7. Next steps
- December 2019 to March 2020 – phase 1 communications and engagement
- December 2019 to March/April 2020 – service area reviews
- January to March 2020 – consultancy support to complete the baseline, scenario modelling, and impact and viability assessments
- January to May 2020 – R20 communications and engagement subgroup to develop recommendations for city-wide communications and engagement post-June
- March to April/May 2020 – policy development sandpits
- April 2020 – Taskforce-led engagement sessions
- June 2020 – report and action plan to Full Council
Appendix 1 – The Council’s early commitments: supplementary information
1.1 Reducing the impact of transport at the scale required by the climate emergency is a significant challenge. Surface transport is now the sector with the highest carbon impact in the UK and one of the few that have seen an increase in emissions in the last few years.
1.2 The largest share of emissions from surface transport comes from automobility which, aside from being a significant part of the economy, is deeply embedded in people’s lives due to land use development patterns and cultural and status expectations.
1.3 Transport’s carbon footprint in Birmingham follows the national trends and automobility has a strong history in the West Midlands. Four paths are proposed through which carbon emissions reductions from transport can be achieved in the short to medium term. These are:
- The proposed draft Birmingham Transport Plan (Appendix 5)
- Awareness campaigns targeting the highest polluting trips and users
- Exploring additional policy measures
- Leading by example
The draft Birmingham Transport Plan (BTP)
1.4 The BTP sets out four proposed big moves that will transform transport in the city until 2031 and beyond. The big moves are:
- Reallocating road space away from cars
- Transforming the city centre
- Prioritising active travel in local neighbourhoods
- Managing travel demand through parking measures
- The ambition of the BTP has been supported by the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency. The plan sets out a vision for a sustainable, green, inclusive, go-anywhere transport network. Therefore, adopting the BTP in the next 12 months will mean that Birmingham will have a clear blueprint that supports sustainable transport policies and measures until 2031 and beyond.
- The BTP forms a basis on which a range of ambitious sustainable transport measures can be promoted and supported in the future, such as introducing a Workplace Parking Levy and transforming the A38 through the city centre.
- Some of these were discussed with the public during the Taskforce transport workshop in December 2019 and include:
- Safer cycle parking in the city centre and near key destinations (hospitals, universities, etc.).
- Simple pricing system for public transport.
- Supporting electric car clubs
- Expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- Extend car-free school streets
- Further pedestrianisation across the city
- Current financial resources and available staff are already dedicated to existing commitments, especially infrastructure delivery commitments ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2022. In addition, the city itself is expected to undergo changes of unprecedented scale and pace in the next few years, causing sustained disruption for residents and requiring careful delivery planning to avoid significantly impacting existing trips. As such, further action is limited by the constrained means, time and space to deliver it. Any further commitment will require additional financial resources and staff capacity.
- The BTP is out to public consultation from January to March 2020.
Awareness campaigns targeting the highest polluting trips and users
1.10 We acknowledge that transport accounts for a significant part of the carbon emissions and action cannot be postponed in the face of the climate crisis. As such, we recommend a series of actions that will target trips and users who have the biggest carbon footprint.
1.11 These actions are behavioural and policy measures for which implementation can begin in the next 12 months but are expected to deliver a long-term reduction in carbon emissions.
1.12 Responding to the climate emergency requires a dramatic change in people’s consumption patterns and lifestyle choices. It is expected that many measures that are specifically targeting the climate emergency will require strong political backing as they may be initially considered controversial both in terms of public acceptance and additional accountability for the Council.
1.13 Targeted action is focused on two areas:
- Unsustainable travel practices
- Highest polluters
- The action could initially involve information and awareness communications, which can form part of the communications materials of the wider R20 work or, if additional funding becomes available, a standalone campaign. Existing information streams, such as social media, can also be used. Information can also be provided in the form of blogposts or testimonials demonstrating positive climate action.
Unsustainable travel practices
- These are especially related to car use but also consumer choices such as next day/hour deliveries or deliveries carried out by small vans or cars. A campaign can also make citizens more conscious of their travel patterns.
We propose three primary focus areas:
- Information about the impact of short trips by car: 65% of trips are less than 5 miles. Messages could include: live locally, shop locally; ‘the 2 mile challenge’ where people are challenged to not drive if the distance travelled is less than 2 miles; ‘leave your car at home for a week challenge’. We are also planning to establish ‘car free days’ from 2020.
- Information about the impact of long trips by car: approximately 3% of trips account for 30% of surface miles travelled. Messages could promote ‘staycations’, i.e. travelling within UK for holiday by public transport; ‘take a day trip by public transport’; campaigns similar to ‘See Britain by rail’.
- Information about leisure trips by car: 51% of miles travelled by surface transport are for leisure purposes (if shopping is not included in leisure it is 40% of miles travelled). Messages could include: visit a friend by public transport etc.
- Although raising awareness is very important, it is also crucial to acknowledge that low-income groups are already low-carbon and locked into their travel choices (i.e. they have limited or no choice to switch to low(er) carbon alternatives). They are also the ones who will be most affected by impacts of global heating and the climate crisis.
- Globally, the richest 10% of the population emits 50% of carbon emissions while the poorest 50% emits 10% of all carbon emissions. WMCA’s Climate Action Plan 2041 published in January 2020 confirms these statistics for the region and highlights that emission reductions could be attributed to rising deprivation in certain areas.
- Therefore, it is key for information campaigns to target the highest polluters and those whose lifestyle choices are the most damaging to the planet. In the context of the city, the highest polluters would be primarily owners of multiple cars and especially SUVs, as well as old and vintage cars. Messages could include: comparing the carbon footprint of ‘typical’ families.
Exploring additional policy measures
1.20 Policy measures can be a further step in the Council’s efforts to identify and target the most polluting travel patterns and road users. During and beyond the next 12 months the Council could investigate the implementation of the following policy measures:
- We could get a better understanding of the operation of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Ola in the city. Many of the vehicles operating in the city are not registered with Birmingham. In collaboration with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the Department for Transport (DfT) we could investigate limits to the operations of such companies including: idling while waiting to be called, special emissions standards, or not allowing vehicles registered with another authority to both start and finish trips within Birmingham. Such policy measures would require coordinated action nationally and regionally as they have proven difficult to implement in other cities.
- Investigate the practicalities of creating a carbon fund which developers would contribute to. Contributions would be used to fund measures specifically targeted towards addressing the climate emergency.
- Introduce carbon monitoring and evaluation of transport interventions. Assess future policies and projects based on their forecast carbon emissions reduction impact.
- Investigate if the CAZ can be converted to a clean air and low carbon zone. It is unclear whether we have the power to do this but it could be investigated with the DfT. Currently, the CAZ restrictions are based on Euro vehicle standards which do not include carbon emissions. Therefore, the CAZ is indirectly supporting the climate emergency as newer cars tend to be cleaner and it is expected to lead to a modal shift for trips to the city centre but it is not directly targeting the climate emergency.
The Council to lead by example
1.21 The Council can become a leader in adopting and supporting low-carbon transport practices. For example:
- Internal information campaigns about the climate emergency to raise awareness among staff.
- Cut business mileage. For example, Salford City Council has cut grey fleet mileage by 95% and saved £400,000 and at least 478 tonnes of carbon emissions since introducing a green travel plan. Under the Green Wheels initiative, rather than Council staff using their own vehicles and claiming back business mileage costs, a pool of Co-wheels car club vehicles has been made available.
- Ensure that delivery and collection of goods is consolidated and carried out by environmentally friendly vehicles.
- Ensure that staff minimise car commuting to the absolute minimum. This can include revising parking permits for council staff.
- Adopt a minimum flying policy for domestic and international travel or substitute flights when travelling by train takes fewer than a certain number of hours (for example, that can be reached within fewer than 8 hours by train include: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Marseille, Lyon, Zurich, Dublin as well as all major cities within Great Britain). It is acknowledged that at the moment rail travel can be much more expensive than air travel so such a policy would need to be assessed on the basis of staff hourly rates, time, and cost to the public.
- No first/business class rail/air travel. First and business class areas take more space than regular seats thereby increasing the individual carbon footprint of passengers.
2. Green and Blue Infrastructure
Improve information and data on webpages
2.1 Making our information as accessible as possible (where this is not ecologically or commercially sensitive).
Nature Recovery Network/Natural Capital Mapping
2.2 Being able to identify those areas of the city that are biologically diverse and/or offer high levels of ecosystem services will enable better strategic decisions to be taken to ensure that these benefits are not compromised by inappropriate development. Whilst identifying those areas of lower biodiversity or ecosystem services delivery could, through the planning process, make gains either through development or allocation of S106/CIL funding for improvement works.
Urban Forest Management Policy – update technical note
2.3 To be completed as per the 2018 tree policy review recommendations, this will ensure that there are clear expectations for the sustainable management and ambitions targets for the expansion of the urban forest ensuring that we have a resilient resource fit to deal with the pressures of predicted climate trends and emerging pests and diseases whilst delivering essential ecosystem services.
2.4 Biochar is a stable carbon rich product created through the pyrolytic conversion of timber. Used in landscaping, agriculture and horticulture it can lock carbon in to the soil and at the same time increases the water retention properties, nutrient take up, mycorrhizal activity and resilience of plants growing with this medium. This would be an investigation into production and use within the city particularly within tree planting activities.
Support other service areas
2.5 Support other service areas in their delivery of R20 where this has an impact on green and blue infrastructure or benefits can be jointly delivered – particularly around transport and housing. Many sections of the council will be delivering projects that could directly benefit the city’s R20 aspirations. By our internal environmental professionals providing suitable advice and guidance multiple long term benefits could be delivered for green and blue infrastructure.
Deliver training/awareness sessions
2.6 Climate change adaptation and mitigation is complex as are the requirements for our native biodiversity. Providing training/awareness sessions for internal planning teams and other departments on broad green and blue infrastructure, biodiversity, and sustainability topics will allow those colleagues to gain a clearer understanding of this sphere of work which will help guide them when considering development and /or appropriate management of sites to deliver long term benefits.
Collaborate with partners
2.7 Work with partners to secure funding and deliver projects that contribute to overall R20 aims such as:
- Sky Park–New public realm on the elevated, disused section of viaduct running through Digbeth.
- River Rea through Southside – Breaking out the River Rea through the Southside development area offers a huge opportunity to deliver increased flood resilience to a significant sector of the city along with biodiversity gains.
Commence the Heat Decarbonisation Delivery Plan
3.1 In 2019 Birmingham was one of five cities selected to work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop a bespoke city-level Heat Decarbonisation Delivery Plan.
3.2 The first phase is being undertaken from January 2020 to June 2020. The purpose of this phase is to identify key opportunities for Birmingham to decarbonise heat for domestic dwellings and commercial properties. Interventions are anticipated to include discreet energy and transport related projects, city-wide policy measures and behaviour change at the individual and institutional/corporate levels, as well as wider regional/cross-local authority interventions.
3.3 The next phase (from June 2020) will flesh out potential opportunities, providing the assessment of funding sources, and timelines. This will happen alongside an agenda for action that clarifies the ‘asks’ from Government to assure the achievement of net zero carbon timelines for heat decarbonisation in terms of necessary and time critical regulatory change, funding incentives, national and local schemes for smart energy use and energy efficiencies.
3.4 This will maximise Government action to impact on carbon emission reductions and will also clarify the scale of the role of the Council and other local authorities in reducing emissions within net zero timelines. Critically, it will also identify what ‘energy’ is within scope for the Council in order to maximise carbon emissions reductions.
3.5 A first step will be to focus on the Council’s own housing stock and ongoing and future housing development plans to provide a leadership role as the UK’s second city but also to engage with and encourage behaviour change with private landlords and householders.
The Council’s Energy Strategy
3.6 Completion of an outline Energy Strategy for the Council – identifying ‘energy’ that is in scope for the Council to gain net zero impact from and get agreement on what is possible within the timescale and align with the recommendations of the Taskforce.
Procurement review of energy supply
3.7 Work is currently being undertaken with procurement colleagues to review scheduled contract renewals of energy supply to Council buildings to specify the supply of renewable energy only.
Develop a renewable energy electric charge point network
3.8 Work to develop a renewable energy electric charge point network in the city is due to start in early 2020. This will see 197 charge points installing within the first two years and a further 197 charge points installed across the city, enabling the transition from fossil fuel vehicles to zero emission electric vehicles.
3.9 This is key, given the complexities of the legal framework, to enable a city-scale charge point network deployment on the highway, public car parks, and on public land and will have a great level of impact on reducing carbon emissions at scale.
Initiate a Passivhaus (zero carbon house) pilot
4.1 One of the key early commitments for housing is to pilot Passivhaus (zero carbon houses) across the city and work on this is expected to develop at pace in 2020. The initial focus will be on identifying potential viable sites, conducting site visits elsewhere in the country to learn from good practice, and developing a detailed specification for the pilot.
4.2 A workshop will be convened on Passivhaus development principles and delivery to support this planned pilot and engage with existing examples of delivery locally.
Deliver a zero carbon retrofit conference
4.3 A conference on zero carbon retrofit will be planned to share good practice and consider how to make retrofit of existing homes a ‘bite size’ and manageable proposition for property owners. This will include discussion of possible financing models to fund investment.
5.1 Review and strengthen planning conditions relating to green and blue infrastructure
- Green/biodiverse roofs
- Green walls
- Sustainable Urban Drainage – Bioswales, Natural SUDS
- Biodiversity net gain
- Tree planting – canopy cover, planting pit design, species selection
- Tree conditions
- Offsetting/ payments – Biodiversity and Trees
5.2 Ensuring that our planning conditions are robust and fit for purpose will ensure the delivery of the required green and blue infrastructure. Strong conditions will also enable enforcement where these have not been actioned.
Review the design guide
5.3 Review, strengthen and expand design guide information relating to green and blue infrastructure and links to low carbon, sustainability, and biodiversity. The design guide will act as a Supplementary Planning Document and be used alongside the
Birmingham Development Plan and the Design Management- Design Policy Document.
5.4 This design guide will set out our expected standards clearly with a number of reference documents providing more in depth information that will help guide prospective developers during their design process.
Commence a review of the Big City Plan
5.5 The Big City Plan was published in 2010 and is due for revision. Work will commence on its revision. This will incorporate the new thinking around climate change and the infrastructure required to move the city to its net zero carbon target.
6. Procurement and Contract Management
6.1 The Council is currently reviewing its procurement and contract management approach and to assist with moving the city towards the 2030 ambition the following areas of focus will be included:
- Exploring how the 2030 ambition can be achieved within new contract requirements
- Reviewing existing contracts to understand providers’ plans to reduce emissions and determine how a carbon neutral approach can be achieved
- Understanding the financial impact of achieving a carbon neutral approach and factoring this into decision making processes
- Reviewing existing contract management arrangements to include KPIs required for performance reporting
 Although not directly within the Council’s remit, this could also involve information about the detrimental impacts of flying.
 As the UK leaves the EU it will copy EU’s new carbon emission standards (< 95g of CO2 per km) and, as a result, carmakers are expected to withdraw some highly polluting large vehicles from the UK market. The rise of SUVs in the UK was previously ‘offset’ by other countries’ preference for smaller vehicles but under UK-only standards this will no longer be possible. As such, adopting a strong stance towards SUVs may seem controversial at first but is expected to become widely acceptable in the medium term.