To consider the report of the Exeter City Futures Programme Director.
The Programme Director, Exeter City Futures (ECF) provided an update on the progress made on the recommendations and activities that would support Exeter’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. The 12 goals of Exeter City Futures would provide a blueprint for change, but there were many challenges to overcome, including financial, political and behavioural. It was important that the public embraced and understood the need for and sustaining change, up to and beyond 2030. A further update on the work by the team included the launch of the Exeter Key Facts document, which was circulated to all Members. The document contained publicly available information, which was referenced from validated sources and she hoped that it would increase a culture of data collation and sharing across the city. She was also pleased to report that they had attracted £250,000 of national lottery funding over the next three years to support Exeter City Futures engagement with residents and business for projects to address local need.
Other forthcoming work included:-
· the launch of a dedicated microsite www.netzeroexeter.co.uk, which would include details of a planned Net Zero Summit to be held in the city on 26 March.
· a programme of public engagement with Encounters, an arts based organisation, to be held with community builders across the city
· three targeted workshops, inviting political, business and community leaders to consider the challenge and barriers for delivering the blueprint for change. Their deliberations, as well as the outcomes of the public engagement, would also help to inform the summit taking place on 26 March.
· The learnings from all these activities will be collated into the net-zero Exeter roadmap to be delivered to the Chief Executive & Growth Director at the end of March.
The Chief Executive & Growth Director provided a response to a number of Members’ questions and the challenges and commitment of reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 with increasingly limited resources. It was important to work out the costs associated with the Roadmap, and issues associated with the local delivery pilot, understanding behavioural issues and the economic opportunities.
The Portfolio Holder Climate and Culture responded to a Member’s comment on the greening of the city and would raise a particular issue of trees planted at the Newcourt development with planning officers. Over 24% of the city had tree cover and opportunities to plant more were always encouraged. She made the following observation and remarked that robust data was needed to be able to plot and track the journey forward. The political commitment was within her portfolio and despite the constraints on the Council, she would make every effort to progress this within Council’s available resources. She welcomed the involvement of Encounters. The Programme Director (ECF) would also involve her colleagues to stress the importance of ensuring that a statement of intent or engagement was developed. She also referred to the importance of engagement and acknowledged there was a proportion of people who were very committed and were very active in their efforts. The forthcoming Summit in March would help to ensure that everyone had an understanding of the scale and scope of the challenge.
The Programme Director (ECF) responded to a Member, who sought clarification on Exeter City Futures work in a letter from a member of the public. It was noted there was a formal mechanism to ask questions of their Scrutiny Committee, however, the Programme Director (ECF) clarified the following, that the subheadings in her report were recommendations for the work ahead; the engagement work to date and reports were on the Exeter City Futures web site; the framework duties would be structured under the 12 goals of Exeter City Futures, and the forthcoming Summit would be open to all and every effort would be made to ensure that the information was shared on the web site.
Members commented on financial inequality and ensuring social justice. A Member referred to a request agreed at a previous Council meeting to ensure that recognition of the sustainable climate agenda was included in the Council’s governance report structure. The Director (BA) stated that this had been included in the report template and would be rolled out in the next Committee cycle.
Members noted the progress that was being made on bringing forward the Carbon Neutral Exeter 2030 Roadmap, and extended a further invitation to the Exeter City Futures Programme Director to provide regular updates of progress, as appropriate, at the Strategic Scrutiny Committee meeting.