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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 5, Guildhall, Swansea. View directions

Contact: Liz Jordan Scrutiny 01792 637314 

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosure of Personal and Prejudicial Interests

Minutes:

No interests declared.

2.

Renewable Energy Report pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Councillor Andrea Lewis – Cabinet Member for Housing and Energy

Nigel Williams – Head of Corporate Building Services

Terri Shaw – Energy Manager

Minutes:

Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Housing and Energy, Nigel Williams, Head of Corporate Building Services and Terri Shaw, Energy Manager attended.  They went through the report highlighting the main issues and answering questions.

 

A member of the public attended the meeting and asked a question about private housing developments.  Queried whether planning rules could be changed so that a standard efficiency rating had to be achieved which encompassed solar energy. Informed building regulations are devolved to Welsh Government and they are looking to increase standards in the future.  It was noted that a number of developers have already introduced a higher energy efficiency rating than they are required too. 

 

The following main issues were discussed:

 

·       Private house builders – issue around viability and deliverability as developers are in business to make a profit.  Positive that standards could be increased but this has to be looked at alongside the deliverability for developers.

·       Mentioned the Authority wants to lower its carbon impact.  Informed the Authority has had a carbon strategy for a number of years. How do we currently measure this?  There are guidelines in legislation every Authority has to follow and figures are worked out based on this.  Since 2010 Swansea has reduced its carbon footprint by 42% based on the requirements given.

·       Noted there is no direct reference to global warming in the report provided.  Working Group surprised at this as it is mentioned in the Corporate Plan and Wellbeing Plan and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.  It was acknowledged that this was an oversight.

·       Noted other strategies also impact on this, for example, the Authority’s agile working strategy.  Natural Resources Wales’ report on carbon reduction worth reading.

·       There is a danger of just waiting for outcome of the Tidal Lagoon.  The Authority should look at other ways to produce hydro power.  Confirmed it is in Corporate Energy Plan to investigate this, however, it is not straightforward and little progress has been made. One example is a possible hydro turbine at the marina.  Currently looking at options through feasibility study and costing up to identify if this is possible.  There is an example of a small private one at Penllergaer Woods. 

·       Concerns about wind energy and the long term damage to the environment.  Examples include large amounts of concrete put into the ground, removal of areas of pristine peat which stops water running, pollution from lorry’s back and fore to the sites.  Need to explore other options to wind farms on top of hills.  The possibility of a huge one on the sea front is being explored. Working Group feels solar energy is the way forward for lots of reasons.

·       Working Group would like to see the Authority benefit from wind and solar energy farms.  Community benefit is currently the only benefit.  Possibility of Authority having solar panels on its buildings in the future and owning its own wind farms and solar energy farms.  Cabinet Member would like to bring a report back on this to scrutiny in the future.

·       The Authority’s Corporate Energy Plan states it will look into having its own local energy company.  Working Group feels this would be an asset for the people of Swansea.  This is a huge piece of work and has not started yet.

·       Working Group interested to learn more about the Authority’s Energy Venture and if this applies only to Council homes or all properties.   

·       Working Group requested timeline for providing information on asset valuation.  Cabinet Member agreed to provide this following the meeting. 

·       Working Group queried why so few schools currently have solar panels on their roofs.  It was clarified that it was funded by Council Community Energy Scheme and depended on the shape, position and condition of roofs and this limited the number.

·       Discussed the Authority’s overall energy strategy – the aim is to become fossil free.  There is a detailed action plan but it is a work in progress.  There is a lot Authority could do if we had the resource.  There is a long way to go but the path is to help people to reduce their usage.

·       The Authority has a small allocated budget for renewable energy.  £200 thousand in total was allocated to the corporate development team in 2017/18, some of which was for renewable energy.  Therefore each proposed project has to be evaluated as the business case has to stack up before going ahead.     

 

3.

Discussion and Conclusions

Councillors are asked to discuss conclusions arising from this session for inclusion in the Convener’s letter to the Cabinet Member:

 

a)    What you want to say about this issue to the Cabinet Member in the Convener’s letter (what are your conclusions arising from this session?)

 

b)    Do you have any recommendations for the Cabinet Member arising from this session?

 

c)    Are there any further issues you wish to highlight to the Scrutiny Programme Committee arising from this session?

Minutes:

The Working Group discussed progress and made the following conclusions:

 

  1. There should be more focus on global warming.  This is why we are doing all this work with renewable energy.
  2. Would like to see the people of Swansea benefit from any new renewable energy schemes including planning and housing development schemes.
  3. Encouraged that the Authority is looking at a number of renewable energy schemes currently.  They feel that ‘Homes as Power Stations’ is good way to lift people out of poverty.
  4. Welsh Government should provide incentives for organisations to produce their own energy as micro generation is good way to move forward.
  5. Authority should consider putting out information on energy efficiency to the public, for example, on line.  Also suggest information is provided to new tenants. 
  6. In relation to solar energy, Working Group feels it is important the Authority considers productivity and impact on the natural environment of wind farms and solar panels if it decides to go ahead with purchasing its own.
  7. Working Group has concerns about wind energy.  Solar energy is their preferred option (subject to planning permission).
  8. The Authority should explore other options for using hydro power more not just wait for outcome of tidal lagoon proposal.  For example, there could be incentive schemes introduced.
  9. Working Group understands that some schools have benefited from installing solar panels on school roofs and feels the Council should encourage other schools and community buildings to take advantage of this. 
  10. Working Group feels national government should be setting requirements on all new build – private and Council owned – to encourage energy generation and conservation. 
  11. Biggest investment in Swansea currently is City Deal.  Consideration needs to be given as to how renewable energy is going to be incorporated into this and also how Swansea is going to deal with the greater demand for energy for the City Deal. 
  12. In 2017/18 budget a corporate development team was funded which included renewable energy but need to think about resource going forward.  Need more resource as this department grows in responsibility for it to be sustainable. 
  13. Working Group understands there are a lot of new projects in the pipeline and feels that once these new projects are underway a follow up working group should be held as there will be a lot more to scrutinise.

 

 

Following on from this meeting:

 

·       A letter will be written from the convener of the Working Group to the Cabinet Member for Housing and Energy, summarising the discussion and outlining the Working Group’s thoughts and recommendations.

 

 

Letter to Cabinet Member pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Response from Cabinet Member (26 March 2018 meeting) pdf icon PDF 312 KB

 

Contacts:
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Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3SN. Tel: 01792 636000 Fax: 01792 636340