Members were presented with a report which provided an update on the implementation of the SCR Energy Strategy, and to provide responses to specific questions raised by the Board.
The SCR Energy Strategy had been prepared over the past 18 months and set out the ambition and direction of travel for supporting a low carbon growth economy, building energy resilience, and supporting measures to tackle both the Climate Emergency within the SCR and the transition to a low carbon economy. The SCR Infrastructure Board had overseen its preparation. The Strategy had been developed alongside the preparation of the new draft SCR Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) to ensure alignment and complementarity with the broader economic and social inclusion ambitions of the region. The SCR LEP Board had endorsed the strategy on 21 May 2020, and the MCA would consider the strategy for approval on 27 July 2020. Members noted the responses to the specific questions raised by the Board.
The next steps to implement the strategy was underway with partners and key stakeholders as part of a wider strategy for environmental sustainability and response to the Climate and Environmental Emergency. Members were referred to the £2.5bn Green Homes Grant which had been recently announced to support energy efficiency for the domestic homes.
Councillor Baker expressed concern regarding bringing forward research and delivery measures which would all take time. She queried whether a short-term strategy was in place to escalate matters quickly in order to start to make a difference now.
C Blackburn referred to some of the work that was already being implemented, particularly in relation to transport as the SCR Transport Strategy had been agreed in 2019, and the implementation plans were already in place and significant funding had now been secured through the SCRs £166m Transforming Cities Fund. Conversations were underway with transport providers regarding decarbonising the public transport network. Energise Barnsley is already delivering the UK’s largest local authority and community energy solar PV programme to improve the existing housing stock and enable residents to invest. Other local authorities are also similarly improving the energy efficiency of their housing stock.
There had been a recent Government announcement of £40m devolved to the SCR for brownfield housing and work was underway with housing directors and the SCR Housing Board with a view to accelerating the development of high quality sustainable homes within the next 2-5 years.
Councillor Jones queried how the £2.5bn allocated for housing would be distributed.
C Blackburn stated that the recent Government announcement had indicated that this would be made available via a voucher scheme through a Government website. Households would likely be able to input information regarding their home and be provided with advice on the required measures to improve their home efficiency, together with a list of local suppliers who could install energy efficiency improvements. The voucher would be up to the value of £5k per household, and the household was expected to invest one third of the amount. In relation to households within areas of deprivation, the Government had indicated that the voucher could be up to 100% of the contribution upto a maximum of £10,000.
Councillor Jones queried whether any influence could be made to provide funding to local planning authorities for support higher energy performance of buildings in their areas.
C Blackburn highlighted that this was already being undertaken through working with the local planning authorities to review their planning policies and provide a more supportive planning framework for improving housing energy efficiency standards. The MCA would likely be including minimum quality standards in the investments it makes in new and existing housing across the SCR. He reassured Members that in looking forward to future investments, it was the intention to improve the housing stock and to raise the bar in terms of quality and the energy efficiency of all buildings.
Councillor Jones referred to the consultants that had been used during the process together with the capability and capacity to look at alternative building methods to increase housing quality. He referred to other countries which had installed triple glazing windows within houses as standard. He queried whether research could be undertaken by the universities on the different methods of building to provide greater efficiency.
C Blackburn commented that the criteria for the Green Homes Grant to be launched later in the year is not yet available. However, in relation to improving buildings and better technologies, the AMRC and Universities in the SCR were already pioneering work with modular building to ascertain how buildings could be built to a better standard at less cost. Discussions were underway with local authorities around opportunities for aggregation in terms of supporting Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) homes..
Councillor Ross queried whether the development of renewables and electrical vehicle manufacturers such as Magtec were supported.
K Sample stated that detailed discussions with Magtec had not yet taken place, but work was underway with the measures to roll out Electric Vehicle charge points across the SCR. A total of £2.6m had been allocated for this purpose , which would provide for over 200 charge points in key locations across the SCR. Engagement could be made with a number of other electrical vehicle manufacturers moving forwards. Members were referred to the very ambitious targets within the Energy Strategy for renewables.
RESOLVED – That the Board noted:-
i) The next steps in delivering the SCR Energy Strategy.
ii) The comments received on the issues raised within the report.