The Lead Specialist (Strategic Planning) introduced the report and briefly reminded members of the process and work undertaken to date. She explained that since the Task and Finish Group had last met, the comments made at the last workshop had been included in to the latest version of the draft strategy. A stakeholder consultation event had taken place in mid September to provide an opportunity for comment. The strategy had been strengthened following comments and would continue to evolve over time. During October, she would be attending the Annual Parish Meetings organised by SSDC in each Area to discuss how we engage and involve local communities.
Two members of the public then addressed members about the strategy, their comments included:
· Some concerns that the strategy as it stands doesn’t go quite far enough.
· Should be more reference to ecology, nature and nature depletion as there will be new legislation soon. Ask that a priority outcome is included for nature recovery. Also feel this element should be included within the Open Spaces Strategy.
· A brief overview of the current climate situation.
· Strategy as it stands is a business as usual document but feel it should evolve into something else.
· Near the start of the document it should be made more clear that it’s interim and time limited, and within a defined timeframe it will be replaced with a more comprehensive one.
· Congratulations of what’s been done so far.
During discussion members raised several comments and queries, some of which included?
· Statistics are included about waste, but we understood there were difficulties getting specific data regarding the SSDC area, is the figure quoted accurate?
· The word ‘sequestration’ is used several times in the report but it is a term that many people may not understand. Suggest alternative wording is used.
· Table at 8.1, last section, refers to planting of 1000 trees which seems a small figure.
· The Environment Strategy is creating a lot positivity in parishes and they are keen to engage with us, but how best should they go about feeding back to us?
· When will electric vehicle charging points be district wide? Understand there are non-standard connectors so it’s an issue that needs to be looked into.
· Cycling – it’s not easy to find out information about where cycle paths are.
· There needs to be more engagement with housing developers regarding green canopies, insulation, drainage and renewable energy. Does there need to be more guidance included in the Local Plan?
· There is little reference to farming in the strategy as it’s felt this is an area better suited to other organisations. Feel there should be some explanation of this within the strategy, as people living in a rural area will expect there to be reference to food and farming.
· We seem to be the only local authority who has engaged with the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) in developing their Environment Strategy.
· It’s a good document given the timescales involved.
The Lead Specialist (Strategic Planning), Directory (Strategy & Support Services) and the Leisure & Recreation Manager responded to points of detail raised during discussion by members and the public representatives. Some of their responses included:
· The waste figure had been provided by the Somerset Waste Partnership. Difficulties with sourcing data and statistics specific to the SSDC area was regarding continuous data monitoring rather than once-off figures.
· Through various channels of communications we will be encouraging people to sign up to become involved. We can’t do everything on our own and need the support of our communities.
· 1000 trees is a minimum commitment, would like to do more but more background work and information is required in order to make robust decisions about what, when and where.
· Public transport – can only be addressed through national policy as in rural area it is prohibitive cost wise.
· A cycling review has recently been undertaken in Yeovil. Agree there is work to be done.
· There is a conflict between the need to deliver homes and to deliver homes within the Environment Strategy. The issue continues to be discussed at length.
· Strategy does refer to it being interim. It’s hoped the strategy will feed in to all decision making by SSDC.
· This is a high level strategy. When developing the delivery plan, SSDC land will be considered and will be looking to form a nature partnership.
· Acknowledge comments made about agriculture, and some wording would be included in the final strategy. Officers would also look at revised wording or an explanation for the term sequestration.
At the end of discussion, members were content that the strategy be supported but
recommended two actions before the final strategy is presented to full Council for adoption:
o The word ‘sequestration’ should be replaced with alternative wording as it was felt many people may not understand the term.
o An explanation should be included as to why there is little reference to food, farming and agriculture.
Members thanked officers for attending the meeting and the work undertaken with the strategy.
- Scrutiny Committee Report - Environment Strategy Oct 2019, item 55. PDF 75 KB
- Environment Strategy October 2019, item 55. PDF 390 KB