Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 4 March 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Phil Awford and Eva Ward.

 

Cllrs Will Windsor-Clive and Rachel Smith were present as substitutes.

 

Cllr Nigel Moor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning and Colin Chick, Director for Economy, Environment and Infrastructure sent apologies due to needing to attend the Western Gateway Board meeting.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2020 were approved and signed by the Chair.

3.

Declarations of interest

Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.

 

Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

4.

Draft Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To consider the attached report and draft strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1       Philip Williams, Lead Commissioner Community Infrastructure, opened the item thanking the Committee for their useful feedback and steer on the draft proposals at the January 2020 Committee meeting.

 

4.2       The Committee were informed that the Council had since commissioned Atkins to produce an overarching strategy which would help join up the threads and deliver the most appropriate Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) infrastructure for the County. It was emphasised that the report and presentation here represented a first draft and officers welcomed further feedback to help shape a final strategy.Kevin Mather and Jodie Savickas from Atkins were then introduced to present the draft strategy (presentation attached at Annex 1).

 

4.3       Members were advised that Atkins had set a policy position using the feedback from the previous Committee meeting and by undertaking nationwide research on other strategy examples. The expectation was, following the approval and adoption of the strategy by GCC, investment in the strategy would then be prioritised to seek appropriate procurement approaches.

 

4.4       The Committee noted that even though this was a new policy area, it had evolved fast and there were already a range of national, regional and local policies in place that covered the enablement of rolling out the new technology. This also was not something that only affected the transport sector (slide 3).

 

4.5       Slides 5 – 11 gave an overview of the existing situation in the County as a whole and then divided between districts. The map on the right showed approximate locations of existing ULEV charging points and the map on the left reflected commuter patterns taken from the ‘Travel to Work’ Census data.

 

4.6       It was highlighted that there are currently 136 chargers across the county for 5,200 registered ULEVs. This represented a 1.2% average in Gloucestershire for ULEV ownership which was slightly lower than the national average.

 

4.7       The commuting patterns allowed Atkins to understand whether the current distance range for ULEVs would be an inhibiter to resident’s commutes. The maps showed that a majority of the county’s residents only travel within the county for their work and therefore would not be constrained by range limitations.

 

4.8       Where the maps divide into districts, hot spot analysis and parking restrictions data had been overlaid to allow Atkins to understand where there were off-street parking restrictions coupled with a high concentration of terraced housing. Where these criterion overlapped, this highlighted the best opportunities for GCC to be providing the ULEV infrastructure.

 

4.9       Atkins also reviewed the Acorn Market Segmentation Data and slide 12 showed a snapshot example of this. They had data for the whole county and it allowed a further level of prioritisation analysis focused on behaviours.

 

4.10    On slides 13 – 15 the Committee noted proposals for the ULEV network in terms of where chargers would need to be available, the type of charger that would be most appropriate and the average journey times to key services. This analysis helped Atkins to understand which type of charger would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Biodiversity draft information sheet pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To consider the attached draft biodiversity information sheet that has been produced as a result of a recommendation from the Biodiversity Task Group.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1       Kathryn Haworth, Highways Lead Commissioner, reminded Members that the attached paper contained a draft information leaflet and a covering report which was requested by the Committee in November 2018. These were taken as read and the discussion was opened up for feedback.

 

5.2       There was a query as to whether there was any specific advice for parish councils on the ash dieback tree disease. In response, it was advised that the recently approved GCC budget for 2020/21 allocated £0.5 million to begin preparing a strategy for tackling this issue. There was ongoing consultation and discussion with the ecology unit and partners such as the Forestry Commission that have an in-depth knowledge of the disease. Whilst further information was being gathered, it was agreed to reference some information sources GCC were aware of already.

 

5.3       A member noted that one of the Biodiversity task group recommendations was to develop a business case on collecting cuttings after the verge had been cut. It was questioned whether there was any advice about addressing this within parish maintained verges. The Committee were reminded that the business case was produced and it had unfortunately identified that it would be too costly to move to a ‘cut and collect’ option at this time due to the lack of available technology. Parish councils were encouraged to discuss any initiatives for collecting cuttings, on a smaller scale, with their local highways manager.

 

5.4       There was a discussion about the importance of communication from GCC to other councils and to residents on conservation verges and a move to reduce cutting in order to allow biodiversity time to flourish. It was agreed that rather than including this in the information sheet, it would be a long-term action for officers to take away. The highways team would be seeking to develop a mapping solution that would work countywide for a range of vegetation management issues such as this.

 

5.5       It was explained on questioning that any other council undertaking grass cutting on behalf of GCC did so in line with GCC guidance and procedures and would be paid for the same level of service. Sometimes local councils would choose to additionally supplement this work and would also involve volunteers. It was agreed that discussions in relation to this service should be kept between the relevant council and their local GCC highways manager. The information in the proposed leaflet should remain focused on biodiversity and how to protect.

 

5.6       Finally, a member raised the issue of utility companies carrying out essential works but ended up causing damage to the verge in the process. It is understood that there was a requirement for companies to restore any verge damage but it was questioned how far GCC would enforce guidance such as this. It was asked to take away this query and discuss with the street works team who liaise with utility companies.

 

ACTION:       KATHRYN HAWORTH

6.

Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Annual Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 303 KB

To consider and comment on the draft Annual Progress and Implementation Plan.

Minutes:

6.1       James Blockley, Principal Flood Risk Management Officer, introduced the Annual Progress and Implementation Plan which looked back at the previous year and forward to the next year (2019-2021).

 

6.2       The Committee noted that over the past 13 months, thousands of residents in Gloucestershire had been affected in some way by flooding, including the most recent incident mainly in Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean. It was also noted that unfortunately, extreme weather events were going to become the norm and flooding would no longer occur in isolated incidents. It was therefore very important that the team continued to build resilience for the county against future events.

 

6.3       Members heard that the best way to tackle flooding was not just to focus on individual capital development schemes, but to also look at ways of managing the risk be that through natural or more traditional alleviation schemes.

 

6.4       The team at GCC has had two new members join in the past year and had been focusing good effort on maintaining closer relationships with the wider level of organisations surrounding flood management, for example, the Environment Agency and NFU, as well as, maintaining key roles in the Natural Flood Management Forum and the River Severn Corridor project.

 

6.5       It was concluded that if the Committee were happy with the report, it would be published and available online after the meeting.

 

6.6       A member queried how the new tree planting objectives for the county would work alongside the flood risk management objectives, it was highlighted that trees may cause a hindrance to water flow in some areas.

 

6.7       It was advised that working with natural processes was a part of flood management and sometimes tree planting would stabilise the land, but it was vital that this method was only used in the right place. It was also important to work in partnership and share best practice.

 

6.8       A member questioned why in table 3.1 some parishes showed an increase in calculated risk but there was no action to address this. It was requested to take discussion about an individual parish offline so more detail could be provided. It was reassured that this list was revisited on a regular basis and measured against a wide range of metrics.

 

6.9       The report stated that the Council would allocate at least £2.1 million per year for flood prevention; it was questioned how many years previous this had happened. It was advised that this went back to 2008 when the Council exercised a flood levy through council tax.

 

6.10    A member requested for information to be provided on the financial contributions of the district councils and Environment Agency into the county’s flood alleviation works since 2008. It was also raised that there was a typo on page 5 of the report where planned activities should be for 2020 not 2019.

 

ACTION:       JAMES BLOCKLEY

 

6.11    There was a discussion about the prioritisation of alleviation works. Members noted that scheme prioritisation does take into account how many times  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Executive Director's Report: Economy, Environment and Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Colin Chick, Director of Economy, Community & Infrastructure to update the Committee on current issues.

Minutes:

7.1       As apologies had been received from Colin Chick, the department’s three Lead Commissioners were present at the meeting to cover this item. It was agreed that each would take their relevant sections of the report in turn and answer questions.

 

7.2       To begin, Simon Excell, Lead Commissioner for Strategic Infrastructure, covered the main points within section 4 of the report. It was advised that 4.1 and 4.3 were expecting imminent decisions on their funding, potentially by this time next week as this was budget day for the Government.

 

7.3       The West Cheltenham Transport Improvement project hoped to have site mobilisation shortly as contractors were currently being appointed and the Local Transport Plan Review had received a lot of public and member interest during its consultation period. This would be discussed in further detail at the Committee’s joint meeting in May 2020.

 

7.4       It was queried whether officers were concerned that a number of major infrastructure schemes would be impacted in the same way as the Heathrow runway project. It was advised that confidence still remained on these schemes but the team would continue to monitor the national picture and respond accordingly. In addition, GCC were very keen to work with district councils to make sure their local plans had sufficient and robust transport evidence within them.

 

7.5       A member asked if the final version of the GCC officer representations on the recent consultation for the Stroud District Local Plan could be shared with the Committee.

 

ACTION:       SIMON EXCELL

 

7.6       Second, Philip Williams, Lead Commissioner for Community Infrastructure, covered section 3 of the report. Members were advised that the changes to revert Boots corner back would likely take a few months yet. There were a lot of temporary safety barriers in place and the pedestrian crossing needed to be reinstated properly.

 

7.7       The Climate Change Strategy was in its first year of the action plan and the high level commitments. A temporary project manager started in the team last month and Gloucester City Council would be recruiting a countywide coordinator post to help align future activities.

 

7.8       A member raised an ongoing issue with the traffic light management system at the far end of Boots corner. It was advised that two junctions on the ring road were in the 2020/21 capital works improvement programme.

 

7.9       It was questioned how carbon emissions and the impact on climate change would be communicated through the due regards statement process for council policy. It was advised that it would have to be taken offline and discussed with the officer leading on the strategy as to how high of a priority this particular aspect was during the first year. It was recognised however that the impact on climate change should be taken into account across all the Council’s works.

 

ACTION:       PHILIP WILLIAMS

 

7.10    Concern was raised that during the recent flooding incidents in Tewkesbury, traffic wardens were booking vehicles and it was requested that officers address this to make sure it didn’t happen during  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings. (Work plan attached).

Minutes:

The Committee discussed the following points in relation to its ongoing work plan:

 

·         It was noted that the next meeting in May 2020 was a one item joint meeting with the Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee on the Local Transport Plan Review.

·         For the July 2020 meeting it was agreed that the there would be a report back from the Single-use Plastics Task group, and members requested an update report on the highways contracts and DMMO outreach position.

·         Members then worked through the remaining items on their possible future items list and discussed whether they were still relevant for future meetings.

·         It was decided that the lengthsman scheme update could now be included within the Directors report if required.

·         It was agreed that there were regular updates when appropriate on Air Quality, Climate Change and the Dynamic Purchasing System for Transport. If the Committee noticed the need for a more in-depth item on these topics, it could be requested at the time.

·         The Cotswold National Park discussion was with Government at the moment and there had been no timeline associated with its response. Officers would highlight when this was received.

·         The Committee requested that Democratic Services look into the arrangement of a visit to Javelin Park for the Committee and the item on motion 787 to understand if it needed revisiting by the Committee.

ACTION:       DEMOCRATIC SERVICES