Agenda item




[Note: Councillor K. Lloyd having earlier declared a personal interest in this item remained in the meeting, participated in the consideration but did not partake in the decision thereof].


Following the approval of the Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Plan by County Council on 12th February 2020, the draft Net Zero Carbon Plan update was developed in accordance with Action NZC-28 of the Plan that required performance reports on progress towards becoming a net zero carbon local authority by 2030 to be published annually. 


The Committee received the draft progress report presented by Councillor Cefin Campbell, the Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs.  The draft report comprised of detailed information within following sections:-


  • High Level Summary including Progress against Actions
  • COVID-19 and Climate Change
  • Progress Update
  • Future Actions
  • Wider Response to Climate Emergency (Appendix 1)


The following questions/issues were raised on the report:-


  • In terms of flooding matters, a query was raised how the Council was going to work with the farming unions?  The Executive Board for Communities and Rural Affairs stated that the Rural Affairs Working Group had considered slurry management which had noted that river pollution had decreased, however there were a number of other factors involved not just farming industry.  Farmers were required to adhere to set regulations, whereby breaches of the regulations could be a better measurement.


  • Reference was made to the funding that had been awarded by Welsh Government to install an electric vehicle superfast charging hub at Crosshands, it was asked if more information on this could be received? The Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs stated that there were currently 26 charging points across the County and the ambition was to install more.  The Head of Transportation & Highways provided an update confirming that a grant bid had been submitted to the Welsh Government to install a further 14 charging points next year.  In terms of development of the Crosshands superfast charging hub, it was confirmed that this was on schedule to ready for commission in April this year.


  • It was asked if electric vehicle charging points should be included as a planning condition for large developments e.g., supermarkets? The Head of Highways and Transportation explained that Welsh Government were currently developing a national strategy on electric vehicle charging for release later this year. Following the release of this strategy, the Council’s electric vehicle strategy could potentially seek a developer’s commitment regarding electric charging infrastructure. 


  • In response to a query on whether Western Power Distribution had any plans to improve the capacity of the local electricity distribution network system (Grid), the Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs stated that he was aware of discussions with Western Power Distribution on this matter.  The Sustainable Development Manager confirmed that Officers were in discussions with Western Power Distribution and Welsh Government Energy Service.  It was reported that Western Power Distribution had recently issued a call for evidence to identify ‘ready to go’ low carbon projects should there be sufficient Grid capacity. The Council would be responding to this call for evidence in conjunction with the Welsh Government Energy Service prior to the 19th March 2021 deadline.



In response to a further query, the Director of Environment stated that there was an example of a scheme that had been put forward by the Council’s waste and disposal company Cwm Environmental Ltd who had worked with Welsh Government Energy Service to introduce a second wind turbine at Nantycaws. Initial discussions with Western Power Distribution had indicated that it would be possible to install a wind turbine of a certain size to export to the Grid. However, upon further discussion it was disappointing to learn that the proposed wind turbine would have to be downsized due to the Grid not having sufficient capacity to accept the electricity generated by the proposed wind turbine.  This demonstrated that there were Grid constraint issues in connecting even a single wind turbine.  However, it was reported that the scheme was ready, and this would be fed back into Western Power Distribution’s recently issued call for evidence.


·      In response to a query in relation to whether there was sufficient energy to supply planned large developments, the Sustainable Development Manager stated that Western Power Distribution have an on-line interactive Network Capacity Map which provides information on available Grid capacity in specific areas (a hyperlink was provided on page 20 of the draft Update Report). Western Power Distribution have also produced on-line interactive Distribution Future Energy Scenarios that outline a range of futures for the growth of the Grid.


·      Disappointment was expressed that after two years since the Council initially declared a climate emergency in March 2019, the Welsh Government had not yet distributed its reporting guidance to Local Authorities.  It was asked if there was any sign of receiving the Wales Carbon Reporting guidance from Welsh Government?  The Sustainable Development Manager, in response, reported that it was anticipated that the guidance would be received before the end of March 2021.


·      Acknowledging the Grid infrastructure issues, it was asked if there was any high-level plan or strategy for Wales to increase its distribution capacity in order for all Authorities that have declared a climate emergency to meet the 2030 target?  The Sustainable Development Manager in response, acknowledged that this issue was not confined to individual Local Authorities stating that Carmarthenshire was just one of the potential   developers wishing to invest in renewable energy.  It was reported that the Welsh Government were in the process of developing a Decarbonisation Strategy which was likely to be completed before the Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, November 2021.


·      In response to a query in relation to the Council investing in renewable energy where reinforcement costs were necessary to increase the capacity of the Grid, the Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs stated that the cost of putting the necessary infrastructure in place could be significant and reassured Members that no money would be committed unless assurances were received that sufficient Grid capacity was available.  In addition, the Executive Board Member emphasised that it would be highly unlikely for any Local Authority to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 unless the Grid had sufficient capacity, therefore it was important for discussions to take place at Welsh Government and a UK Government levels.


·      Reference was made to the action regarding working with Carmarthenshire Public Services Board and Swansea Bay City Deal partners.  It was asked if any of the partners on the Public Services Board had declared a climate emergency and committed to Net Zero Carbon?  The Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs stated that he was not aware of any other public sector bodies in Carmarthenshire having declared a climate emergency, however the Public Services Board were currently discussing ways of reducing carbon footprint as a County.  The Director of Environment added that whilst all members of the Public Services Board were aware of the climate emergency and have objectives in place to reduce their carbon footprint, she would enquire to include this discussion on a future Public Services Board agenda.


  • It was proposed that this Committee write a letter to the Welsh Government to convey its concern regarding the limited capacity of the local electricity distribution network and to request that Welsh Government work with Local Authorities, and others, to develop a clear plan to address this issue.  In addition, the Committee in its letter, convey its disappointment that the Wales Carbon Reporting Guidance has not been published to date.  It was further proposed that the Committee request that the Executive Board, in a separate letter to the Welsh Government echo and support the Committee’s comments. The proposals were duly seconded.


  • In response to queries raised regarding the LED Street Lighting conversion project the Head of Transportation and Highways confirmed that the County road network had been completed with all 15,000 lights that were in the programme being converted to LED saving over 2.3m kilowatt hours of electricity used since 2015.  In addition, it was reported that whilst he would need to confirm with Members after the meeting, he believed that the conversion work had been completed for the majority of Town/Community Councils who had signed up to the scheme.




6.1      the Environmental and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee write    to the Welsh Government to convey the comments raised stated above;


6.2      IT BE RECOMMENDED TO THE EXECUTIVE BOARD that the        Executive Board write a letter to the Welsh Government in support of         and to reaffirm the Committee’s comments.


6.2      the Net Zero Carbon Plan – Update Report be received.


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