The Committee Members considered the Environment Departmental Business Plan 2022/23 presented in turn by the Cabinet Members for Environment, Public Protection and Communities and Rural Affairs in respect of the areas falling within their portfolios and the Committees remit.
The Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Affairs explained that whilst Net Zero Carbon transcended across all areas of the Council’s work, the responsibility had been transferred under the Environment Department and therefore the appropriate actions and measures had now included the Environment Departmental Business Plan.
The following comments/queries were raised in relation to the report:-
· Reference was made to the Planned Improvements for 2022/23 in relation to the introduction of the 20mph speed limits as a national default in residential areas. It was raised that there were a number of villages which did not have any limit set under the national speed limit of 60mph, it was asked how would these be affected? The Cabinet Member of Environment explained that the Welsh Government were currently looking at those areas with limits of 30mph and that they would be looking at urban areas as opposed to rural areas. In response to a further query regarding residential areas where no limits were currently set, the Highways and Transportation Manager clarified that the proposed Welsh Government legislation related to the term ‘restricted roads’, whereby the speed limit would be governed by a system of street lighting. Where street lighting exists on roads currently set with a 30mph limit, the new legislation required these areas to be reduced to 20mph. Therefore, those villages that do not have street lighting or a 30mph speed limit they would not be affected by the new legislation.
In response to a further query regarding residential areas with no current speed limit, the Highways and Transportation Manager stated that whilst these areas would not be considered under the legislation, settlements that may benefit from the introduction of a speed limit could be considered as part of the project.
· Reference was made to the measure cited on page 29 of the report ref E11 –“we will expand this successful approach and use S106 agreements and developer contribution to deliver other necessary biodiversity benefits where this is appropriate. (September 2022 & March 2023)”. It was commented that Members had recently been informed that they could apply for the S106 money to be used in their community. Clarification on the measure was sought with concern that communities would lose out on this S106 money. The Biodiversity Officer explained that for development where there was a significant impact on biodiversity, which could not be mitigated on site or where it was complicated to do so, the Council had successfully adopted an approach where S106 funding for CCC was accepted to undertake appropriate mitigation/compensation for the developer on site or offsite through an agreed funded management plan. This would allow for no net loss of biodiversity, whilst allowing the development to take place. The Biodiversity Officer provided relevant examples to the Committee.
· Reference was made to page 41 of the report – Ref 43 - Improve Active Travel Routes for Communities. The Highways and Transportation Manager, in response to a query of the non-inclusion of the Cardi Bach footway stated that the Active Travel initiative was in the main aimed towards a model shift away from vehicles thus encouraging walking and cycling It was explained that the Cardi Bach project was still in its formative stage in terms of development and that the Council was working with Sustrans and Pembrokeshire County Council regarding the feasibility of the project. Not until the feasibility studies were in a position to provide a definitive proposal together with secured funding for the scheme would it be included within the business plan which would include the necessary milestones for the project.
· Praise was expressed in the development of the new-style business plan, which include more information, more readable, easier to understand, provides the direction of travel and what success would look like. Appreciation was extended to the officers involved in the development of the plan.
· Reference was made to the upcoming agenda Item 9 – Non-submission report which provided an explanation of the non-submission of the Communities Departmental Business Plan 2022/23. It was raised that in line with the explanation, the items would be placed within the Environmental Departmental Plan. It was asked when this would be included? Head of Homes & Safer Communities reported whilst the new Sustainability and Place Division was being established, it would be prudent to consider the current synergies with Public Protection. Following this piece of work, the Communities Departmental Business Plan would be presented to Committee Members in July 2022.
· In response to a query regarding the future plans to start the waste amnesties in the North of the County, the Environmental Services Manager explained that there would be a review of practices as part of the pandemic recovery. The number of amnesties and locations would also be subject to review, communication with local Members be priority whilst moving towards normal working practices.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the Environment Department Business Plan 2022/23 be received.