Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall
Contact: Ms. Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services officer
Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Alderman Copeland and Councillor Bower.
The minutes of the meeting of 15th June 2023 were taken as read and signed as correct. It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 3rd July.
Declarations of Interest
Councillor T. Brooks declared an interest in that she was employed by Queen’s University Belfast who had been invited to present to the Committee on the potential for rooftop Solar PV, on Council buildings and rooftops, across the city.
Mr. McHenry provided an update on a Shared Island project, undertaken in partnership between Belfast and Cork City Council, to explore the potential for Solar PV on Council buildings.
Mr. Pagani provided the Committee with information on the background and expertise of GIA in the Solar PV industry. He stated that the company had over thirty years of experience in the business and that their specialism was the harnessing of energy from both sunlight and daylight. The Members were informed that GIA’s research and development team had allowed them to develop technology to generate solar electricity from a diverse range of roof areas, in a city environment, and to do so within a framework of accuracy and scale.
Mr. McHenry provided the Committee with an overview of the research undertaken in regard to the ten Council buildings selected for potential rooftop Solar PV installation. He stated that, as part of that detailed investigation, an assessment had been undertaken using two methodologies namely:
1. A standard Assessment procedure; and
2. A Climate Based Daylight Modelling technique.
The Members were informed that €500 million had been set aside for capital funding covering the period 2021-2025, some of which had been earmarked for the North/South climate initiative between Belfast and Cork. Mr. McHenry highlighted the different attributes associated with the various solar panels on the market, currently, including conversion and output efficiencies. He stated that it was estimated that the Northern Ireland spend was £8.7 billion on energy per annum and referred to the potential savings associated with the increased use of solar PV panels across the city.
It was reported that 160,000 households were in fuel poverty, and he referred to the targets and timescales, specified within the Climate Act (NI) 2022, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Pagani provided the Committee with an outline of the Site Performance Assessment required to ascertain the viability and suitability of rooftops, across the city, to accommodate the installation of Solar PV Panels. He referred to the labour-intensive exercise associated with determining which rooftop areas were suitable for Solar VP adaptation, including shading and future building construction which could impede sunlight and the efficiency of the Solar PV panels. Mr. Pagani referred to the technology used to separate the various components of a rooftop surface area in order to maximise the usable space for the installation of rooftop Solar PV panels.
Mr. McHenry provided the Members with a list of the various Council buildings which were under consideration for the installation of Solar PV panels and the potential estimated Solar PV generation, using both SAP and CBDM methodologies. The Committee was informed that, by using GIA, the Council was using the services of a company with a tried and trusted track record, with the capability to operate at scale. He stated further that the GIA operated with a high degree of accuracy in terms of its projected energy generation from the installation of its Solar PV panels.
A Member stated that some of the savings ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
Belfast Region City Deal Net Zero Roadmap
Mr. Martin provided the Committee with an introduction and outline of the areas for consideration, in regard to climate change, highlighted within the Net-Zero Roadmap. He emphasised the importance of actions necessary if the Council was to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. To that end, he reported that the Council had agreed to commission an analysis of net-zero options and stated that the roadmap would set the strategic direction for the Council by assisting with future decision making and the provision of an evidence base to direct policy on decisions around climate change and mitigation measures.
Mr. Sudmant informed the Members that the net-zero roadmap was a bottom up, place-based assessment, specific to Belfast and the surrounding region. He explained that the roadmap was focussed on a technical and economic analysis and had been developed in conjunction with stakeholders.
The Committee was provided with detailed analysis as part of the steps necessary to achieve net-zero. It was reported that the Belfast Region emits 8.9 megatons of CO2 per annum. He confirmed that carbon emissions had reduced by thirty per cent since 1990 and was expected to reduce by fifty per cent between 1990 and 2050. Mr. Sudmant informed the Committee that the technology existed, currently, to mitigate against the majority of the remaining emissions. The Members were informed of the economic and employment benefits associated with a transition to green energy production, including a £1.3 billion energy saving potential by 2050.
Mr. Sudmant highlighted the fact that the Belfast Region (city deal area) had a higher emissions profile than the UK, largely as a result of the impact of agriculture and farming practices. He referred to the opportunity to reduce emissions, emanating from the housing sector, and the financial benefits associated with the introduction of mitigation measures, attached to carbon production, connected to agricultural practices.
The Committee was informed that up to twenty per cent of emissions, attached to the residential sector, could be mitigated and attributed to a financial return. He stated that some measures taken to reduce carbon emissions were not cost-neutral but highlighted the social benefits associated with a reduction in carbon emissions such as, clean air and improved health. Mr. Sudmant emphasised the benefits of mitigation measures which added to public value, despite not being cost effective to implement. He referred to the significant challenges required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the agricultural sector, including changes to land-use and modified agricultural practices.
In response to a question from a Member in terms of achieving easy wins and the impact of not having a functioning Assembly, to drive climate change, the Programme Director confirmed the need for substantial investment, both public and private. The Commissioner for Climate and City Resilience highlighted the legal and binding obligation, under the Climate Act, which holds governments accountable to achieve specified statutory emission targets by 2050.
The Committee, in recognition that Local authorities could not achieve their climate ambitions in isolation of other statutory agencies, agreed that a joined-up ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The Climate Commissioner submitted the undernoted report which provided an overview of the climate and environmental interventions contained within the Belfast Agenda. She stated that modification to the document. following a detailed consultation exercise, had resulted in a much greater emphasis on climate ambitions and emission targets, for the Council, and the city in general:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues
1.1 To provide members with an overview of the climate and environment interventions included within the Belfast Agenda ahead of the public consultation.
2.1 The Committee is asked to:
I. Note the climate and environment interventions included within the Belfast Agenda;
II. A further update will be provided to Members following the public consultation.
3.0 Main report
In the refreshed Belfast Agenda the environmental and climate considerations have been strengthened to reflect the feedback from the wide range of stakeholders that have been consulted. At the city level this work has been overseen by the Resilience and Sustainability Board as part of the wider community planning partnership. In particular the carbon targets adopted by Council last year have now been embedded in the city’s ambitions for 2035. Creating a sustainable nature-positive city is now one of the five main themes with three key priorities over the next four years:
1. Re?naturing the city and improving the food system
2. Creating a sustainable circular economy
3. Innovating to Net Zero
3.2 Re?naturing the city and improving the food system
Under this priority, there are three strategic intents:
· Increase carbon capture and sequestration across Belfast, while reducing flood risk, enhancing biodiversity and improving the health of residents across the city through the One Million Trees project;
· Develop a demonstrator site in Botanic Gardens to test nature-based solutions through the UPSURGE project to strengthen climate resilience;
· Promote the uptake of nature-based solutions across the city to support climate resilience by integrating climate adaptation into strategic plans and urban agendas, by building adaptive capacity to deliver nature-based solutions, by scoping a city-wide regeneration programme to replace impermeable surfaces with green infrastructure, contributing to biodiversity and civic amenity, and by identifying funding opportunities to scale up nature-based solutions
3.3 Creating a sustainable circular economy
Under this priority, there are six strategic intents:
1. Enable the city to decarbonise at scale using the Belfast Local Area Energy Plan to develop a pipeline of investable local energy projects arising from the Local Area Energy Plan and identifying and responding to emerging funding and financing opportunities;
2. Promote sustainable circular economy approaches through the Shared Island funded Circular Economy Feasibility and Business Case in partnership with Dublin City Council, the UP2030 project (which aims to embed net zero in urban planning) and by reducing the carbon / environmental impact of municipal waste;
3. Promote a Just Transition to Net Zero in Belfast by addressing the social risks of the transition (eg. employment shifts, impact on supply chains etc.), identifying social opportunities and co-benefits of the transition and through ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Application for phase 2 funding from Innovate UK for the Pathfinders: Net Zero Living competition
The Climate Commissioner provided the Committee with an update on the Council’s application proposal for stage 2 funding in regard to the Pathfinders (Net Zero Living Competition). She provided the Members with proposals attached to that funding application and detailed how, if successful, the funding would assist the city in the development of its net zero options.
The Committee noted the information provided and wished the officers success in pursuance of their phase 2 funding application.
The Climate Commissioner submitted the undernoted report in regard to its intention to apply for membership of the C40 group.
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues
1.1 This report will update Members on a Notice of Motion raised in Standards and Business Committee on the 25th October 2022 suggesting membership of the C40 network.
1.1 The Committee is asked to:
I. Note the content of the Notice of Motion raised at the Standards and Business Committee on the 25th October 2022.
II. Note that having enquired about Belfast joining C40 the Climate Unit was informed that membership is at full capacity. Belfast City Council Climate Unit has registered our interest should membership reopen.
III. Note that in relation to climate and resilience networks, Belfast is currently a member of the Global Resilient Cities Network, Core Cities Network, Eurocities Network and ICLEI Network, in addition to the PCAN Network mentioned in the Notice of Motion.
3.0 Main report
1.1 At the Standards and Business Committee on the 25th October 2022 Councillor Matt Collins proposed the following notice of motion, which was seconded by Councillor Ferguson and agreed by the Committee:
1.2 ‘Belfast City Council notes that the C40 World Mayors Summit occurred between 19 – 21 October 2022 in Buenos Aires. The Council notes that the C40 World Mayors Summit brings together the mayors of global and regional cities, alongside business leaders, philanthropists, campaigners, youth leaders, scientists and residents, to share bold ideas, showcase innovative solutions and stand together to create a sustainable, prosperous and equitable future. This Council notes that it already supports the work of the Belfast Climate Commission and is part of the Place-based Climate Action Network (‘PCAN’). The Council also notes that the C40 Leadership Standards are as follows:
3.3 Plan: City has adopted a resilient and inclusive climate action plan aligned with the 1.5?C ambition of the Paris Agreement, and updates it regularly;
3.4 Deliver: In 2024, city remains on track to deliver its climate action plan, contributing to increased resilience, equitable outcomes and halving C40’s overall emissions by 2030;
3.5 Mainstream: City uses the necessary financial, regulatory and other tools at their disposal to address the climate crisis and mainstreams their equitable climate targets into the most impactful city decision-making processes;
3.6 Innovate: City innovates and starts taking inclusive and resilient action to address emissions beyond the direct control of the city government, such as associated with goods and services consumed in their city;
3.7 Lead: Mayor and the city demonstrate global climate leadership and inspire others to act in support of the Paris Agreement.
3.8 These Leadership Standards will guide C40’s collective action until at least 2024. The Council considers that this PCAN work would be enhanced by Belfast City Council applying to join C40 as an ‘Innovator’. An ‘Innovator’ city is one that shows exceptional climate leadership at the global level, but do not meet the population/size criteria of a ‘Megacity.’
3.9 Accordingly, the Council ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Issues raised in advance by Members
Proposed agenda items for future meetings - Cllr Brooks
Councillor Brooks requested that the following areas be considered by the Committee on dates, and in a sequence, deemed appropriate by officers and the Chairperson.
1. Cycle Lanes - Councillor Brooks requested the DfI be invited to a future meeting of the Committee, in addition to Sustrans, to provide an update on the Belfast Cycling Delivery Network and how the cycling infrastructure might be improved.
2. Passive House Design - Councillor Brooks requested that the Southwest College, based in Enniskillen, which had undertaken a passive house development, be invited to a future meeting of the Committee to outline their experience of that development project in terms of its cost and pay-back period.
3. Embodied Carbon - Councillor Brooks requested that Dr. Siobhan Cox, from Queen’s University Belfast, be invited, to a future meeting of the Committee, to ascertain the calculation methodology and measures which might be put in place to reduce the amount of embodied carbon generated, as part of the Council’s future operational and capital projects.
4. EV Charging Points – Councillor Brooks requested that an update be provided, to a future meeting of the Committee, on the development proposals in regard to both the infrastructure and funding of EV charging points, throughout the city.
In response, the Climate Commissioner reported that the issues raised relevant to active travel was the responsibility of the People and Communities Committee and that any presentation to the Climate and Resilience Committee, on those issues, would be for notation only.
In regard to the additional issue raised by Councillor Brooks on the Council’s vehicle fleet, the Climate Commissioner stated that she would be happy to arrange for the Director (Operational) City and Neighbourhood Services to be invited to provide an update on progress, in regard to the electrification of the Council fleet and for DfI to be invited to provide an update on the expansion of cycle lanes and the development of future cycling infrastructure. She reported, also that she would be content to invite Sony to provide information on the capacity of the network to meet the future demand from electric vehicle charging points.
She agreed to the Member’s request to invite Southwest College (Enniskillen) to provide the Committee with an update on their experience with passive house design and that an invitation be extended to Ms. Wendy Langham (Belfast Stories) to provide an update on their ambition to attain ‘Passive House Plus’ standard for future house construction. The Climate Commissioner confirmed also that Dr. Siobhan Cox, Queen’s University Belfast, would be invited to provide the Members with an update on embodied carbon emissions.
The Committee agreed to the presentations requested by Councillor Brooks, on the proviso that the presentations were time limited to allow for adequate debate of the remaining agenda items under discussion.
Date of Next Meeting
The Committee agreed that its next meeting be held on Thursday, 14th September at 5.15 p.m.