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Solar panels on the roof of Hastings Furniture Service. The council’s climate strategy calls for many more such installations on the town’s rooftops (photo: HFS).

HBC adopts climate strategy and action plan

Following up on its declaration of a climate emergency early last year, Hastings Borough Council has agreed a climate strategy and action plan to help take it to its target of achieving carbon neutrality in the town by 2030. Nick Terdre reports.

The climate strategy and action plan were approved by the council’s new managing director Jane Hartnell on 23 March in her first tranche of decisions made under  emergency powers adopted last month.

The commitment to carbon neutrality was undertaken when the council passed a motion declaring a climate emergency in February 2019. The enormity of the undertaking is reflected in the fact that the action plan is limited to 2020-22, during which period a second action plan for the following eight years will be drawn up.

The strategy acknowledges that government support will be vital to achieving a target that is 20 years ahead of the national aim. It also recognises that the council only has control over a small proportion of Hastings’ total emissions and “achieving the carbon-neutral target will depend on changes that occur at a regional and national level as well as in local organisations, business, communities and our own lives.”

Six priority themes

Six priority themes form part of the strategy, including grid decarbonisation, reducing energy demand, boosting the generation of renewable energy through a programme of rooftop solar panel installations and promoting sustainable transport, including initiating the council’s own fleet of electric vehicles.

“Even with the challenge of COVID-19, climate change is one of the biggest threats we face. Quite simply, we cannot continue as we are,” said Maya Evans, lead councillor for climate change.

“Hastings has a significant journey to travel if we hope to meet our 2030 target, largely because of our poor housing stock and reliance on gas.

“One of our key actions over the next two years is to identify funding and investment partners, so we can reduce our energy demand and emissions with retrofit and renewable energy skills development.

“If the town works in partnership, delivering funded initiatives and changing behaviour, we can make significant progress towards this 2030 target.

“HBC is serious about climate change; this strategy reflects that commitment while acknowledging the responsibility we have, not only to our community but to the world. All local authorities must do their part to think globally and act locally.”

Emergency powers in action

With public meetings in the flesh about to be banned due to the coronavirus, the full council passed decision-making powers to the managing director, a newly established post, at its last face-to-face meeting on 18 March.

Before making decisions the managing director is obliged to consult with at least four Cabinet members. On this occasion, she consulted nine – Kim Forward, council leader, Andy Batsford, Sue Beaney, Peter Chowney, Evans, Colin Fitzgerald, Judy Rogers, all Labour, and Rob Lee and Andy Patmore, Conservatives.

All were in favour of approving the climate emergency strategy and action plan. With their backing the managing director also approved motions on continuing with the selective licensing scheme for privately rented properties in six wards and energy procurement.

Rother District Council adopted a draft environmental strategy in February and is currently consulting on it.

 

HBC’s climate strategy and action plan can be found in this public report pack.

Posted 20:55 Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020 In: The HOT Planet

7 Comments

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  1. Eye on the ball

    Perhaps the council could consider:

    – restrictions on burning of wood and coal for heating homes (reducing emissions)

    – requiring all new builds/roof replacements to use solar tiles or to incorporate solar panels (reducing usage of non-renewable energy)

    – offshore wind farms for renewable electricity generation

    Comment by Eye on the ball — Saturday, Apr 18, 2020 @ 17:04

  2. Bolshie

    I agree entirely with Michael Madden here on the Country Park idea of citing solar panels there. The park has already suffered enough with the Rocklands landslip and HBC allowing the blot on the landscape known as the “Bunker.”
    Problem is Michael this Labour party has a propensity to ignore what the public ask, object to, or raise in concerns. And now as Cllr Chowney had endorsed that £80K for some consultants to tell them what they want to hear is there any chance they will not spoil this park. Bets on that ???
    As for Cllr Evans promoting it as a wonderful idea who has no apparent qualifications or working experience in alternative energy, she is just toeing her party policy on this matter

    Comment by Bolshie — Tuesday, Apr 14, 2020 @ 11:45

  3. Chris Lewcock

    Whatever happened to the 55 page 2012 climate change policy which the Council commissioned using EU Regional Development Funds and involved (before adoption!!) consultation with at least 36 local stakeholder organisations? Sank without trace – not even mentioned in the current document. Will that happen again?
    https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/policies-strategies/climate/

    Comment by Chris Lewcock — Monday, Apr 13, 2020 @ 10:33

  4. kendal

    it’s refreshing to hear a forward looking acknowledgement from the council. Britain is WAY behind other European countries in this regard. some Spanish cities have superb waste and public transport systems that are imaginative, have substantial effect and are fun.

    i see no mention of the waste system and i hope this doesn’t turn out to be simply a face-lift for the town, whilst its waste system remains one of the worst i’ve experienced in some of the places i have lived. it would be like updating a restaurant front of house, whilst the kitchen, stores and facilities remain unsanitary. visitors to this resort are quick to mention the refuse spilling across the sea front pathways and promenade. The paltry beach bins hardly made any impact. this is replicated in other areas of town. it needs a system change.

    Copenhagen is a busy metropolis yet only 5% of their waste ends up in landfill. I hope HBC will take a hard look at who they contract for the waste, how it is collected and where it ends up. Areas of Hastings and St Leonards have little or no convenient recycling facilities and inadequate refuse recepticles, and repeated efforts to appraise them of more effective systems has fallen on deaf ears. the cleanliness of this area could be transformed very economically. there are people in these same industries within our community, as last year’s Commons Treasury and UNA meetings for Sustainability On Sea revealed. we are in a superb situation to not squander these opportunities.

    on a separate issue, will they also pressure SCC to agree to a close to shore no fishing zone between here and Beachy Head for growing and protecting kelp? It’s a very long time since our sea actually smelled of the sea.

    Comment by kendal — Monday, Apr 13, 2020 @ 07:51

  5. Bea Rogers

    I would like to see more focus on reduction of energy use, especially with home heating. A basic Council-sponsored package for people in draughty, damp or poorly insulated homes – providing insulating floor coverings, draught-proofing, and perhaps internal wall insulation – would really help people on low incomes. There could be long-term, ultra-low credit payments which would be more than covered by savings on electricity and gas. Landlords should be expected to pay as well.
    Incidentally, we really have to take seriously the reduction in use of gas for heating and hot water. Many estate agents recommend gas central heating as supposedly increasing the value of flats or houses, including their rental value. All-electric homes should be seen as the gold standard (and implemented when existing gas boilers reach the end of their life). OK, electricity is more expensive but combined with decent insulation it can be cost-effective, especially with individually timed heaters (with separate thermostats) so we are not heating a whole flat or house when we are only using one or two rooms. Gas central heating is not good at this – I have tried turning down radiators in rooms I am not using but one just carries on regardless. The pipework is also carrying hot water all around the flat for no purpose, and losing heat as it goes.
    The Council should incorporate these issues into their rental property licensing scheme.

    Comment by Bea Rogers — Friday, Apr 10, 2020 @ 11:41

  6. Penny

    Now that people are re-evaluating what is important in life, let’s hope that our natural assets, especially our Country park, are given the merit they rightfully deserve, and not sacrificed in the name of financial profit, or by ill-thought out political exercises, however well-meaning.
    I trust that decisions made without the benefit of public scrutiny, and with the postponement of local elections, will be extremely carefully taken. I cannot think of a legal precedent to the current state of affairs.

    Comment by Penny — Thursday, Apr 9, 2020 @ 23:23

  7. Michael Madden

    A message for the new Managing Director

    Dear Jane Hartnell. Of course it is great that the council is serious about climate change and that you plan to boost the generation of renewable energy in such a forward looking way. But please leave the Country Park out of this otherwise laudable plan.

    The Country Park is a very significant aspect of what makes Hastings unique and should be left as it has been for so long. Hastings is the envy of other councils precisely because of its wealth of green spaces and any decisions about altering the most treasured part of Hastings’ uniqueness should not be taken lightly, especially under ’emergency powers’.

    As Maya Evans so rightly says: “climate change is one of the biggest threats we face.” But the idea of placing two solar farms within the CP is an ill-considered and unpopular one already, and once it is done I believe it will be felt by many to have been a great mistake. It will create two very large areas surrounded by high fencing and that will change the feeling of the CP in a way that will cause resentment, and I think any such decision will come back to haunt the council in the future.

    Please keep Hastings visually Green as well as carbon neutral by putting solar panels on areasand buildings that have already been built on and will therefore not be spoilt by them.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020 @ 22:13

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