Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Hybrid - Room 116, 16 Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD / Microsoft Teams

Contact: Craig Evans, Governance Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Introductions

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed attendees to the hybrid meeting and thanked attendees for either attending in person at Summer Lane or virtually.

 

The Chair noted a petition and public letter received to the board that was forwarded to the WMCA for noting.   

2.

Apologies for Absence

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Simon Phipps and Councillor Waseem Zaffar.

3.

Notice of Substitutes

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

Councillor Laura Taylor-Childs (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council) for Councillor Simon Phipps.

4.

Minutes - 1 December 2021 pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on the 1 December 2021 were agreed as a correct record.

5.

Behaviour Change - Retrofit, Right Tree Right Place and CWG Food pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Presented By: Jackie Homan / Katie Jepson

Minutes:

The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer provided a presentation to update the board on delivery of the Behaviour Change Programme and future work.

 

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned in May 2021 to create a strategy and plan for how the WMCA influence people’s behaviour to achieve net zero by 2041.  Within the research, BIT used different framings within environment communications to understand what messaging resonated the most with the public and recommended environmental communications should be kept simple wherever possible and to align messaging on climate change with co-benefits of promoting behaviour changes such as improving health.  In addition, BIT surveyed almost 2,000 people across the region to understand the most effective messaging for communications and found the most popular strapline of ‘West Midlands Greener Together’ emerged with branding guidelines and logos now developed and in use for communications by the Energy and Environment teams at the WMCA.  The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer noted however that communications alone would have a limited impact on scaled and sustained behaviour changes and would be most effective in tandem with behaviour change initiatives BIT had identified on three areas of focus for an implementation plan on the natural environment, sustainable food and home retrofit.

 

The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer outlined from the presentation an update from the three focus areas of the campaign work for natural environment, sustainable food and home retrofit, noting key highlights to date and future work plans for each.

 

The Environment Behaviour Change Project Officer noted from the presentation there would also be citizen engagement, which would consist of a Net Zero Panel to allow the public to co-design and co-produce elements of the developing Environment team and Energy Capital work and a West Midlands Greener Together Forum to create a space for environmental non-governmental organisations, community groups, the public and others from across the region to discuss the route to net zero and inspire collaboration.  Furthermore, as part of creating a legacy from the Commonwealth Games, the WMCA was in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee’s Sustainability team in creating carbon literacy training for volunteers, citizens and businesses within the region to enable people to understand and confidently communicate the climate emergency and identification of actions, as well as the WMCA having successfully applied on to the Local Climate Engagement Programme to support local authorities and partnerships to plan, commission and deliver high quality public engagement with climate decision-making to benefit both the WMCA and the local population.

 

The Chair remarked on the recent positive climate emergency ratings and rankings of the WMCA and local authorities in the region and thanked officers for their work that reflected a plan for action represented from positive behaviour changes.

 

The Chair noted his observations from the report and firstly commented on the ‘Right Tree Right Place’ within the Natural Environment Plan to outline the importance and value of tree planting, hedges for biodiversity and risk of gardens not being developed on, loss of trees from people  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Levelling Up White Paper pdf icon PDF 284 KB

Presented By: Ed Cox

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Service Reform gave a verbal report to outline the Levelling Up White Paper as well as the process established at the WMCA for exploration and the offers and asks to put forward to government in relation to a trailblazer devolution deal offered by government to the WMCA and Greater Manchester Combined Authority to negotiate further deals unlike other areas in England.        

 

The Levelling Up White Paper was published on 2 February 2022.  Within the paper, it defined ‘levelling up’ as:

 

·       Increasing opportunity across the UK, and

·       Reducing disparities between and within regions.

 

The WMCA had identified 20 workstreams to address with government for levelling up, with one of the workstreams being net zero so that energy and environment was incorporated in to all other workstreams in housing, regeneration, planning, health, social capital and social economy.

 

There had been several informal meetings of the mayor, local authority leaders and other regional stakeholders, as well as initial meetings with government officials and ministerial aides where several principles had been articulated to help guide the trailblazer devolution deal process.

 

Following these discussions, the Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Service Reform referenced from the report the six devolution asks over the three areas of stimulating the low carbon and smart energy sector, decarbonisation of heat (retrofit) and local area energy planning.        

 

The full extent of the timetable for the trailblazer devolution deal was not known, however the WMCA planned to have a draft proposal by June 2022 for submission to government before summer recess. 

 

The Chair thanked the Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Service Reform and his team for their work on devolution to the region but noted concerns that the report did not reference the transport agenda such as vehicles in reducing emissions and improved transport routing, identification of best practices and products for retrofit use and to be mindful of language used for energy planning for the public to understand and have headings that are meaningful and showcase action for simplification. 

 

Matthew Rhodes extended his thanks to the WMCA in having a framework for engagement but noted concern of the industrial decarbonisation in employment of people within the region for achieving net zero being a challenge and threat  to jobs.  Matthew noted that resolving the issue of a transition from the current economic base to net zero was most important for retainment in productivity of skilled jobs in the region and was a huge task.  Matthew noted positive investment opportunities such as the Gigafactory in Coventry would provide great opportunities for greener technologies for the future, however further opportunities and investment in reconfiguring foundries in the black Country in enabling green fuels, employment of people and production of cleaner products would be required from the WMCA and public sector to support this transition.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  The publication of the Levelling Up White Paper and reflections on its   implications for the WMCA area was noted.

 

(2)  Feedback on the collaborative governance for development of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Retrofit - SMART Hub and Net Zero Neighbourhood pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Presented By: George Simms

Minutes:

The SMART Hub Lead for the WMCA provided a presentation to update on progress on the Energy Capital team’s SMART Hub (Sustainable Market for Affordable Retrofit Technologies) Programme, which focussed on home retrofit for getting homes in the region to net zero and reducing fuel poverty.

 

The priorities of the SMART Hub were to increase knowledge and capacity for retrofit in local authorities and social landlords, make the most of available funding and find ways to leverage funding and finance, support supply chain growth and increase demand.

 

The aim of the SMART Hub programme was to build capacity across local authorities and other partner organisations in the region and to lay the foundations for longer term growth in the market for home retrofit.  These aims would be grouped in to three activities of capacity building, demonstrator projects and market development support to establish which the SMART Hub Lead outlined the current and future activities, as well as opportunities in greater detail during the presentation.

 

The Chair noted from the report he would like to have seen an emphasis on what the solutions were to obstacles and barriers for retrofit homes and raised points on components within the supply chain, standardisation of builds and promotion of systems and practices for officers to note and consider.   

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  The work of the SMART Hub in supporting retrofit across the WMCA area was noted.

8.

Marches Energy Agency and Act on Energy

Presented By: George Simms

Minutes:

Rachel Jones (Act on Energy) and Simon Ross (Marches Energy Agency) gave the board their verbal personal experiences in the delivery of retrofit programmes, particularly local authority delivery schemes and an update on the Sustainable Warmth Programme.

 

Rachel firstly noted the energy price cap coming in April and then October that would cause an increase in fuel and energy bills had initiated an unprecedented demand in contact from families, younger and single people for services to receive advice and support to enable solutions for the short and longer-term alongside interventions already announced by government on council tax support, rebate on energy bills.  Rachel noted that 70% of families had enquired  about the existing household support fund administered by local authority’s.  Rachel noted the importance of taking householders on a journey due to the concern in unaffordability of householders to heat their homes to prepare for.     

 

Simon provided an update of the Sustainable Warmth Programme funding held within the Marches Energy Agency to provide customer support and offering a ‘hand holding’ role for householders across the WMCA area where the funding flowed from the Midlands Energy Hub.  The Marches Energy Agency provided a wealth of support to householders in obtaining new technology and heating controls for people’s homes and where eligibility was not met, further support offered through other initiatives such as home visits for low-cost measures, billing support, negotiations between householders with energy suppliers and loft and cavity wall insulation.  Simon outlined the support to local authorities to help with area-based mapping for the next round of Sustainability Warmth Competition funding from 1 April and providing internal briefing notes and monthly reports to move the programme forward.  Simon noted that from a householder perspective was surprised by the vulnerability of householders coming forward into the program and the amount of work needed to effectively hand hold them through the process, as well as during and after the install process due to supply chain stresses and workmanship not being as it was post-instal to ensure the technology was usable for householders.  Simon noted the importance of local authority representatives to please support us to support your officers who are doing this program to make sure they’ve got all the support they need internally to unblock blockages.       

 

Rachel and Simon offered meetings with Councillors on further information they could provide for supporting their local authority areas and the importance of prioritising the price cap agenda especially with just under £20million of the Sustainable Warmth Fund Programme being received in to the WMCA to ensure it is all spent and to promote for the public who don’t have smart meter readings to take a meter reading prior to the 1 April price cap.

 

The Chair noted the importance of ‘hand-holding’ as a difference between a job well done and not well done in that people feel looked after in that process where quite often an attitude of fall off can occur.        

 

In response to a question from Councillor Peter Fowler who queried the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.