Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: Room 116, West Midlands Combined Authority, 16 Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD

Contact: Craig Evans, Governance Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies for Absence

Presented By: Chair

Decision:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jim O’Boyle (Coventry City Council), Matthew Rhodes (Energy Capital) and Suzanne Ward (Environment Agency).

 

The meeting was inquorate and therefore the decisions contained within the recommendations of the reports would be ratified at the WMCA Board on 12 January 2024.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jim O’Boyle (Coventry City Council), Matthew Rhodes (Energy Capital) and Suzanne Ward (Environment Agency).

 

The meeting was inquorate and therefore the decisions contained within the recommendations of the reports would be ratified at the WMCA Board on 12 January 2024.

14.

Minutes - 26 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Presented By: Chair

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting were approved as a correct record, subject to an amendment to note the attendance of Councillor Peter Hughes at the meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting were approved as a correct record, subject to an amendment to note the attendance of Councillor Peter Hughes at the meeting.

15.

Local Investment in Natural Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 523 KB

Presented By: Tristan Semple

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)  The update on the Local Investment in Natural Capital programme was received.

 

(2)  Input to the engagaement and outreach process was provided.

 

Minutes:

The board considered a report from the LINC Project Manager, Tristan Semple, to inform and update the board on the £1million Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) funded Local Investment in Natural Capital (LINC) programme that was supplemented with a presentation shared to the board by Tristan to note an overview of the programme.

 

The Government had set a goal to mobilise at least £500million in private finance to support nature’s recovery every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1billion by 2030.  The Government’s Green Finance Strategy aimed to identify LINC programmes as one of the measures to support the transition to a climate resilient, nature-positive and net-zero economy.  The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) had been selected as one of four regions in England to deliver Defra’s LINC programmes and would run until 31 March 2025, supported by a £1million grant from Defra that was secured as part of the Devolution Deal.

 

The next steps of the programme outlined that consultants would be appointed in January/Februuary 2024 to support LINC, whereby the WMCA and consultants would carry out stakeholder engagement and market research to understand the supply and demand-side opportunities for nature markets in the region.  An options appraisal and Investment in Natural Capital Strategy would be developed in April/May 2024 and would be brought to the Environment & Energy Board for review and approval.

 

Councillor Mackiewicz noted that Solihull was key to local infrastructure projects in the West Midlands, due to the council’s existing biodiversity net gain planning and provided the board with a brief verbal overview of projects undertaken in the borough such as tree planting, the creation of a new park in Shirley, biodiversity at Hope Coppice and in particular an urban biodiversity project at Kingshurst Brook where funding had been secured for de-culverting a stream and planting wildflowers in the creation of a mini park.  In response, Tristan noted that the team were working with multidisciplinary teams across all of the local authorities, as well as a range of other key delivery partners to pull the opportunities together and to identify elements of existing good practices and linkages.

 

In response to Councillor Clinton who suggested whether it be better for each local authority to be allocated some funding to develop projects within the parameters set to allow for learning and local resident involvement as opposed to selecting several projects in the region, the Executive Director for Strategy, Economy & Net Zero, Ed Cox, recognised the fantastic projects already being undertaken in the region by local authorities and noted that the role of the WMCA was to scale up those projects and that the LINC and Net Zero Neighbourhoods programmes were designed to try and find a financial model that would enable scaling up projects in the future.    

 

 

 

 

In response to Councillor Clinton who requested whether the WMCA could undertake a conference for attending on the findings and to bring experts from local universities to disseminate the information out into the higher educational  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Local Net Zero Accelerator pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Presented By: Ed Cox / Cheryl Hiles / Ayushi Vyas

Decision:

The decision to accept the Net Zero Accelerator Pilot funding offered by the Department for Energy, Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) was endorsed.

Minutes:

The board considered a report from the SMART Hub Lead, George Simms, and the Net Zero Neighbourhood Delivery Manager, Ayushi Vyas, to inform the board of the WMCA’s decision to withdraw the Net Zero Neighbourhood Innovation project from the Innovate UK funding programme, in order to be awarded a larger sum of government funding for a Net Zero Accelerator pilot alongside Manchester through the WMCA’s Devolution Deal.  Geroge noted that the new programme was about channelling investment and funding into creating net zero places and in doing so, creating much greater impact and potential for scale than individual grant schemes would do and was also highly relevant to the work of the WMCA on devolution, single settlement, energy system planning, as well as furthering the regions inclusive growth principles and investments.

 

The report was supplemented by a presentation that was shared to the board from Ayushi to provide an overview of the programme, project purpose, vision, delivery and next steps following endorsement from the board for a programme business case to be prepared and that would be forwarded to the WMCA’s Investment Board in March 2024.

 

In response to Councillor Mackiewicz who suggested whether the WMCA was looking in to either the installation of solar panels on roofs or shared battery containers for reducing fuel poverty in net zero neighbours, Ayushi and the Energy Infrastructure Lead, Cheryl Hiles, confirmed this was being considered to be built in to the scope.

 

Councillor Clinton noted the importance for working with educational establishments and stakeholders in local manufacturing in the production of solar panels and battery containers without being reliant on other countries to support the region’s economic growth and to support young people with the skills and jobs in manufacturing.   

 

In regard to Councillor Mackiewicz and Councillor Clinton’s observations, the Executive Director for Strategy, Economy & Net Zero noted that the single settlement that the WMCA was negotiating with government at the moment across a whole range of regional priorities included a large chunk of funding towards retrofit that would mean in the WMCA area a significant sum over a five year period should provide the manufacturing sector with a degree of certainty and for driving invest in the areas of manufacturing and skills.   

 

Resolved:

 

The decision to accept the Net Zero Accelerator Pilot funding offered by the Department for Energy, Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) be endorsed.

17.

Local Nature Recovery Strategy

Presented By: Mike Webb

Decision:

The item was deferred to the next meeting of the Environment & Energy Board.

Minutes:

The item was deferred to the next meeting of the Environment & Energy Board due to the conclusion of the meeting.

18.

Community Environment Fund

Presented By: Tony Thapar

Decision:

The details of the Community Environment Fund launced in October 2023 by the WMCA, that has £1m of grant funding available from The Government’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund to support communities in delivering initiatives that improve the environment and people’s lives was received and noted.  

Minutes:

The board received a presentation from the Community Environment Fund Manager, Tony Thaper, to provide an overview of the Community Environment Fund that was launched in October 2023 by the WMCA and that had £1m of grant funding available from The Government’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund to support communities in delivering initiatives that improve the environment and people’s lives. 

 

The Community Environment Fund was open to applications that was managed by the Heart of England Community Foundation and was based around five themes of natural environment, access to open space, circular economy, adaptation and environmental awareness. 

 

The Grant Assessment Panel was due to meet in January/February 2024 and then every two months thereafter where it was hoped funds could be released with awards made and to anticipate the full allocation of funding to be used when the project completed in March 2025, followed by results and learning to report back to the Environment & Energy Board in achieving the outcome of a more energised community sector that was more engaged with environmental projects and to raise environmental awareness. 

 

Tony further noted that there would be upcoming webinars in January/February 2024 to further promote the scheme and that his team were more than happy to visit applicants and potential projects to discuss further. 

 

The Chair requested for a list of the webinar dates to be forwarded for board members information and Councillor Mackiewicz noted that it would also be beneficial for board members to receive an electronic brochure with full details of the scheme for councillors to forward on to their local authority officers that Tony confirmed he would do following conclusion of the meeting.   

 

Resolved:

 

The details of the Community Environment Fund launced in October 2023 by the WMCA, that has £1m of grant funding available from The Government’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund to support communities in delivering initiatives that improve the environment and people’s lives be received and noted.     

19.

Date of Next Meeting

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

Thursday 7 March 2024.