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No plans yet on £1.6m earmarked for climate spending in Vale

MORE than £1.6 million has been earmarked for spending on climate policies in the Vale of Glamorgan.

But bosses at Vale of Glamorgan council have not decided yet how to spend this money allocated for its Project Zero climate action plan.

The council declared a climate emergency in summer 2019, pledging to reduce carbon emissions and prepare the Vale for the effects of climate change like increased flooding.

Amid dire warnings from scientists that many impacts of global warming are now “irreversible”, the council will mention the climate in cabinet reports and consider spending options. But some councillors have called for more to be done.

The Vale council has put aside more than £1.6 million in reserves to spend on Project Zero, although it’s unclear how this money will be spent. A recent cabinet report said: “There are currently no commitments for this reserve.”

Earlier this week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a landmark report warning that more than 40 per cent of the world’s population are highly vulnerable to climate change, with growing numbers of people already dying from extreme heat.

The report called for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, limiting global warming.

According to Plaid Cymru Councillor Ian Johnson, the Vale council is still “working out its aims”.

He said: “Local councils and other anchor organisations have a major role to play in tackling climate change, through their own actions and setting policies and an example for others to follow.

“At the moment, though, it seems that the Vale is still working out its aims, and what can be done, nearly three years after the council first declared a climate emergency.

“I’m worried that there’s a lot of talk about small wins, but that gains from well-meaning policy will be ignored when major planning applications completely against these policies, such as Model Farm, are put in front of the council.”

A new report has explored in detail carbon emissions which the Vale council is responsible for — however the council has not published its findings in full. It found most emissions come from the wider supply chain, while a portion comes from electricity and heating needs.

The report, sent to the Welsh Government in autumn last year, details the carbon emissions related to different council activities, how to collect better emissions data in future, proposals on how to budget for any climate-related spending, and what action has already been taken.

The method used by Welsh councils for estimating how much carbon dioxide they emit splits the data into three groups: direct emissions, indirect emissions, and ‘scope three’ emissions related to goods and services purchased by the council from the wider supply chain.

At the Vale council, 38 per cent of direct and indirect emissions come from grid electricity, 35 per cent from gas, and 20 per cent from council vehicles and travelling. However, direct and indirect emissions only made up 20 per cent of the council’s overall emissions, with scope three emissions making up 80 per cent of the total.

In future the plan is for public sector organisations in Wales to report each year on any progress in reducing carbon emissions. This will likely happen in the summer or autumn, reporting on data from the previous year.

Some action is being taken by the Vale council, including trialling air source heat pumps in council housing and retrofitting homes to improve their insulation and energy efficiency. Construction standards are also improving in Wales, with new rules on including solar panels and using sustainable building materials affecting recently built homes in Barry and Penarth.

Several new schools are also being built across the Vale, with these being low carbon design including renewable energy generation on site and energy efficient designs. Council vehicles running on diesel are also gradually being replaced by electric vehicles.

The former coal power station at Aberthaw will likely be purchased by the Cardiff Capital Region group of councils, of which the Vale council is a member, for a renewable energy hub. It’s unclear whether this will mean tidal energy or offshore wind, but council bosses welcomed the investment during a cabinet meeting on Monday, February 28.

Deputy leader Lis Burnett said: “The traditional power station produced a lot of very good quality local jobs, and that’s not to be sniffed at. Hopefully the ideas going forward will similarly produce good quality local jobs, but also contribute in a sizeable way to achieving a carbon neutral status for the Vale of Glamorgan and the region as a whole.”

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