- Meeting of Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee, Tuesday 17th July 2018 10.00 am (Item 8.)
Members will review the key challenges, opportunities and emerging priorities in the draft Energy Strategy and will examine the national context and local approach to meeting the increasing energy demands of the county. Members will have an opportunity to provide their views on the emerging priorities and inform the action plan and implementation of the strategy.
· Bill Chapple, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment
· Ed Barlow, Head of Energy and Resources
The Chairman welcomed the following contributors to the meeting:
- Bill Chapple, Cabinet Member for Planning and
- Ed Barlow, Head of Energy and Resources
Mr Chapple introduced the item with a contextual overview, background to the need for a new strategy, some of the high level key challenges the county faced in relation to energy supply and demand, the opportunities to mitigate some of these and the recent ( and continuously evolving) government policy changes.
Mr Chapple highlighted that they were in the early stages of developing the strategy and welcomed the Committee’s views on the emerging priorities. The full overview can be viewed on the webcast.
Mr Barlow, then presented an overview of the key areas for discussion (see presentation slides and webcast for further information).
The following areas were highlighted during the presentation:
- Grid Capacity: Bucks had a high number of the grid operators within the County – three in total. This created an issue with three sets of processes, maps, people to deal with etc. A key issue was capacity; in many of the areas grid capacity was full. There was a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Bid which was hoped would be able to be used to alleviate capacity around Aylesbury with the planned growth.
- Renewable Generation Sources in Bucks: Members heard that Bucks produced significant renewable electricity from the Energy from Waste (EfW) facility, which qualified as renewable generation. The biggest local renewable source was Landfill Gas. Overall, there was sufficient local renewable generation to 27% of local demand which was in line with the government target of 30% by 2020. The challenge was that over time as landfill reduced we would find it hard to meet this target going forward.
- Increasing Cost of Energy: Bucks County Council’s costs for estate and street lighting would significantly rise. Street lighting was the biggest source of cost of energy. Members heard how LED lighting was vital, and the challenge was that the price of energy was going up quicker than we could install them.
- Heat Networks: These would only work in high density housing areas. These would produce low carbon heat. These would be ideal to consider as part of planning for new housing developments, particularly where they are near to industrial sites where waste heat might be used.
- EV Charging Requirements: Members heard that Bucks had limited charging infrastructure. It was discussed how planning conditions were expected to change to require new houses to have charging points installed. Members heard how public transport could be another area to explore. They heard how Milton Keynes already had electric bus routes and Oxford and Cambridge were starting trials. Wider use of electronic vehicles would have wider benefits of reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.
- Challenges and Opportunities: The key challenges and opportunities were highlighted to Members – see the slides for a table summary.
Member questions raised the following:
- Roles and responsibilities: Members asked who was responsible and who would be driving this strategy and the work within it. Members heard how there was little statutory responsibility on the County Council around energy, nonetheless, it had an important role in addressing the issues. It was a LEP process and the LEP would be adopting the strategy. Member heard how roundtable events were being held to get buy in of key stakeholders. It was recognised that we needed to understand more the role of the LEPS, energy companies, and other stakeholders around how to drive this forward – growth would be coming and demand would grow.
- The role of regional hubs: Members asked what the purpose and role of regional hubs would be. They were told that they would work through the LEPs to deliver local energy projects. There would be 5 hubs. The purpose was for them to pick up on the common themes within local area strategies and use their resources and deliver projects that would benefit across the areas. They would be able to bid for funding through joined up projects with other areas.
- How the Council Influencing Government policy:
Members heard that there was a clear need for lobbying and a heightened awareness around more lobbying on the energy side. For example, Mr Chapple said he would be pushing against the government introducing an "Incineration Tax", this would go against the logic behind Gratemoor and significantly undermine the return and provision of energy from Gratemoor, which provided 37% of the renewable electricity in the County and gets rid of our waste.
- Value for Money and Income Generation: Members heard that the use of batteries for storing energy was a key area to be explored further. Having the batteries ourselves was seen as too high risk, however, the Council could lease land to developers to put the batteries on and generate income that way.
The Committee agreed it would have an update in 6 months to consider how this work had progressed.
Members requested the presentation be shared.
ACTION: Ms K Wager
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member and Mr Barlow for their presentation.