Wednesday 16 January 2013

Cllr Powney promises to investigate 'Low Carbon Zone' proposal

Could it be Brent or Wembley next?
 Making a presentation on Monday the the Brent Executive,  Ken  Montague, Secretary of Brent Campaign Against Climate Change, agreed with the Green Charter Annual Monitoring Report's comment that  while “there is progress in all seven areas of work” there was “room for improvement over the next year”. In particular he sought to bring to the Executive’s attention proposals jointly being developed by BCaCC and Brent Friends of the Earth as an outcome of their Community Briefing public meeting on 21 November, which council leader Muhammed Butt attended. A report  of the meeting has  been circulated to Councillors.

The purpose of the Community Briefing meeting, which was to make local community leaders aware of the rapid depletion of the Arctic ice cap and its affect on weather patterns around the world. This had an indirect impact on people in Brent as many members of the local community have friends and families in parts of the world being devastated by floods, droughts and fires. It was also having a direct impact through its effect on the price and quality of food.

Ken addressed  two of the three proposals that came out of the briefing meeting, which aimed to develop a community response. The first of these was about reaching out to the local community to increase awareness of the seriousness and urgency of the need to mitigate climate change. The aim was to enhance and strengthen the work of the Sustainability Forum and the Brent Climate Change Steering Group, especially its Residents’ Steering Group. This meant sending speakers to meetings of tenants’ and residents’ associations, faith groups, trade unions, etc, and on occasion booking rooms for meetings. The first request to the Executive was therefore that those organisations like Brent CaCC and Brent FoE who were identified as Green Champions under the Brent Climate Change Strategy should have use of Council premises, including public libraries, free of charge.

Monatgue went on to draw the Executive’s attention to a proposal in the early stages of development by BCaCC and Brent FoE which would require support from the Council, advice from council officers, and the involvement of specific councillors. This was for a pilot scheme to establish a Low Carbon Zone in an area of the borough still to be identified in consultation with the Council. A Low Carbon Zone involved concentrating existing agencies on the area identified in order to generate awareness of the advantages to tenants and residents of implementing measures for energy conservation and the sourcing of power from renewables, to provide advice and guidance and facilitate discount buying, and to access funding to install insulation, double glazing and combined heat and power boilers. The “existing agencies” could include the Council, private companies, campaign groups including ourselves and Transition Town, the College of North West London, and the Brent TUC.

Central to the proposal was the possibility of accessing significant funds for these purposes from the Department of Energy and Climate Change under the Green New Deal. By way of an example he mentioned that a Community Interest Company in Barnet, “Energise Barnet”,LINK  was working with the Council in making a £200 million bid. A meeting of the Brent Residents’ Steering Group and council officers was being held on 22nd January to prepare a bid to DEC but this could only go ahead once the Council had decided whether to apply as a “Large Scale Green Deal Provider”, as a Marketing Partner” or a “Small Scale Green Deal Provider”. The second request to the executive was therefore that it make a decision on the form of its application in order to facilitate an appropriate bid to DEC being decided at the meeting on 22 January.

Responding, lead member for the environment  Cllr James Powney promised to designate an officer to investigate the proposal. 

Declaration of interest:  I am Chair of Brent Campaign Against Climate Change

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