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Portsmouth Climate Action Board

10th June 2020 - Online Zoom Meeting

Minutes

Chair:
Professor Steve Fletcher (SF)

Attendees:
Councillor Dave Ashmore (DA) – Portsmouth City Council (PCC)
Jerry Clarke (JC) (representing Mike Sellers) – Portsmouth International Port
Megan Howson (MH) – Friends of the Earth
Kelly Nash (KN) – PCC Strategy
Stephanie Lasalle (SL) – University of Portsmouth
Nick Sebley (NS) – Extinction Rebellion
Tristan Thorn (TT) – PCC Strategy (minutes)
Dominique LeTouze (DL) – PCC Public Health
Daniel Young (DY) – PCC Planning
Apologies:
Hayley Turner-McIntyre (HTM) – University of Portsmouth Students’ Union
Pam Turton (PT) – PCC Transport
Stef Nientowalski (SN) – Shaping Portsmouth
Steve Labedz – Portsmouth Education Partnership
John A’Court – Portsmouth Hospitals Trust
Mike Sellers – Portsmouth International Port
Andrew Waggott – PCC Energy Services
Jim Barker – Portsmouth Water

Welcome and update

SF welcomed the attendees to the meeting and asked each participant for a quick update.

TT provided an update on some of the work being conducted by PCC to encourage walking, cycling and physical distancing. This includes the closure of three roads around the Commercial Road area. Several other initiatives have also been bid for, including point closures and modal filters on roads across the city.

DL added that further to the road closures, street space was being reallocated to assist with queuing and physical distancing outside of shops.

MH provided an update on the work being conducted by Friends of the Earth. This included pushing for more street space and improvements to the London Road area.

NS outlined the work of a new campaign and petition called Pompey Street Space. This has been setup in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, XR Portsmouth, Green Drinks and the Portsmouth Cycle Forum. The group is lobbying for street space to be fairly allocated to pedestrians and cyclists. Other requests include a joined up cycling and pedestrian network across the city. NS stated that the Councillors and leaders of the Council are not convinced of the economic or health benefits of walking and cycling. Therefore the amount of progress in the city has been limited. Progress will be limited if walking and cycling continues to be unpleasant and dangerous, as there are no real alternatives to driving.

DY provided an update on PCC’s draft Local Plan and noted that the lockdown has cast a new light on green space in the city. Residents increasingly recognise the importance and value of green space.

DA agreed that good work was being conducted by PCC in regards to road closures and traffic calming measures. The PCC Energy Team are also working on a multimillion pound PV framework which will help to reduce carbon emissions.

JC has been communicating with the developers of the St James’ Hospital site in Milton. This has been held up by the pandemic but progress is being made for a future meeting.

KN informed the group that the cabinet is working on immediate policies to distribute street space and increase greening in the city. Regionally the recovery is being driven by the Local Resilience Forum.

SF asked how the Board could be involved in the process of change and reflection at the Council. For instance, the Board could facilitate discussions on different working practices and their impact on carbon emissions.

SL updated the board on the academic discussions which have been conducted regarding road closures and funding applications at the University. Particularly how the Council could keep the University informed about their decisions regarding transport so the organisations can work together.

SF outlined some of the adjustments which have been made at the University since lockdown was enacted. This included concerns over how many students will be returning to study in September, a portion are likely to defer to next year. Approximately 95% of staff members are now working from home, this has been a difficult transition with very little time to adjust. There a mixed benefits and costs which are still being worked out; for instance, less overseas students will reduce carbon emissions from flights. The University also published its 10 year strategy which details ambitions to become one of the world’s greenest universities and become climate-positive by 2030.

KN reminded the group that local authority budgets will be impacted by the response to Covid-19. Consequently we should be prepared to change our strategies to mitigate against funding issues.

Lessons to learn from the lockdown

JC began the discussion by noting how there was more community spirit and a concern about air pollution. One of the core areas to tackle this issue will be enforcement of the rules which improve air quality. This should be easier now there is more pressure from citizens.

MH noticed that traffic was also reduced, adding that the Council should be proactive in closing roads around schools to improve air quality and make streets safer. This could mean the Board lobbying head teachers and parents directly to garner support for these sorts of initiatives.

NS was concerned that we have now missed the window to make significant changes in the city, for instance Copnor Road is now seeing 110% traffic relative to before the lockdown. KN noted that we should not be disheartened because there is still time to make changes. The lockdown provided a catalyst for future changes and acted as a ‘window’ to refer back to.

DA added that local businesses can veto the opening of roads to people and cyclists because of a perceived threat to their income. This is despite evidence from groups like Sustrans which show prioritising people and cyclists benefits local shops and high streets. However, local bus companies have joined up their network to create a more seamless system.

DL stated that the legislation calls for socially distanced streets, however this is a struggle because the legal minimum width of a pavement is only 1.5m. The Climate Board and University should therefore rapidly evaluate how the lockdown is affecting air quality and the social acceptance for ongoing changes.

Conclusions

The steps taken to alleviate the risks posed by Covid-19 have also created co-benefits for air quality, community cohesion, health and wellbeing. These provided a brief window into what the city could look like with reduced traffic.

While some members of the Board were disappointed by the response from the Council, there is still time to build on the changes observed during lockdown.

Actions

TT and SF to look at how the University and Council can work together to identify opportunities for collaboration in research.

Approval of the first-phase strategy

TT provided a brief overview of the draft first-phase strategy caveating that the Board will need to be adaptable due to the lockdown and budget restrictions. The strategy has four streams looking at climate literacy, a climate pledge, a citizens’ assembly and a carbon audit. The streams of the strategy are interrelated and will all work towards creating a carbon neutral city by 2030.

Conclusions

No objections were raised or recorded. Comments can still be made to the Google Doc or emailed to TT.

Actions

Final comments or amendments to the strategy will need to be emailed to TT by 29th June, the strategy will then be approved.

Confirmation of the new climate board logo

TT presented the winner of the climate board logo competition. The design was chosen because it was professionally designed and adaptable to multiple uses on social media, email signatures and large-scale advertising. This not only makes for an attractive and robust logo but also means the board will not need to pay for additional work to enhance the logo.

Conclusions

The confirmed Climate Board logo will now be used for future publications, events and branding.

Actions

TT and SF to work on developing a design guide for when and how the board will use the logo.

Approval of the crowdfunding strategy

TT presented the crowd funding strategy. It was proposed that the board use the Crowdfunder platform to advertise and raise money for projects which progress the strategy. The Board should also use Portsmouth City Council as the accountable body for funding and receiving donations for the immediate future.

TT noted that the crowd funding strategy may be delayed or adjusted due to the lockdown restrictions.
SF also made clear that funding will be acquired through contributions from board members.

Conclusions

The board approved the crowd funding strategy and raised no objections.

Actions

TT and SF to develop an implementation plan and adjust the strategy to meet the restrictions caused by the lockdown.

Climate Board website update

NS outlined the progress which has been made on the new climate board website. The draft website shows a positive vision of Portsmouth in 2030 by presenting the co-benefits of reducing emissions. These co-benefits include warmer homes and lower energy bills. The website therefore focuses on an abundant public realm, as opposed to austere individual actions. NS is also looking for more Portsmouth specific projects and actions which can be used for the website. There is also a page showing all members of the board which will require additional information from members.

NS asked members to review the final draft of the website once it is completed. KN also suggested that the content is reviewed by communications specialists from member’s organisations.

Conclusions

The website will provide a positive vision of how Portsmouth could look in 2030 if we take our responsibility to reduce carbon emissions seriously.

Actions

NS to share a link to the draft website with all board members.

All members to review the content of the website and to get further support from colleagues in communications if possible.

Portsmouth climate risks report update

TT presented the draft Portsmouth Climate Change Risk Report. The report consists of four sections on the built environment, natural environment, residents and the economy. While most risk reports focus on the most likely scenario, this report looks at the low probability-high impact scenarios. The report was written during the first two weeks of lockdown therefore the perception of risk, and the ability to respond, will have changed over the last few months. Consequently, some amendments will need to be made. It will also be important to emphasise that the described risks may happen and there is still uncertainty in the forecasts.

Conclusions

The board members were positive about the progress made on the climate risk report. SF requested that the report also be circulated with peers at the University to review.

Actions

TT to make further amendments to the Climate Risk Report and circulate the final draft with peers at the University and Council from 22nd June.