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Cllr Dennis Statement to Council Assembly on Climate Finance 23/02/2022

Mr Mayor, I wish to make a statement on climate finance ahead of our budget debate this evening.

Tackling the climate emergency is one of the biggest challenges we face, and this is why the Council has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and has passed a constitutional amendment to ensure we address climate change in all of our decision-making. We have been investing in this area for many years, and last year, we estimated that £101m was already committed and being spent through the capital programme to action supporting our efforts in this area – our investment in parks, tree-planting, cycle storage and cycle routes, recycling, community gardening projects.

Our Housing Investment Programme is also already making a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions. We have earmarked £350m for the renewal and decarbonisation of our heat networks, and our investment in retrofit projects will also enable residents to save money on their energy bills. Our new homes programme is also committed to bringing forward exemplary projects.

My Mayor, we have also been successful in attracting external funding to add to the pot. The £1.3m received through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will be spent by the end of March, with libraries and community centres across the borough benefiting from air-source heat pumps, greater insulation and the installation of solar panels.

The council’s ground-breaking water-source heat pump project, is transforming the heat networks on three of our council estates with £7m in funding from the GLA, reaching 2,175 households. And working with Veolia, we’ve attracted funding from the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) to extend South-East London Combined Heat & Power (SELCHP).

We are also levering in additional funding through planning and regeneration. A Green Buildings Fund from carbon offset payments which will support the decarbonisation of social housing, schools and community buildings, numerous CIL projects generating carbon savings, and direct S106 investment – for example, the £550,000 currently going into Bramcote Park off the Old Kent Road with its plans for a forest garden and focus on the circular economy.

We are investing in adaptation too. I am pleased to have recently signed off on the decision to move forward with the ‘Lost Peck’ flood alleviation scheme on Peckham Rye, with £1.77m from the Environment Agency, as well as a number of SUDS schemes across the borough.

And to support our ambition to become a carbon neutral borough, this year’s revenue budget makes £500,000 available on an annual basis, to establish a permanent climate change team within the council to steer our work going forward.

On top of all of this existing investment, we’ve committed an additional £25m to be spent between now and 2030 through the rolling capital programme. I’m now in a position to announce our intention to add a number of significant items to the capital programme in June.

Buildings are central to our climate strategy & action plan, with 79% of borough-wide emissions originating from buildings. We will move forward with a £1m programme to replace windows in tenanted street properties, and will build on our successful PSDS project with approximately £5.42m for a next wave of work to libraries and community centres. This will enable us to get rid of gas from key public buildings whilst maximising the generation of renewable electricity and lowering energy bills.

We will also launch our Southwark Schools Decarbonisation Programme, with two significant pilots planned for Brunswick Park and Crampton primary schools, and surveys across other facilities. There will be an initial investment of £1.1m in this work with education and air quality benefits, as well as carbon savings.

We are already investing in a programme to switch all of our street lighting over to energy-saving LEDs. Because of the immediate benefits to this programme, both to carbon savings and community safety, we will be accelerating this work with a plan to achieve 100% LEDs by 2026. This will require £2.18m.

A number of other items arising from our existing Climate Strategy & Action Plan will also be included in the June report: additional funding to deliver our new ‘Library of Things’, additional investment to support the roll out of EV infrastructure and cycle storage across the borough, and money to support a transition over to cleaner waste disposal vehicles with the council working in partnership with Veolia on this.

All in all, I expect an allocation of around £13.16m, just over half of the designated pot. This will leave funding still be allocated through the rolling programme in response to the updating of our action plan, taking account of recommendations from our Citizens’ Jury and other ongoing processes such as a new Borough Plan and the development of a fleet renewal strategy. Mr Mayor, I am proud that we were one of the first councils to declare a climate emergency, the first council to announce its intention to divest from fossil fuels, and that our climate action plan has recently been rated as the second best in London. I am proud of these further plans that we’re setting out today and will ensure that this statement is made publicly accessible on the council website.

Page last updated: 07 July 2023

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