Each day during the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai, I am writing a new article on this website and on my Facebook Profile and Facebook Page. I am telling the real-life story with real-world examples of how myself and the South Down Alliance team on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are leading the fight against Climate Change in South Down.
During Covid in 2020, most of our local Councillors were house-bound like everyone else. So I wrote a series of 15 proposals to Councillors from all parties highlighting how we could save our ratepayers millions of pounds while we were waiting for management to come forward with money-saving proposals to our first climate change motion and our second direction to Council Management on Climate Change. As Councillors we housebound by COVID I got a lot of feed-back and a very positive response from all parties in Council. Here are the first ten I wrote;
- COPY WEST SUFFOLK – EARN MILLIONS FROM COUNCIL-OWNED PV FARMS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Cash-flow positive from day one. We have many acres of grid-connected waste land like our old Council dumps – We only need to set targets for management. I suggest £100,000 by 2022, £500,000 by 2025 and £1 Million by 2030.
- See my detailed proposal here COPY WEST SUFFOLK
- SEE LINK to one of many in WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL
- SEE LINK TO WARRINGTON
- EARN MILLIONS IN RATES & INCOME FROM ENERGY STORAGE
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Can deliver £3 million in extra rent and rates. This would require us
- to Instruct management to appoint a senior manager to pro-actively sell the Council to a range of possible partners like NIENetworks, NI Power, ESB etc
- Talk to our planning team about the need to presume the permissibility of an any energy storage project, especially in Camlough where permission had been given before the project was abandoned 90% complete because of ‘Troubles’ in 1972.
- See my detailed proposalEARN MILLIONS IN RATES & INCOME from ENERGY STORAGE
- SEE THIS LINK TO SOMERSET COUNCIL
- SEE THIS LINK WICKLOW COUNCIL – getting 3 million euro pa in rates
- PUT CLIMATE CHANGE INTO PLANNING POLICY RAISING MILLIONS IN RATES FROM WIND FARMS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Firstly we must instruct our Council planning team that they must adopt our Council policy of ‘Climate Change Emergency’ to start getting results. As our Chief Planner at our recent special Council meeting to discuss the Hilltown windfarm proposal told Councillors, planners cannot consider climate change emergency when looking at applications for renewables if not written into policy. Secondly, we must set a revenue target for the planning department and for the Chief Executive based on this emergency. I suggest a target of 10% of rates to be gleaned from wind farms alone by 2025. A short term target should also be set with an easy to achieve figure of £1,500,000 by 2022/23. Thirdly we have an option for Council to develop 2 wind farms of its own to deliver the same overall income.
- See my detailed proposal here setting a target
- SEE HOW FAR WE LAG BEHIND OTHER RURAL COUNCILS IN N.I. FoI request NI Dept of Finance
- ELIMINATING OUR £913,894 ELECTRICITY BILL USING ACTIVE & HEATHLY DEPT CARPARKS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Council carparks sit outside our energy-hungry buildings. Using our carparks to power our buildings like Councils in GB should be cash-flow positive from day 1 and will allow us to start planning for battery storage and EV charging on all Council properties.
- See my detailed proposal Wipe out our million pound annual electricity bill and make a profit from day 1
- See Bentley car factory here
- See the Hadden leisure centre here
- See Aviva headquarters in Ipswich here
- £65 MILLION pa MARKET FOR COUNCIL USING COUNCIL-OWNED PUBLIC CARPARKS LIKE DUNDEE COUNCIL
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ The EV charging market in Newry Mourne and Down will exceed £65,000,000 per annum. Council can carve out a big share of this through our control of 90% of public parking spaces in NM&D. We must 1. direct Council management to proactively work with NIE Networks to dramatically increase our grid capacity as they have done in Tyrone, Derry and Antrim many people will be able to charge their cars at home. 2. Make NM&D planning regs favourable to PV so local residents can charge their cars at home free. 3. Many people live in terraced or multi-unit housing and tourists will need to charge their cars too. Our ERT car-parks are ideally situation to provide this service.
- See detailed document here Use our public car parks to boost rates and revenues
- Look at Dundee’s remarkable charging facilities here – our Council could profitably do this too
- WIPE OUT £1 MILLION pa DEISEL COSTS BY TRANSITIONING OUR FLEET TO ELECTRIC NOW LIKE CORK, DUNDEE, MANCHESTER OR MANY OTHER COUNCILS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ A joined up approach to our non-refuse fleet of vehicles and the depots they operate out of would allow us to transition to much lower costs. Capital expenditure on EV’s in place of ICE vehicles with resultant lower expenditures on fuel is cheaper for Council. But if we generate and store our own power at or near fleet depots, we can make even bigger gains. Maintenance, tax and long-term cost of ownership is also cheaper for EV’s. (ICE=Internal Combustion Engine) NOTE WHEN I READ THIS MOST GB COUNCILS WERE NOT USING ELECTRIC BIN LORRIES – BUT THIS HAS CHANGED – SO OUR ENTIRE COUNCIL FLEET COULD BE ELECTRIC NOW
- £10 MILLION+ FOR SUSTAINABLE DEA PLANNING – USING SECTION COUNCIL’s 76 POWERS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Councillors voted for a section 76 levy proposal for the Eastern Distributor Road Project. All other parts of Ireland and GB use their planning powers to ensure big developers contribute towards the costs of key infrastructure. It was recorded at a full Council meeting chaired by Willie Clarke over 2 years ago and there were no dissenting voices. We need management to accelerate this action and use it as a model for all other parts of our Council. This can be used as a pilot project for similar projects in all DEA’s.
- A clear comparison between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on page 34 of report from N.I. Assembly. http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/globalassets/documents/raise/publications/2016/environment/1316.pdf
- Link to actual legislation here; https://www.legislation.gov.uk/nia/2011/25/section/76
- See my detailed proposal here Section 76 powers
- INCREASE RATES BASE – REMOVE PLANNING BLOCKS ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ We urgently need to remove administrate and policy blocks on communities in Newry Mourne and Down bringing forward really sustainable developments. In RoI any new house resident has an energy cost at least £1000pa less than in a new house in Northern Ireland. More valuable houses pay higher rates. We must change policy now and stop pandering to special interests.
- 200-house zero energy (and zero energy bills) in Wales with explanation of how built here; https://youtu.be/uI7wxNtrorQ Mix of affordable, including co-ownership, local authority ‘Homebuy’, social and open market. See ownership options here https://poblliving.co.uk/ways-to-buy/Sutton Borough Council and The Peabody Trust. Mix of private, social and private rental properties – BedZED https://www.bioregional.com/projects-and-services/case-studies/bedzed-the-uks-first-large-scale-eco-village and detailed video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60es4dTm8Q4Norwich Council Housing social housing and affordable homes with energy bills of about £150 per year http://www.mikhailriches.com/project/goldsmith-street/#text very similar design to ‘BEDZED’600 house zero-energy build in York https://tinyurl.com/y4cr3uuu 60% of the homes set for market sale in order to cross-subsidise 40% affordable housing, half of which will be for social rent. Some plots are also being allocated for self-build homes and a community land trust co-housing project. Generous green “ginnels” run between the rows of homes and around the edges of the developments providing communal areas to grow food. Every house will come with a bike shed and be fitted with electric charging point. See Council web-site here https://www.york.gov.uk/news/article/373/uk-s-largest-zero-carbon-development-plans-submitted-for-consent
- see my detailed document here sustainable development in planning increasing house values
- TARGET £1 MILLION SAVINGS pa BY REACTIVATING COUNCIL’S ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ This is no time to stop our energy efficiency program. Councillors must insist that a real empowered team led by a senior manager be created as in West Suffolk to deliver it. Senior management including the Chief Executive need to be held accountable for delivering a minimum £1 million + savings or addition revenues per annum by 2023/24.
- Link to last energy efficiency report in 2017 LAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY REPORT IN OUR COUNCIL 2017
- Links to County Louth, County Cavan and many other Councils at this website
- Link to my detailed document here bring back energy efficiency program stopped in 2017
- STOP LOSING £60 TO £100 MILLION POUNDS ON SUBSTANDARD BUILDINGS
Cost to Council = ‘NIL’ Council is set to lose up to £100,000,000 (one hundred million pounds nominal value) on unneeded energy expenditure over the lifetimes of its newest building projects. We must insist that management obey the law. They must deliver only NZEB standard building projects that implement the European Directive. We must direct them to reverse the £63 million-pound errors they have made so far retrofitting our worst buildings with modern green heat and power systems. This would be cash flow positive from day 1.
- Link to my detailed proposal here Stop building bad buildings and retrofit our worst mistakes
- Link to what many Councils are doing in the UK to save millions on buildings energy