MCFly was at the 6th meeting of the AGMA- level Environment Commission and can happily report that things finally seem to be heading in the right direction. It seems the recent selection of Greater Manchester as the Local Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) for the Built Environment has provided a bit of focus, if not (yet) any money. There were around 18 people at the meeting with apologies from Angie Robinson of the GM Chamber of Commerce and local authority councillors James Wibberly (Trafford), Catherine Piddington (Tameside) and David Molyneux (Wigan).
On the agenda was the LCEA and it was announced that the delivery plan for the Built Environment will be brought to the Environment Commission (EC) at the next meeting in March. The delivery plan is expected to be announced by April 2010 and £30,000 has been secured from the NWDA to help produce the joint delivery plan. It will consist of around 15 plans focusing on areas such as buildings, energy supply, innovation and supply chains.
Concerns were raised about the potential tension between cutting carbon and economic-driven programmes as the LCEA was run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)and not the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Another commissioner, however, saw this is as a real opportunity to 'sell the environmental message' and also help ease the burden of those who have committed to cutting their carbon.
The LCEA designation was also hoped to bring in more resources for the little-mentioned Climate Change Agency which is supposed to carry out the EC's workstreams. With regards to the workstreams, they are slowing gaining more focus and are now being narrowed down to “headline actions”.
Manchester Airport is leading on the Transport workstream with a focus on changing behaviours and was keen to hold back on setting targets just yet.
Lynda Shillaw of the Co-op added that flexible working hours and better use of technology was key to encouraging people to use public transport or limiting travel where possible. MCFly cannot confirm rumours that there will be a fund for innovation in transport.
The Energy workstream was 'asked' by the government to come up with a clear Manchester Energy Plan which would inform investment, infrastructure and demand management. Bid has been put in for money and certain commissioners mentioned that this was a real opportunity for city region benefits as well as further gov-supported projects.
The issue of measuring the performance, which is another workstream, was discussed with possibility of a small team setting up various metrics to help set targets and measure success.
ertain commissioners felt that it was best to focus on what measures needed to be reported, whilst another suggested it was best to focus on simple measure – such as energy, water, waste- which were easy to understand and also more suited to clear messages.
The Sustainable Consumption Institute (yes, the Tesco-funded one) at the University of Manchester
was also suggested as good place to start as they have carried out significant research around the topic.
Another important workstream is engaging the stakeholder and a new Policy and Programme Manager - Phil Budds - has been tasked with creating a cross-authorities dialogue and better web presence. Shillaw, who is leading on the Sustainable production and consumption workstream, also offered stakeholder strategies developed by the Co-op to help.
The Commission has the view- not unreasonably- that the LCEA designation is a real opportunity not just for Greater Manchester's low carbon economy to flourish but also for the EC to prove itself. So far, the EC seems to have recognized this and are attempting to make the most of this window of opportunity to secure resources so that they can finally start taking action.
Arwa Aburawa, Freelance Journalis
(with minor alterations by Marc Hudson- blame him for inaccuracies and sarcasm)
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