Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall
Contact: Ms. Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services officer
Apologies for an inability to attend were received from Councillors Hutchinson and Newton.
The minutes of the meeting of 10th November were taken as read and signed as correct. It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st December.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were reported.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Ian Campbell, Director of Service Operations at Translink, to the meeting. Mr Campbell thanked the chairperson and addressed the Committee meeting highlighting that the purpose of the presentation was to highlight Translink’s plans for decarbonising public transport in Northern Ireland. He advised the members of the Committee that there were a number of reasons why transport must be decarbonised; these included the climate crisis, the energy consumption of the current fleet, the health impact of poor air quality and economic drivers to meet the current cost of living crisis – public transport provided an affordable option for the public. He advised them that the public transport levels were back up to 85% of the pre covid delivery. He went on to outline what the modal shift to public transport (people choosing to give up their cars) along with decarbonisation would mean for Northern Ireland in terms of support for a number of common strategies the decreased emissions targets, supported the agenda for doing more with less of our natural resources and supporting the green growth economy by creating green jobs in green technology infrastructure and fleet. He said that Translink worked collaboratively to support the Green agenda and they played an active role in the Climate commission.
Mr Campbell outlined Translink’s plans to reach zero emission targets as set out in their climate positive strategy. He explained their phased approach from the pilot of 3 Hydrogen buses that went live in December 2020 to the 80 Electric buses and 20 Hydrogen for Belfast which went live in March 2022. He advised the Committee that the current phase was incorporating a new Foyle Metro Electric Fleet and that would go live in Summer 2023. Phase 3 was for 100 electric buses for Ulster Bus and Metro and he said it was planned that these would go live in August 2024. He added that Translink had created 2 green electric vehicle charging points at Milewater Road and the bus depot in the Short Strand. He went on to outline how their changes had impacted their carbon emissions explaining that Belfast had the 4th largest zero emissions bus fleet in the UK and Ireland.
He said that rail was a bit more challenging but they did see the value in investing in the rail service and said they were undertaking a detailed feasibility study to look at electrifying the rail network in Northern Ireland. He highlighted the collaborative working between the governments and SEUPB. He concluded his presentation by highlighting what was needed to ensure their work towards zero emissions was successful, these included support form local and central government to ensure the modal shift required along with the other steps outlined.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Campbell for his comprehensive presentation.
A member asked Mr Campbell how funding cuts would impact the work going forward. He said that it was given Translink real challenges, but they were working with the Departments who had been supportive and wanted to see ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Gary McRae, Head of Electric Mobility for Urban Foresight, to the meeting. Mr McRae thanked members of the Committee for the opportunity to present the update on the EV strategy for Northern Ireland. He said they were a consultancy based in Scotland who had been working with electric vehicle infrastructure for around 12 years, working closely with local authorities. He outlined the framework for the work that they were doing with Belfast City Council and the challenges that were often faced. He said there were 3 key areas to transition; vehicles, infrastructure and people and highlighted there was quite a lot to be done to make the transition smooth. Those 3 things needed to grow simultaneously to make sure the transition was smooth. They used these 3 themes as a framework to help develop the strategy for Belfast. He discussed the framework that had been created for Belfast City Council and highlighted the steps that would be taken to implement the smooth transition, including not only areas that a city council had control over but also the areas that they would have indirect control.
He went on to outline their approach to the strategy along with the implementation plan. He added that they were engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the policy sat within the wider context of the plans for Belfast. He outlined the vehicle sectors that were included in the strategy and said that they started with local authority fleets to ensure that the city led by example. He said that bikes, trucks, buses and micro mobility devices were not included in the strategy due to the type of infrastructure they required but they would still be considered throughout the process. Mr McRae showed an example of what the mapping would look like for the Council with the long term plan to 2045 and explained that this would be broken into realistic chunks to ensure targets could be met by 2030. He outlined the AST (Area, Site Technology) model that they would use to plan the infrastructure and showed the heat maps they would developing to see what was possible for each area of the city. He showed a number of examples of the types of on street parking that could be used and also the positioning of charge points at public car parks and discussed how they built in scope for the development in technology. He said there were a number of business model options that local authorities could use, including looking to private investors as well as grant schemes. He concluded his presentation by outlining the challenges and opportunities for the city of Belfast.
Members of the Committee raised a number of queries around the presentation, including the use of council owned carparks to install EV charging points and asked if this would have a detrimental impact on the revenue generated at these spaces. Mr McRae said these queries would be addressed throughout the duration of the strategy process ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The Chairperson welcomed Matt Badic, senior consultant at Anthesis, to the meeting. Mr Babic thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present to them. He said that Anthesis was the Sustainability Activator. They were the largest group of dedicated sustainability experts in the world. He continued that Anthesis had significant experience supporting local authorities who had declared a climate emergency and were working towards net zero. He continued that they were the developers of the SCATTER tool, which was free to use for all local authorities. He added that they had also performed bespoke support services in response to the climate emergency with 40 cities and local authorities over the last two years. He outlined the objectives of the project with Belfast and other Council’s in Northern Ireland and then went on to explain the proposed project outcomes including the report scope and the report insights. He explained area based insetting to the Members of the Committee and said that the aim was to address any barriers that traditional offsetting could present. He updated the Committee on the business survey that they had launched with questions on current approaches, attitudes and appetites to offsetting. He explained that it was a 10 minute survey and that, whilst the audience was primarily businesses, it could also be shared more widely. This would allow them to gauge market demand and potential partners for a local scheme.
The Committee noted the contents of the presentation and the Chairperson thanked Mr Babic for attending.
The Committee considered the undernoted report.
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this report is to update Members on Belfast City Council’s Shared Island Development Fund supported projects which are progressing in partnership with Dublin City Council and Cork City Council.
2.1 The Members of the Committee are asked to:
i Note that Belfast, represented by Belfast City Council, has been liaising with both Dublin City Council and Cork City Council in the development of projects under the Shared Island Development Fund.
ii Projects must be led by a Local Authority from the South of Ireland, working in partnership with a Local Authority from Northern Ireland.
iii Three projects have been funded to date through the Shared Island Development Fund:
· Dublin/Belfast Circular Economy Initiative (€250k)
· Cork/Belfast Climate and Docklands Initiative (€90k)
· Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor Initiative (€150k)
iv A detailed report on the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor Initiative will be provided separately from this report.
v Further opportunities through the Shared Island Community Climate Action Programme and Creative Ireland programme are being explored at present with contacts in Dublin, Cork and Galway, with further updates to be provided should these opportunities progress to become funded projects.
vi A further scheme to support EV charging for sports clubs is currently open with expressions of interest to be presented through governing bodies. This process is taking place independently of the Local Authority to Local Authority projects referred to above, however is relevant to the development of the Belfast EVI Strategy and ongoing discussions on the introduction of additional EV charging points in the city.
3.0 Main report
3.2 Belfast City Council has been liaising with both Dublin City Council and Cork City Council in the development of projects under the Shared Island Development Fund. Projects must be led by a Local Authority from the South of Ireland, working in partnership with a Local Authority from Northern Ireland. Three projects have been funded to date through the Shared Island Development Fund:
1. Dublin/Belfast Circular Economy Initiative (€250k)
2. Cork/Belfast Climate and Docklands Initiative (€90k)
3. Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor Initiative (€150k)
These projects are described in more detail below.
Dublin and Belfast Circular Economy initiative
3.3 Dublin City Council in partnership with Belfast City Council (BCC), are striving to make their respective cities leaders in the transition to a circular economy. The successful proposal under the Shared Island Fund will involve undertaking a feasibility assessment to enable the development of capital projects in Dublin and Belfast that support the expansion of the circular economy island wide leading to a Connected Circular Economy. At present, Dublin and Belfast are developing their circular economy ecosystems and have established strengths and partnerships that will contribute to identifying challenges and opportunities to be explored and addressed in the feasibility assessment.
3.4 The project aims to develop an implementation plan for realising a Connected Circular Economy that builds on the existing strengths of ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The members of the Committee considered the undernoted report
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of the report is to update Members of the Committee, following the successful award of funding for the Horizon 2020 EU ‘UPSURGE’ project, which Members of People & Communities Committee initially approved at their August 2020 Committee meeting.
2.1 The Committee is asked to note the update on the UPSURGE project.
- Note the update on the development of the UPSURGE main demonstrator site at Lower Botanic Gardens is given, as well as an overview of the work completed to date to include a codesign process which has resulted in an early concept plan for the site which is now at detailed design stages for the first phase.
- Note that the first phase i.e. the research gardens to be used by QUB and associated paths and infrastructure will be going on site in late March 2023. At the same time a series of community engagement initiatives will take place including a survey, storyboards on site and a collaborative workshop that will shape the final design for the community gardens.
3.0 Main report
3.1 Members are reminded that the ‘UPSURGE Project’ focuses on testing nature-based solutions, to environmental issues in partnership with four other EU cities, with the aim of sharing learning and good practice.
3.2 Following approval by Members of P&C Committee, in August 2020, the project utilises the Lower Botanical Gardens site, close to Queens University Physical Education Centre (PEC). The aim of the project is to develop a demonstrator site to test different nature-based solutions and support learning on how adaptive practices and management of green spaces in the city can support pollution alleviation, citizen health and climate resilience. Residents of Belfast will benefit from environmental and scientific testing and learning, where soil enhancement, food production and testing can be undertaken, with the outcome being to increase learning and resilience across the city. The project will help deliver on the Belfast Resilience Strategy which aims to transition the city to an inclusive, net-zero emissions, climate resilient economy in a generation.
3.3 The UPSURGE project was co-designed by the Council in conjunction with QUB staff. The proposed works are shown in the concept drawing at Appendix 1. Members are asked to note that the works are focused towards the top end of the site near the PEC and allows the potential for other developments on the site in the future subject to budget being secured. Members are asked to note that works will commence this month.
KPIs for the project
3.4 One of the key aims of the project is to monitor and test nature based solutions being applied to the site. The KPIs for the project include social-economic diversity, gender, soil contamination, urban heat island effect, ecosystem connectivity, mobility, air quality and health. Given the opportunity to build evidence and learning. The project team and partners see opportunities to apply learning and knowledge ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The Committee agreed to invite Visit Belfast to a future meeting of the Committee to present on sustainable tourism.