Cllr Hywel Williams, Deputy Leader (representing Cllr Young);
Zak Shell, Head of Operations - Community Services;
Michael Jenkins - Team Leader Sustainable Development
Ieuan Sherwood - Group Manager - Economy, Natural Resources & Sustainability
Denis Richard, Head of Major Programmes -Energy Systems Catapult
Paul Smith, Regional Development Manager Wales - Energy Systems Catapult
The Chairperson welcomed the invitees to the meeting and thanked the external invitees for making the journey to be able to attend the Committee.
The Head of Operations – Community Services presented a report to the Committee to update members on the progress being made to deliver the Bridgend Local Area Energy Strategy and Smart Energy Plan. He reminded members that participation in the SSH programme was approved by Cabinet on the 3rd February 2015 and Bridgend were one of three Local Authorities taking part in the pilot project.
The Cabinet Member for Communities thanked the representatives from Energy Systems Catapult for attending the meeting and for their invaluable contribution to the project so far. He stated that Bridgend were the only Local Authority to have produced a Local Area Energy Strategy. He added that there would be future work with Bridgend College on developing apprenticeship programmes and there would also be future collaboration with Bury and Newcastle Local Authorities who were also taking part in the pilot programme
In response to members concerns around the scheme being over-ambitious, officers responded that the scheme would require public buy-in but consumers would be given a choice and the public would not be forced to make changes to their heating systems and that there were many other ways that would not be costly that they could make a difference.
A member raised the issue that the Caerau Mine water Heat Scheme may be a hard sell to the public as some residents in Caerau were still suffering the consequences of their properties being insulated previously where they experienced lots of problems with the workmanship that caused damp to their properties. The contractor carrying out the work went into liquidation leaving no redress for the affected properties. The officer responded to say that lessons had been learned and a different approach would be taken this time towards quality control.
The Head of Operations stated that it was vital that everyone who was able to, should make a difference in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. BCBC being a large public body were in a position to lead the way and encourage the public to participate also.
Some members expressed concerns whether this was best use of funds at a time where the Authority were having to make unfavourable cuts in times of austerity.
The Cabinet Member Communities replied that the Authority does need to invest in electricity storage and future proof the way people heat their homes. He added that people are open to change if they understand the opportunities available to them and are aware of how they are protecting the planet for future generations.
A member asked if the Authority were sharing best practice with the other 2 Local Authorities involved in the pilot scheme. The Officer responded that monthly reviews were undertaken with each of the Local Authorities involved.
Members recommended that a pre-council briefing is delivered to all members of the Council as this issue affects all members and their constituents.