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Our response to the main priorities from our carbon reduction survey

In July 2019, we surveyed people who live or work in the borough about what they felt our carbon reduction priorities should be.

Here are our responses to the top three priorities from that survey.

Top three priorities from the carbon reduction survey

Our respondents wanted us to prioritise:

  • promoting green infrastructure, including trees
  • using planning policy to make sure new developments are carbon neutral
  • divesting the pension fund from carbon-intensive investments.

Promote green infrastructure, including trees – our response

We recognise the many benefits to increasing the number of trees in an urban environment. The biggest constraint we face is the lack of extra funding for council officer time to work through issues that relate to trees in an urban environment. Such issues include:

  • avoiding potential accessibility issues or trip hazards caused by roots affecting pavements
  • issues with home-owners and residents on potential root damage, subsidence and light issues.

However, we have a productive partnership with Street Trees for Living and have been accessing funding for planting trees. 

Use planning policy to make sure new developments are carbon neutral – our response

As a local planning authority, we have a statutory duty to support the delivery of sustainable development. This includes contributing proactively to meeting national and international climate commitments. We are currently reviewing our planning policies and compiling technical evidence to help us prepare a new local plan for Lewisham. This is a timely opportunity to assess our strategic planning framework in the light of the new net-zero carbon target for the UK, as well as the latest national and regional planning policy and guidance.

The new local plan will reflect a renewed emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation and positively respond to our climate emergency declaration. It will consider carbon reduction targets based on the latest available local evidence. It will also explore opportunities for enhancing the provision of green infrastructure across the borough, including new developments.

We anticipate that a draft local plan will be published for public consultation in 2020. To keep informed of the latest news on the local plan, email planning.policy@lewisham.gov.uk and ask to be added to our consultation database.

Divest the pension fund from carbon-intensive investments – our response

The Pension Investment Committee has commissioned an independent carbon footprint analysis of our equity holdings, which make up just over half of the fund’s assets. The results of this analysis were delivered at the start of September 2019. Officers are now working with the fund’s advisers to interpret those results and use them to direct next steps.

Councillors recently met with four low-carbon equity fund managers to understand the types of mandates available in the market, with the expectation that we will transition some, or all, of our existing equity mandates into low carbon equivalents in early to mid-2020.

Our actuaries are currently carrying out the fund’s triennial valuation. The results are expected in early 2020. The results of the valuation will determine the fund’s risk and return parameters for the next three years. From that an investment strategy will be derived which will include the extent to which the fund can transition into low carbon and renewable asset classes.

In addition, councillors are developing a climate change policy with the fund’s advisers which will formally outline the fund’s objectives and implementation approach for mitigating climate risk.