MERTHYR Tydfil Council has set out how it plans to cut carbon emissions in the county over the next decade.
Cabinet will be asked to approve the council’s Decarbonisation Plan for 2023-2030 at a meeting on Wednesday, May 17.
The cabinet report said it set out six key themed areas with action plans and these were buildings and planning, travel and transport, procurement of goods and services, outsourced service (leisure trust), land management and governance.
Building and planning
In terms of building and planning, the report said the council had a number of large scale retrofit projects which were ongoing or in planning stages in council buildings and schools.
It mentioned the Pen y Dre private wire project to generate electricity and use this locally was in the initial stages of development.
The proposal to look at the potential of a private wire agreement between Merthyr Tydfil Council and Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board is being explored.
It would use energy generated initially from a solar array located at Pen-y-Dre School and connected to Prince Charles Hospital with the potential to extend the electrical network to include arrays at the new-build Goetre Primary and 3-16 Blessed Carlos Acutis schools. The next steps are developing a heads of terms agreement and securing planning permission.
The report mentions a regional wind farm project with German energy company RWE proposing the development of Pen March Wind Farm to be located north-west of Rhymney and north-east of Merthyr Tydfil, consisting of up to six turbines with a capacity of around 30MW.
A statutory consultation has been carried out and as part of the proposal, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly councils are being offered a shared ownership stake in the scheme up to 20% (10% each) of the project.
During 2023, RWE will finalise planning applications and submit it to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) as it is classed as a “development of national significance.”
The report said that over the past four years the energy team at the council had been carrying out works to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in council buildings including rolling out smart meters, implementing energy management and monitoring software which helped to identify energy waste, and installing over 70 different energy conservation measures across 40+ buildings.
This had resulted in energy cost savings of approximately £1.2 million and reduction in carbon emissions of 36% compared to 2015/2016 levels.
It’s currently involved in schemes including Afon Taf High School, low carbon heat feasibility and a pilot behaviour change project.
Travel and transport
The report said that the fleet management department had made “significant progress” to move the fleet towards electrification.
The council has eight vans and two tractors which are electrically powered. The next tranche of electric vehicles includes six 3.5 tonne tippers.
To date, the fleet depot has installed four 7kw (KiloWatt) chargers and the next stage of the process will provide an additional 34 22kW and four 150kw ones in Unit 20.
The report said there had been an increase in the electricity capacity in Unit 5 by 1MW (MegaWatt) and the fleet team were currently seeking funding for 20 22kW and one 150kW chargers by 2025 which would provide charging capacity for highways, winter maintenance, printing and engineering vehicles.
The fleet department had also applied for a Welsh Government grant to part-fund three recycling collection vehicles.
The council has been working on an electric vehicle strategy and has been collaborating with Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) and the Connected Kerb organisation on the delivery of charge points at nine separate locations.
The council is working with Connected Kerb to provide a number of additional locations which would be cost neutral to the council.
The report said the council would be looking to engage with the private sector to encourage investment to provide charging points as the council was limited in terms of land available to install chargers for public use.
To protect the health and safety of residents, the report said the council would not be endorsing charging points where wires were trailing across pavements or footpaths.
The report also said that business travel by council employees had decreased due to the hybrid working model adopted by the council.
Procurement of goods and services
When it came to goods, the report used the example of the procurement of stationery or food, civil engineering and building products with the aim to reduce packaging content.
On services it mentioned the procurement of building maintenance, hire of plant and equipment, or domiciliary care and considering ways to reduce carbon which could include the use of local resources to reduce travel.
And on works it mentioned the procurement of a building refurbishment where carbon reduction could be achieved through local supply chains and use of low carbon materials.
The procurement team and decarbonisation programme manager were working together to develop an action plan to focus on introducing carbon reduction measures into the council’s procurement processes and strategy, the report said.
Outsourced services (Leisure Trust)
The council energy team are leading a project with the leisure trust to assess its facilities.
Feasibility studies are being carried out by a contractor in leisure trust buildings to look at opportunities for installation of energy conservation measures which will help the leisure trust in decarbonising.
The council is involved in a scheme to work towards the decarbonisation of Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre, working with Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, Alliance Leisure and Welsh Government with measures including Solar PV, LED lighting, pool covers and insulation.
The report said there were a number of ways to increase biodiversity which helped remove carbon from the atmosphere.
These included increasing green spaces, tree planting, extending grasslands and hedgerows, wild flower areas, converting “grey assets” to green areas, wetlands and reducing mowing regimes.
The council has two main strategic plans including the Nature Recovery Action Plan and the Open Space Strategy.
Work is being carried out within council land areas to enhance the area visually and have a positive impact on reduction of pollution and carbon emissions, the report said.
Recent projects include Dowlais High Street, whereby the central reservation has been reworked to introduce a green planting scheme.
The report said Abercanaid School and the surrounding area had been vastly improved with a green wall, planters for both shrubs and trees, trees around the playing fields, vegetable plot, orchard and a wild flower area.
The disused tennis courts at Troedyrhiw were converted into a diverse garden area and a playground which was sometimes susceptible to flooding has been developed into a thriving wetland area.
Grassland sites have been increased, and wild flowers encouraged with reduced mowing which significantly increased pollination, the report said.
These projects have been delivered as a result of grant funding through the Local Places for Nature Grant.
The main elements of governance include the Decarbonisation Plan itself, the Integrated Impact Assessment, HR and training, carbon reporting, strategic planning, the Local Area Energy Plan and external awards such as the ISO 50001 energy management system and the One Planet Standard