Climate Fife, Is it radical enough?

On Monday 2 December 2019, The Big Climate Conversation, hosted by Transition, was attended by people from across St Andrews as a consultation for our Council’s new Climate Fife plan.

This workshop on the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan was organised to raise awareness and give people a chance to submit their thoughts. In response to Fife Council’s climate emergency declaration, the plan sets out a vision for Fife that is Climate Friendly, Climate Ready and Climate Just. The plan recognises the need for huge transformations in Fife’s communities to avoid financial, societal, food chain and economic collapse within the lifetime of our children.

We shared thoughts under the 5 of the themes. We did not manage to discuss Energy Efficiency and Low Carbon Energy. If you did not attend, do not worry, here are the main points from the evening.

Move, Store and Transform Energy

Priority: MST05 – See measures to amend non-domestic rates assessments for district heating. This would be very helpful for development of St Andrews district heating initiatives.  

Additional actions: Support for district heating supply to new build developments. St Andrews University approached Persimmon homes about supplying heating to the new development at Guardbridge without success. Such arrangements must be made compulsory for all the new large housing developments. 

There should be more emphasis on storage, both electricity and seasonal heat storage. 

Adaptation

  • It is perhaps not thought of in Scotland enough as this country has so far avoided much of the extreme effects due to climate change. 
  • Development of risk registers and plans should be a priority. 
  • What is missing is a wider view of land management, especially incorporating agriculture. 
  • Education should be central to this theme.
  • There is lots of talk about community resilience but no mention of business. 
  • Investment and support should be provided for building resilience in deprived areas – some communities do not have resources to build resilience on their own. 
  • Out of the box idea – Climate change adaptation awards for towns and villages, similar to the Beautiful Fife awards for green spaces. 

Carbon Sequestration

  • Many of the actions are sequential so it was hard to prioritize them. 
  • Technocratic approaches were rated as weakest. 
  • The point that was seen as most difficult, but equally the most necessary, is to work closely on Fife’s relationship with the Scottish and UK government. All to ensure better access to funding and establish coherent nationwide practice, including the prioritizing of wildlife corridors across the country.
  • Conservation and regeneration of existing areas should be prioritized over further development/urbanization 
  • It is essential for the Council to work with community partners on this to create stronger sense of unilateral ownership over initiatives and space.
  • Social/climate justice issues are tied in with who owns the land and how we can get communities to take greater ownership of the regeneration/sequestration projects. Therefore, the delivery of Who Owns Scotland report due out 2024 should be brought forward. 

Resource Efficiency

  • This seems to be a very big area as it encompasses both food and waste/circular economy. Perhaps bringing food out into a separate category may be helpful. 
  • Education must be at the heart of any resource efficiency programme. That way people and their communities can better reuse and reduce.
  • Funding may be an issue. How will the Council afford the new initiatives if it struggles with sending out of recycling information?
  • It will be essential that local partnerships are developed across organisations, businesses and local community. Within St Andrews this is essential to ensuring we work together to close the loop on reuse and recycling.
  • Local procurement of food by public institutions should be prioritised. In Fife the procurement laws are a significant barrier. 

Sustainable Transport

  • Priority should be given to green travel initiatives such as the ones being developed by the University of St Andrews.
  • We must update local transport strategies and develop well connected, coherent and good quality active travel networks. 
  • Out of the box idea – Introduce pedal cabs to the towns, which are capable of transporting up to 4 people. This is seen as an effective contribution to promoting active and low carbon travel.