Agenda and minutes
Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Steve Tucker, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Yolande Watson.
To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.
Cllr David Summers substituted for Cllr Yolande Watson.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
Cllr Elissa Swinglehurst declared a non-pecuniary interest in respect of agenda item 8, as current Chairperson of the Wye Catchment Nutrient Management Board.
To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2022.
The minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2022 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as Appendix 1 to the minutes.
Questions from members of the council
To receive any written questions from members of the council.
There were no questions received from Councillors.
This report presents information for the committee to consider the extent to which the preparation of the Herefordshire Local Plan will look to deliver the objectives for Environment and Sustainability, as outlined in the County Plan 2020-2024, Herefordshire Climate Change Emergency resolutions and Executive Response, and other relevant Council strategies and policies, including the Success Measures provided in the Council’s County Plan 2020-2024.
The Committee gave consideration to the report as set out on pages 13-24 of the agenda, which provided information regarding how the preparation of the Herefordshire Local Plan will look to deliver the objectives for Environment and Sustainability outlined in the County Plan 2020-2024, Herefordshire Climate Change Emergency resolutions and Executive Response, and other relevant Council strategies and policies.
The Committee sought clarity regarding how the nine spatial options (comprising five strategic options and four rural options) set out at Sections 3 and 4 of the Spatial Options Consultation document from January 2022 were produced, and what meetings and/or workshops took place between Executive members and officers to inform the options selected for inclusion in the consultation. It was confirmed that, in compliance with the regulations setting out the Local Plan process, Herefordshire Council had a Local Plan Cabinet working group (comprised of Councillors Chowns, Harrington, Harvey and Tyler), which met a number of times to receive briefings whilst the options were formulated for the spatial options consultation, taking into account the assessed need for the County.
The Committee recalled that during the first phase of consultation around the new Local Plan, ideas were put forward for a spatial option focussed on existing rail infrastructure in the County, as well as an option for a new eco-settlement, but noted that the nine proposed spatial options in place at the beginning of the consultation remained materially unchanged. A query was therefore raised regarding whether these alternative ideas had been dismissed following meetings of the cabinet working group. The Cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport confirmed that meetings took place during which preferred options were discussed, however, options were not excluded from the consultation based on Cabinet member preferences and the fact that there had been little material change in the options may simply have been reflective of the responses received to date. The Neighbourhood Planning Service Manager further advised that whilst there were an infinite number of options that could be consulted upon, the Council had to show that it had consulted upon reasonable and different alternatives, and that these were sufficiently scoped to enable the public to understand how they differed.
The Committee also recalled that an initial idea for a new market town appeared to be absent from the emerging proposals, although the Neighbourhood Planning Service Manager advised that this was considered as part of consultation option 5 and included a ‘call for sites’; however, only a small number of potential sites had come forward and these were being assessed for their environmental impact. It was explained that new settlements take on average 15-20 years to come to fruition and this would need to be demonstrated as deliverable within the lifetime of the new Plan.
The Committee expressed some concern at the prospect of development being focussed around market towns in the County, given that three of the towns have no railway stations and therefore the expectation would be further reliance on car use and pressure on existing road ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
This report provides the Committee with an update on how Restoration of the River Wye is being progressed and the opportunity to consider how the matter should be kept under review by the Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee gave consideration to the report as set out on pages 3-12 of the agenda supplement, which provided an update on the establishment of a Cabinet Phosphates Commission to address systemic and strategic issues regarding phosphate pollution in the River Wye, and invited the Scrutiny Committee to examine how it wished to keep the matter under review.
The Committee noted the proposed Terms of Reference for the Joint Cabinet Commission on Restoration of the River Wye and a number of initial observations were raised upon which additional assurances from the Executive were sought.
It was noted that the draft terms of reference did not contain a commitment to report back to the Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee on the work of the Commission and progress achieved. It was therefore requested that regular update reports should be provided to the Committee, with a final report provided to the meeting scheduled for 10 March 2023.
It was also noted that although the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was referred to in the report at Paragraph 12 in relation to a review of its governance arrangements, there was no mention of this in the draft terms of reference. The Delivery Director stated that the review of the Nutrient Management Board (NMB) governance arrangements set out at part 1 of the terms of reference would include the TAG and that there was ongoing engagement through officer attendance at TAG meetings which would continue, although the focus of the Commission was to look at the strategic picture rather than what practitioners could achieve through existing regulatory frameworks.
It was further noted that there was no reference to riparian buffer zones in the terms of reference as an area to be explored as part of the Commission’s work. The Delivery Director acknowledged the important role that these were likely to play in the restoration effort for the River Wye and catchment network, and confirmed it was the intention that by working with the farming sector, as set out in part 2 of the terms of reference, appropriate solutions such as this could be progressed.
The Executive Response to the scrutiny recommendation made at the July meeting of the Committee was noted. It was suggested however that the Executive’s stated undertaking to find ways to include expertise from across the membership of the Council in the work of the Commission was less than satisfactory and concerns were expressed that the Commission might become a remote, high level exercise led by the three Commissioners with limited opportunities for elected Members to participate in or contribute to its work. The Leader of the Council noted the concern but stressed that care also had to be taken to ensure that the Commission could conduct its work efficiently. The Committee noted the response but requested further clarification from the Executive in relation to what actions it will now take to progress its commitment to find ways to involve members from across the Council in the Commission’s work.
The Cabinet Member for ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
This report provides a brief summary update on issues previously considered by the Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee, including responses to information requests made by the Committee, updates on resolutions made by the Committee, including reports and recommendations to the Executive and the Executive response and Executive decision(s) made in respect of scrutiny reports and recommendations.
The Committee gave consideration to the report as set out on pages 25-34 of the agenda, which provided a brief summary update on issues previously considered.
It was resolved that:
The progress report on scrutiny information requests, scrutiny reports and recommendations and other matters raised by the Committee be noted.
To consider the work programme for the committee.
The Committee gave consideration to its Work Programme as set out on pages 35-42 of the agenda.
In respect of the Herefordshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy item due before the Committee in November, it was suggested that key witnesses to complement those already identified could include a representative from the National Farmers Union (NFU) to address soil management strategies, and a representative from Balfour Beatty to address infrastructure damage caused by escaping floodwater.
The Committee noted the amendments to future meeting dates from Wednesday 16 November 2022 and Wednesday 8 March 2023 to Friday 18 November 2022 and Friday 10 March 2023 respectively.
It was resolved that:
The Committee Work Programme be noted.
Date of the next meeting
The Committee are asked to note the change of date for the next meeting from Wednesday 16 November 2022 at 10.30am to Friday 18 November 2022 at 10.30am*.
The remaining meetings for the municipal year are scheduled for:
Thursday 19 January 2023 10.30am
Friday 10 March 2023 10.30am* (please note change of date)
* The changes to scheduled meeting dates have been agreed by the Chair in consultation with the Leader of the Council.
The Committee noted its meeting dates for the remainder of the 2022/23 municipal year.