Agenda item

Portfolio Holder Question and Answer Session

To participate in a question and answer session on the role of the Leader of the Council and her Portfolio. 


The Chairman welcome the Leader to the meeting for a question and answer session.  The Leader gave a presentation on the Planning aspect of her portfolio. Upon completion of the presentation the Chairman opened the floor to questions from Members.


A Member asked if the A66 duelling that was mentioned in the presentation is not in direct contradiction to nutrient neutrality, as this project will require lots of temporary services.


The Assistant Director Development explained that National Highways have been alerted to the issue and they are engaged with Natural England on it. It is likely to be a number of years before this project starts, so there will be time to identify and implement mitigation to achieve nutrient neutrality. We will continue to monitor their actions in this regard. 


A Member asked if the Consultation on the Beacon was still ongoing.


The Leader responded that the consultation had closed a while back, and the examiner had responded. The Assistant Director Development commented that the plan would need to go to a referendum and a report will be brought to members in the near future.


A Member raised a question on nutrient neutrality. As farmers have applied for grants to have their slurry tanks covered, because of the increased in raw materials they can no longer afford to do this – have you had any feedback on this?


The Leader confirmed that she had not been in contact with anyone on this.


A Member raised a question on nutrient neutrality. They raised the fact that these measures were trying to reduce algae blooms, the cause of that is too much fertilizer on land. What is happening to reduce fertilizer? Surely housing development has a huge impact on that. How does Housing development lead to increase nitrogen and phosphorus in the rivers?


The Assistant Director Development commented that it is both agricultural fertiliser and housing development. Foul waste from residential accommodation is the main problem. Ouflows from waste treatment plants can go into the rivers and add undesirable nutrients.


A Member raised a query in regards to climate change, here the Member raised that developers are using gas boilers in their developments. The Member queried if this is going to change?


The Assistant Director Development explained that there was new building regulations coming into force that will be stricter in regards to carbon.


A Member raised a query in regards to nutrient neutrality, and if surface water was included in this, as some developments have an excess of surface water that is going into rivers.


The Assistant Director Development commented that there is a link – but it is not as big as an implication as other factors. There is lots of factors to this, and he believes that this isn’t a central consideration in the nutrient neutrality measures. 


A Member raised a query in regards to nutrient neutrality, and if Council’s can mitigate this by taking agricultural fields out of circulation.


The Assistant Director Development explained that fertiliser and livestock can contribute, this can be offset by taking nutrients out of the system by changing agricultural land uses. 


A Member queried the Planning enforcement backlog. They asked where the Council stands as of right now with the backlog.


The Assistant Director Development stated that a written response will be given to this question.


A Member requested that they would like to see a future projection of this backlog if we are actively reducing the backlog now.


A Member raised a query on nutrient neutrality, they queried that since this scheme was going to cost money, they hoped that this isn’t going to impact the level of affordable housing provided by developers.


The Assistant Director Development confirmed that existing applications should not be impacted, but additional costs to developers related to nutrient neutrality mitigation may have some impact.


A Member queried that lack of communication between Cumbria County Council and Eden District Council on enforcement matters, they asked that with LGR occurring, will there be better communication between the two organisations?


At 8:45 Councillor Hanley left the meeting.


The Assistant Director Development stated that, although communication does take place there would be better communication and a common set of priorities when there is a unitary authority.


At 8:48 Councillor Hanley re-joined the meeting.


A member queried the recent announcement that the Weymouth Pine outside Voreda House is due to be used as an art installation. They asked whose idea was this, how much will it cost and who will install it.


The Leader responded that she wasn’t sure whose idea it was. She stated that the costs shouldn’t be majorly significant.