Our environment highlights for 2017/18 were:
- Overall good progress on clean growth, showing a 24% increase in economic productivity whilst achieving a 18.3% decrease in carbon emissions. (2010-2015 is the latest comparable data as of April 2018)
- The UK’s first annual benchmark of Combined Authorities on overall sustainability performance around areas such as leadership, strategy and delivery by SWM ranked the WMCA second. The WMCA has committed to become ‘best in class’ within two years.
- The creation of a new Environment Portfolio lead and agreed set of priorities, developed at a summit with the Mayor and the Climate Change Committee, supported by an Environment Delivery Board of local partners coordinated and monitored by SWM.
- Working with SWM business club networks and other partners, the WMCA has improved the coordination of existing business support and funding, promoting over £510m of accessible low carbon funding for local businesses and communities.
- The West Midlands Science and Innovation Audit launched by the Mayor identified international strengths in low carbon transport, buildings, and energy. This was reflected later in the year within the UK Government Clean Growth and Industrial Strategies and a successful bid to host the £80m UK battery research centre in Warwick.
- The second devolution deal contained a commitment to recognise the existing regional Energy Capital partnership, support a WMCA- wide energy strategy, and support a regional energy commission to explore potential innovation zones to pilot new regulation and investment in order to stimulate new energy companies, products and services.
- The WMCA held a roundtable with industry and local partners on air quality to begin to develop a longer-term roadmap to go beyond short- term compliance on a single pollutant, and tackle a wider range of pollutants to meet the SEP 2030 targets and stimulate local economic opportunities.
- Research was commissioned by the Sustainable Housing Action Partnership and the West Midlands Housing Officers Group to identify good sustainability practice for new build standards for housing, planning policies, and methods of construction.
Key priorities for 2018/19 and beyond:
- The Environment Delivery Board will publish an action plan and report progress on moving the WMCA to become ‘best in class’ within two years. The WMCA will address capacity gaps identified within the organisation and partners to deliver the plan.
- Improving internal and external communication on WMCA activities around sustainability to help identify and promote good practice, enable constructive challenge and help local partners to engage and work together more effectively.
- Working to ensure local strengths in clean growth sectors of transport, buildings and energy, as well as the importance of the natural environment, form a key part of the new Local Industrial Strategy, with the ambition to become the UK’s first Combined Authority Clean Growth Industrial Strategy.
- Collaboration with natural environment partners, businesses, and Government to develop a long-term natural capital investment strategy to help coordinate and attract investment to improve the state and use of natural assets.
- Moving towards a longer-term roadmap supported by business and local partners to tackle overall air quality issues within the next 10 years, while working with local authority partners on shorter-term priorities.
- Consider recommendations from Energy Capital and the Regional Energy Commission on innovation zones.
- Promoting key sustainability opportunities within WMCA key investment sites to lever local partners’ expertise and innovation opportunities to maximise benefits.
- Review, and if required, update current sustainability criteria within WMCA funding and monitoring system and building standards.