Infrastructure Services Committee - Round Up 21.3.16

The committee began with a presentation from David Armitage, Roads Policy and Asset Manager, on “Street Lighting Work and Energy Efficiency”.

He gave councillors an update on the long term upgrade of the council’s street lighting stock to more economic units, a policy approved by councillors in 2012.

He described it as “a very flexible policy which has allowed us to do a lot of good work”, but also told how the high number of housing development completions in the area in recent years has led to greater energy bills for the council – after it adopts new roads and becomes responsible for the street lights.

Councillors heard a fall in the rate of development, coupled with the use of more efficient lighting, has meant the council’s energy consumption and carbon emissions in relation to street lighting is now decreasing.

With new technology coming on the market all the time and LED lighting increasing in efficiency and decreasing in cost, Mr Armitage told the committee he is confident the council will achieve its commitment to a 44% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

Contributing to this is an ongoing programme to convert all of the council’s lighting stock to LEDs within a five year programme, focussing on those units which have already reached or are near to the end of their life.

A new Regeneration Strategy for Aberdeenshire

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Update on A947 Route Improvement Strategy

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Partnership Reviews

In the latest of a series of partnership reviews, members of the committee approved continued support for the North East Scotland Local Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership.

Its role is to provide the framework for local action on national priority species and habitats.

The partnership’s work also includes the conservation of habitats and species that are of importance to local communities, whether or not they are national priorities.

Through its involvement with the partnership, Aberdeenshire Council promotes nature conservation both within the organisation and the wider community which contributes to the delivery of the Biodiversity Duty outlined in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.

The annual core costs of the partnership are £54,000 and Aberdeenshire Council contributes £8,500 a year.

You can see more information and details of the projects and initiatives delivered by the partnership in the report to committee.

Continued support for the Dee Catchment Partnership (DCP) and for the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) was also approved by the committee.

The vision for DCP is “to return the River Dee (and its catchment) to good order throughout, with sufficient high quality water, habitat and amenity to allow its inhabitants, flora and fauna to flourish”.

Councillors were presented with a report giving details of projects and initiatives it has delivered over the last three years, including efforts to decrease pollution and educational work in schools.

The council currently contributes £9,000 a year to the partnership, which has average annual expenditure of around £65-70,000 per annum, expected to be £75-80,000 per year for the next three years.

For more information, including a summary of the projects delivered by the DCP, see the report to committee on our website.

The committee also agreed continued support for the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT), created in April 2008 from the former Upper Deeside Access Trust (UDAT), itself established in 1998.

Aberdeenshire Council, along with a number of other funding bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and the Cairngorms Partnership, has supported the Trust(s) over the last 18 years.

Over this period funding for delivery of a wide range of upland and lowland path improvements has been successfully sourced from European funds, Heritage Lottery and a range of charitable trusts.

COAT’s aims are to help and assist public access to, and enjoyment of, the area and to promote its sensitive use, by developing and undertaking a strategy for managing access within the Cairngorms National Park and the area of UDAT that is within Aberdeenshire, which balances recreational use with the natural heritage, land management and other interests.

Again, the committee received a summary of COAT’s recent activity delivering a wide range of projects and initiatives that have encouraged access to the outdoors for both visitors and local communities.

Councillors heard it has played a key role in developing a large number of walking to health groups both in Deeside and on the west side of the Cairngorms. Many of these groups use the network of community paths created by COAT and UDAT over the past 18 years.

The council currently contributes £10,000 a year to COAT, whose expenditure in 2014/15 was over £1.5million.

For more information, including a summary of recent achievements, please see the report to committee on our website.