Denbighshire County Council: Tackling climate and ecological change in decision making

Denbighshire County Council has changed its Constitution to ensure all decisions made have regard for tackling climate and ecological change. Supporting templates and processes have also been updated including the committee report template, terms of reference, wellbeing impact assessment process and project business case template for capital and business development schemes.


The challenge

Denbighshire County Council declared a Climate Change and Ecological Emergency in July 2019. The challenge was how to embed action for tackling climate and ecological change into the DNA of the Council and in all the business it seeks to deliver.

The solution

One action, out of many, the Council has done is to change the 'Principals of Decision Making' section within its Constitution to state that all decisions should be made with regard for tackling climate and ecological change. This was formally adopted by the Council in October 2020.

Supporting templates and processes have also been updated including the committee report template, terms of reference for key decision making groups/bodies, the wellbeing impact assessment process (required for every decision) and the project business case template for capital and business development schemes.

The Council also invested in a full day of Carbon Literacy Training for Councillors, Senior and Middle Managers, Project Managers and key officers (206 learners). This was to equip them with the knowledge and awareness to carry out the duty of both presenting information to decision makers, and for decision makers to have regard for tackling climate and ecological change when reviewing and deciding upon the information presented. An 'Introduction to Climate Change' e-learn has also been produced and launched internally which all staff can access. This was completed 107 times in the first 4 weeks of it going live.

The impact

The change in constitution has focussed the mind in both Councillors and officers around this agenda and has given the agenda status internally within the organisation. It has also brought clarity of purpose and a way for all staff and Councillors to contribute to the delivery of this agenda.

Feedback to the training has been really positive and given staff and councillors a good foundation in the subject matter to be able to identify, understand and challenge in a decision making setting for the benefit of reducing carbon emissions, increasing carbon sequestration and improving biodiversity.

Lessons learned

  • Success is dependent on individuals buying into the process, completing it sincerely
  • You need internal expertise for individuals to refer to, to help guide thinking and support in for example carbon calculations, species assessments etc
  • You need to invest in training people up on this agenda, supporting them in their Carbon Literacy journey
  • You need to deliver regular communications internally on this agenda to keep it in their minds
  • Building in time to do compliance dip checks would be worthwhile for example 1 month after, 3 months after, 6 months after, 12 months after you have changed your process/constitution

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