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Climate Impacts Group Meeting Minutes, 3rd January 2024

Attendees

Mark Rice
Emily Reed
Doug Eltham
Alex Rainbow
Tom Dauben
Laurence Couldrick
Claire Below
Kathryn Deeney
Richard Sweatman
Rhys Hobbs
Rebecca Williams
Penny Tranter
Environment Agency (Chair)
Devon Climate Emergency
Devon County Council (Natural Environment)
Cornwall Council
Environment Agency
Westcountry Rivers Trust
Cornwall Council
Plymouth City Council
Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum
Cornwall Council
Council of the Isles of Scilly
Met Office

Apologies

Stephen Swabey
Victoria Hatfield
Louise Sawyer
Donna Sibley
John Amosford
Harriet Googe
Jess Pryer
Sara Gibbs
Paul Lunt
Richard Saville
Maria Van Hove
Zoe Sydenham
Carolyn Cadman
Nick Paling
Paul Minshull
George Arnison
Council of the Isles of Scilly
Exeter City Council
Devon and Cornwall Police
Torridge District and North Devon Councils
Public Health Devon
Environment Agency
Met Office
Public Health Devon
University of Plymouth
Cornwall Council
Public Health, Exeter University and Torbay Council
Plymouth City Council
South West Water
South West Water
Cornwall Council
Environment Agency

1. Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record.  All action points have been implemented.

Emily said that Richard Sweatmam has checked that erosion risk associated with climate change is included in the Community Risk Register as part of a risk associated with landslips.

2. Review of Natural Environment Risks CIG01 – CIG05

Five risks from the Natural Environment section of the regional Climate Adaptation Strategy were scheduled for review at today’s meeting. These are the risks with identification codes CIG01 – CIG05.  [Every risk in the Strategy is scheduled for review once a year].

This is an opportunity to raise any changes in the region which may have occurred since the risks were last reviewed in October 2022 which need to be noted and may impact on the risk ratings.

Mark took the Group through each risk in turn.

CIG01

Tom and Laurence noted that there are feedback loops associated with this risk, some of which are driven by climate change but others are driven by the complexity of natural systems that, for example, can cause the loss of species because the lifecycle of other species upon which they depend are changing at different rates.

It was AGREED thatthis complexity should be better-described in the full risk matrix.

Kat asked where freshwater and marine issues are covered. Emily said they’re covered elsewhere in the Natural Environment section and will be reviewed at a subsequent meeting.

Mark asked whether the existing controls are adequate. Laurence said that we know we need bigger, better and more connected habitats and 30% of land protected for nature by 2030, but this will require a substantial step-change in programmed activity in the UK and globally. On that basis we know the existing controls are not adequate but this regional risk assessment process provides the pressure to regional stakeholders to work harder and better together.

Kat said it is difficult to identify which of the new actions in the Plan relate to each risk.

ACTION: Emily to add a column to the actions list showing which risks they help mitigate.

CIG02

No changes required.

CIG03

Tom mentioned the Forestry Commission has a tool that helps decision makers consider the suitability of different tree species for climate types. This should be added to the list of existing controls.

CIG04

No changes required.

CIG05

No changes required.

3. Consideration of new risks and vulnerabilities

Penny mentioned that the railway between Salisbury and Exeter was closed last summer because the clay soils dried out which led to remedial works needed to the line.

ACTION: Emily to add this record to the appropriate risk in the infrastructure section.

Penny asked about the risk of climate change bringing new disease. Emily said it’s covered elsewhere in the risk register.

Kat raised that we will have to pilot new approaches to managing risk and increasing resilience, which needs to be considered as a cross-cutting theme of the strategy. Without being brave, the step-change required will not happen. 

Penny added that climate change and its impacts will not develop linearly through time, so the risks we’ve identified won’t necessarily change at a constant rate. Other risks will emerge that we’ve not considered. An example is the recent flooding in Australia that led to crocodiles in streets – nobody had considered this would occur and so plans were not in place to address this situation. Emily said that this Group will be ensuring each risk is reviewed at least annually and we could have a regular agenda item for the identification of new risks.  

ACTION: Emily to add a regular agenda item for partners to raise new risks.

Kat asked about equalities and how those impact some of the risks. Rhys and Emily said that when the risks are considered locally in communities and local adaptation actions are developed, it will be easier to see the equalities linkages and to develop opportunities to ensure equality issues are managed.

4. Review of Natural Environment Actions

The three actions in the Action Plan (Appendix 6) for the natural environment sector were reviewed at this meeting. Ahead of the meeting, Emily circulated a table that has collated local activity that is helping to implement each action. Comments on this were requested.

Rhys, Penny and Laurence said that the focus of this Group needs to be on monitoring the implementation of actions Action Plan because it’s the opportunities around these that will change more frequently than the environmental conditions that dictate the likelihood and magnitude of each of the risks. I.e. the risk ratings are unlikely to change frequently.

NEA-1 Develop a collaborative regional water strategy to manage water availability and safe treatment and disposal of waste water, including aquifer recharge, control over-extraction, increase the use of rainwater harvesting, reduce effluent discharge etc.

Tom said Defra has a water-cycle planning initiative underway at the moment. Tom said we should raise linkages to ‘too much water’ because of the links with storm overflows at sewage treatment works. The EA is looking at developing an initiative to separate flood water from waste water.

ACTION: Tom to send documents/initiatives to Emily that need adding.

The Group discussed the RAG rating of this risk. It was AGREED that due to reservoirs only being 75% full, and demand for water continuing to rise, this should be Amber rather than Green. Emily has been discussing KPI options with South West Water, which is still ongoing.

ACTION: Emily to change RAG status to Amber and add explanation.

NEB-1 Promote and Improve soil management techniques (Min-till cultivation, cover crops, ley-arable rotations) to protect soil structure / nutrient levels and increase resilience to adverse weather / aridity impacts.

No additional comments.

NEC-1 Provision of capacity building support and advice to community groups from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for taking action to support nature enhancement.

Rhys said there is a lot of activity from the Local Nature Recovery Strategy arena that will help with this action.

ACTION: Rhys to send information to Emily.

5. Funding Opportunities

The Arsinoe project is looking for innovative projects in Torbay that respond to flood risk.

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