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Climate Impacts Group Meeting Minutes, 6th February 2024


Emily Reed
Stephen Swabey
Laurence Couldrick
Claire Below
Nathan Streetley
Rhys Hobbs
Sara Gibbs
Nick Paling
Donna Sibley
Louise Sawyer
Paul Minshull

Devon Climate Emergency
Council of the Isles of Scilly
Westcountry Rivers Trust
Cornwall Council
Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum
Cornwall Council
Public Health Devon
South West Water
Torridge District and North Devon Council
Devon and Cornwall Police
Cornwall Council


Mark Rice
Doug Eltham
Richard Sweatman
Victoria Hatfield
John Amosford
Harriet Googe
Jess Pryer
Paul Lunt
Maria Van Hove
Zoe Sydenham
Carolyn Cadman
George Arnison
Alex Rainbow
Tom Dauben
Kathryn Deeney
Rebecca Williams
Penny Tranter
Environment Agency (Chair)
Devon County Council (Natural Environment)
Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum
Exeter City Council
Public Health Devon
Environment Agency
Met Office
University of Plymouth
Public Health, Exeter University and Torbay Council
Plymouth City Council
South West Water
Environment Agency
Cornwall Council
Environment Agency
Plymouth City Council
Council of the Isles of Scilly
Met Office

1. Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record.

Actions carried forward:

ACTION: (re NEA-1) Tom to send documents/initiatives to Emily that need adding. 

ACTION: Rhys to send information to Emily. 

2. Review of Natural Environment Risks CIG06 – CIG10

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 CIG06 – CIG10.  [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.

Emily invited comments from the group on the risks being considered and shared comments emailed by Tom Dauben and Richard Sweatman.

CIG06 Risks and opportunities to AGRICULTURAL productivity from extreme events and changing climatic conditions (including temperature change, water scarcity, wildfire, flooding, coastal erosion, wind and saline intrusion, carbon fertilisation).

No changes required.

The group discussed Tom Dauben’s concern that the present magnitude should be increased from medium to reflect the high rates of soil loss seen in flooding last year. However, it was agreed not to change the present rating for CIG06 as the increased magnitude was localised, not across the region.

Nick Paling clarified, in response to a query, that South West Water is responsible for potable water to both domestic and commercial customers (i.e. from mains supply). If the water comes from a private source such as a well it is not their responsibility. However, they may need to become involved if those on private water supplies need to switch to potable water due to diminished private supply.

Nick noted that the NFU are trying to develop a water resources management plan and Water Net Gain is doing work with dairy farmers. Nick also pointed out that the Cornwall 2022 drought was a 1 in 50 year event, which in the context of coming forecasts is not that severe. However, it was unprecedented as it was demand led.

ACTION: Emily to contact the NFU to find out more.

CIG07  Risks and opportunities to FORESTRY productivity from extreme events and changing climatic conditions (including temperature change, water scarcity, wildfire, flooding, coastal erosion, wind and saline intrusion).

No changes required.

CIG08 Risks to agri-food (agriculture and horticulture) from pests, pathogens and invasive species

No changes required.

CIG09 Risks to FORESTRY from pests, pathogens and invasive species

No changes required.

The group AGREED that it would be good to have a representative from the Forestry Commission.

ACTION: Emily to invite a representative from the Forestry Commission to the group.

CIG10 Opportunities for agricultural and forestry productivity from new/alternative species becoming suitable.

No changes required.

3. Review of Infrastructure Actions

Two actions in the Action Plan (Appendix 6) for the infrastructure 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.

INFA–1 – Build on and develop resilience partnerships. Ensure their Command, Control and Co-ordination arrangements for an emergency which involves the loss of both power and telecoms, and actively involve utilities companies in local planning where required to ensure linkage with regional and national developments.

Sara Gibbs shared that Devon County Council recently held a cyber security exercise which might have learnings.

ACTION: Emily to contact Elliot Batty to ask about learnings from the recent cyber security exercise held by Devon County Council.

Emily shared Tom Dauben’s comments that there is no current obligation for private industries to share their flood risk assessments for their assets with the Environment Agency. However, greater collaboration between the stakeholders could result in more mutually beneficial solutions for protecting infrastructure assets. This prompted a discussion. Paul Minshull raised that private companies might be reluctant to collaborate on flood defences in case it increased their liability and maintenance duties beyond their own assets.

Stephen reminded the group that the Environment Agency can coordinate with other government funding to support protection to infrastructure assets beyond the remit of Grant in Aid. Lisa Carpenter is the best person to speak to. He added that the group could learn off of New Zealand’s ‘lifeline’ groups of utilities.

Rhys Hobbs stressed that the action was about short-term command and control, not long term maintenance. Nathan assured the group that the utility providers have been supportive in recent planning for power outages. Although there are issues regarding information sharing at times.

INFB–1 – Develop joint strategies, research, and longer-term schemes with SWW and Catchment Partnerships (and other risk management partners where appropriate) to improve catchment management both for high flow areas at flood risk and protect low flow by reducing demand / drought impacts.

Nick reiterated that South West Water are fully committed to a catchment based approach, including data sharing. They are initiating a programme of natural capital plans for 14 key pilot catchments and realigning themselves to take a catchment approach.

Laurence shared that the West Country Rivers Trust (WCRT) are running a project called ‘In Water’ trying to bring together all the catchment partnerships and develop data sharing approaches. Nick said that South West Water’s work on catchments could be complimentary. WCRT are trying to expand their apprenticeships.

Emily raised that the capacity and skills supply to implement catchment management approaches seem to be an issue. Nick agreed that the supply chain capacity is a rate limiting factor, as did Laurence. Nick noted that some of the big infrastructure partners are developing natural capital skills training. Emily asked if a skills gap analysis was needed? Laurence answered that the Devon Local Nature Partnership review of Farm Advice largely fulfilled this need.

Stephen stressed that collaboration between infrastructure providers, the Environment Agency and Local Authorities during the development of Shoreline Management Plans was essential for long term resilience of assets. But this didn’t always meet its full potential.

Nick noted that there are a large number of water strategies that need to be noted against this action. Rhys proposed that the KPI is how well are we monitoring these catchment strategies.

ACTION: Emily to communicate with Nick to ensure the action notes the multiple strategies concerning water.

4. Consideration of New Risks and Vulnerabilities

A new project risk around capacity to deliver adaptation options was raised. 

5. Funding Opportunities

Emily to circulate by email.

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