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Climate Task Force, Meeting Minutes, 13th March 2024

Attendees

Claire Pearce

Harriet Bell

Ian Bailey

Ian Hutchcroft

James Shorten

Jo Atkey

Hannah Lawrie

Paula Hewitt

Richard Betts

Ashish Ghadiali

Tim Jones

Gill Westcott

Nik Bowyer

Laura Cardenas

Apologies

Patrick Devine-Wright

Peter Nickol

George Middlemiss

Kalkidan Legesse

Lyndis Cole

Clark Denby

Secretariat

Emily Reed

Doug Eltham

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting 

Emily ran through the actions from the previous meeting.

Actions carried over: 

Emily asked for clarity on the purpose of sharing the planning checklist. This was felt to be so that local councillors would be aware of how planning can be helping with climate change.

ACTION: Secretariat to put the planning checklist on the website in the section for town and parish councillors.

The Land Use Framework pilot has completed and its report is published. Next steps are being explored which is partly waiting for government to confirm national plans for Land Use Frameworks.

ACTION: Share link to the Land Use Framework pilot report.

2. Monitoring Indicators

A time series for indicators being used to monitor the Carbon Plan is being prepared. These were shared with the Task Force. For some it is not clear where the data will be found yet, or if it’s available at all. The University of Exeter has started helping to find data and suggest additional or alternative indicators. The Task Force are invited to suggest further indicators. These will be published on the website.

Tim encouraged a link to be made to the Biodiversity Net-Gain (BNG) monitoring activity now starting in the county. Emily has spoken with the officer taking forward BNG who has said that currently there is little data available, but in time this will improve.

Gill asked whether the minus is negative or positive for net-emissions from land use. Emily confirmed it’s negative, so land is currently a sink.

Richard asked if there is a methodology for each indicator. Emily said the source is provided for each indicator, which is mainly government data.

Ian and Richard noted the drop in emissions during the pandemic, and in particular how small the drop was considering the extent of the social interruptions we experienced. This highlights that low carbon technology is fundamental to the net-zero transition. Tim agreed and noted the forthcoming changes to new build housing and the increasing requirement for the energy efficiency of housing.

Ian suggested logging new ASHPs being installed via MCS data.

Paula suggested we can add a metric about the number of electric vehicle charge posts installed.  

ACTION: Emily to add the suggested indicators to the list.

3. Project Progress Report

Emily advised that following the request of this Task Force we have started recording progress against all of the actions in each chapter in the Carbon Plan (rather than just the priority actions). Each chapter is reviewed twice a year, which means we haven’t yet got through the full cycle of reviewing all actions in every chapter, hence some chapters have only the priority actions reviewed.

The most common issues being reported that are preventing progress in each chapter of the Carbon Plan are 1) the need for more resources, and 2) the need for new guidance/legislation/appetite from government.

Tim noted that partnerships with businesses are going to be key to funding the transition, as is enabling individuals and organisations to shift their planned spending into net-zero solutions – e.g. buying an electric car instead of an ICE car, and a heat pump instead of a boiler.

Paula reported that the South West Infrastructure Partnership has been running workshops on adaptation. The first in Bristol last month had 150 attendees. The next is in May in Exeter.

ACTION: Paula to use DCE channels to communicate this event via Emily.

Devolution is progressing. Torbay and Devon councils are currently determining how the £16m capital could be spent to best effect. Emily suggested the Task Force could think about net-zero opportunities for this.  Tim added that North Devon and Torridge has £20m Levelling Up funding from government, too.

Emily said there will be a number of competing bids for the new South West Net-Zero Hub Low Carbon Delivery Funding. Collaboration between local authorities is occurring in some instances but generally the cap of £100k per application means that involving multiple partners results in too much dilution.

4. Adaptation Progress Report

Emily introduced the actions in the Adaptation Plan that are prioritised for delivery over the next five years and summarised activity against each of the amber and red actions. The detail about what is happening and the issues hampering further delivery is available in the Miro Board.

Richard asked what would need to happen to make an amber action become green. Emily said it’s a qualitative judgement currently based on geography and scope of activity. Richard recommended looking at developing a ‘What does good look like’ for every action, as well as the KPIs.

The actions that raised discussion were:

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.

Harriet reported that there is inconsistent support for water management in the landscape across the county.

Tim said that there’s evidence that water meters are very effective at suppressing demand. Water vouchers are being piloted in Cambridgeshire.

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.

Harriet commented that an understanding of how much more water is going to be needed for irrigation in the future seems to be lacking. Emily noted that South West Water are aware of the risk that farmers currently using boreholes may need to switch to the public supply in the future.

HBEA–1 – Develop a Climate Change awareness campaign to inform stakeholders, including the public, of the projected range of changes and their impacts alongside how we are adapting and what we can all do to respond.

Richard reported that the Climate Change Committee has today published its response to the National Adaptation Programme. Richard offered to work with Emily to understand the learnings from this for Devon. Emily added that at a recent meeting of Defra’s Local Adaptation Advisory Panel she had raised this issue of increased public awareness.

HBEE–4 – Policymakers to engage with the public to ensure awareness and understanding of the predicted impacts of climate change around the coast generally, and on their local communities specifically – to co-produce knowledge and agree viable actions.

Tim mentioned an initiative led by Torbay Council a few years ago which would be worth taking any learnings from.

HBEC–3 – Work with partners to develop the materials and training to support in the establishment and operation of local Community Resilience Groups (or similar existing groups) and the development of community adaptation plans.

Tim suggested that Neighbourhood Plan forums would be a good group to engage with as many of these will have been considering resilience as part of the planning activities.

5. Built Environment

The detail about what is happening and the issues hampering further delivery is available in the Miro Board. The actions that raised discussion were:

B1 – Expand whole-house retrofit by working with social landlords to aggregate their housing stock and collectively procure retrofit.

Ian said we need to increase the volume to get the price down. The Response Group could bring the social landlords together to get this moving. Tim added that skills will be factor to overcome as well, which could be addressed through a partnership with the further education colleges.

Doug suggested a retrofit summit could be organised to have a deep conversation about the long-term solutions for retrofit, as even the grant funded schemes are not achieving the results they’ve been designed to either.

ACTION: Doug to suggest a retrofit summit to the Energy Saving Devon partnership. The LEAD project could provide resource for this.


B8 – Evaluate the use of planning conditions to require energy-efficiency upgrades at the time of extending a home, and any other local regulatory opportunities that arise.

B11 – Produce a regularly-updated Devon-wide evidence base on the costs of developing net-zero carbon homes for use in Local Plan viability appraisals.

B12 – Local Plan reviews to implement zero-carbon buildings in operation and set embodied carbon targets as soon as possible where viable.

B14 – Planning authorities to ensure vegetation, and the necessary arrangements for maintenance, is included within new development to aid building energy efficiency. 

Doug said that Tim and James have met with the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers Group to develop solutions to the resourcing issues that are hampering delivery on B8 – B14, and others relating to planning in the Cross Cutting Themes section of the Plan.  These solutions were presented to Team Devon (council leaders and chief executives) in September 2023 but further information about the status of each local authorities’ Local Plan review status was requested before deciding on a route forward. That information has been compiled so there is now an opportunity to return to Team Devon with further proposals.

Ashish suggested bringing planners together again to refine proposals and get a better understanding of the issues, and offered to assist with this.

ACTION:  Doug to raise with the DCPOG, Tactical Group and Response Group to get buy-in to do this.


B16 – All organisations to review external lighting provision and switch to LED technology.

Paula mentioned that getting community support for reducing street lighting can be challenging and it can be detrimental to encouraging walking and cycling. Nik agreed and added that the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) can be constraining on this ambition, and the same for Action B17. Lobbying for change on the DMRB would be one way to go on this.

ACTION: Emily to ask DCC engineers the extent to which DMRB is a barrier to change currently.


B17 – Work with National Highways to review opportunities for rationalisation of streetlight provision in its Devon network.

Nik noted that National Highways has its own carbon management plan so it good to understand what that means for streetlamps on principal routes in Devon, which will be the M5, A30 and A38. Emily said enquiries are underway with National Highways.

Harriet asked about the extent to which the Local Nature Recovery Strategy will dovetail with the climate agenda, as lighting has implications for wildlife. Doug said the links are strong as the County Ecologist at DCC feeds into the DCC lighting policy and is leading the LNRS. The County Ecologist is also in the same immediate team as Emily and Doug. There is Local Nature Partnership representation in the Climate Emergency Partnership governance arrangements and vice-versa. The Carbon Plan is clear about the link between the climate and ecological emergencies.

ACTION: Emily to add notes to the progress reports about where the ecological emergency projects are linking with climate emergency projects.

6. Economy & Resources

The detail about what is happening and the issues hampering further delivery is available in the Miro Board. The actions that raised discussion were:

R7 – Consider reducing the frequency or volume of black bin collections.

Hannah said that government will be consulting on whether there should be a backstop of a minimum waste collection frequency of two weeks. Emily said that the Devon CC waste team is keeping in touch with government.

ACTION: When the consultation becomes live, the Task Force could submit a consultation response on this.

R17 – Encourage food supply-chain businesses to implement the Courtauld Commitment using the free toolkit.

ACTION: Emily to check with Environmental Health and Trading Standards colleagues about whether business support programmes advise on food waste issues. If not, they could be.

R18 – Enhance the capture of emissions from waste-water treatment.

Richard suggested benchmarking with other water companies about their practices.

ACTION: Emily to research what other water companies are doing.

R26 – Support the development of regional banks. 

The South West Mutual has decided that the time to launch a regional bank is not now. They are still looking for opportunities and the right time. Tim said that Brunel, who manage the pensions funds, might be open to a conversation.

ACTION: Emily to mention the Brunel opportunity to South West Mutual.

7. Update on Marine and Aviation

Paula said the aviation and port sectors are represented on the SWIP. The port sector is looking at compensating for environmental impact from proposed expansion related to the Celtic Sea wind farm. Tim added that electrification of powertrains is being piloted in the county, as well as sails on bulk carriers.

The aviation sector is planning to expand, and particularly Bristol is wanting to retain its leadership in the region. The sector is looking at hydrogen infrastructure. Tim added that innovation in electric flights is also progressing.

8. Next Meeting

13th June 2pm

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