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DCERG minutes 12th November

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group – minutes of meeting 12 November 2019.
Download a PDF copy of the minutes here.


Phil Norrey, Devon County Council (Chair)
Doug Eltham, Devon County Council
Stephen Wolford, Mid Devon District Council
Jenny Wallace, Torridge District Council
Janet Williams, Torridge District Council
James Szymankiewicz, Natural Devon
Emily Bullock, South Western Ambulance Service Trust
Emily Reed, Devon County Council
Peter Chamberlain, Devon County Council
Clare Reid, Exmoor National Park Authority
Andy England, Torbay Council
Cara Stobart, Devon Association of Local Councils
Bruce Luxton, Exeter City Council
Tracey Polak, Public Health Devon
Emma Page, University of Exeter
Nicki Collas, Devon and Cornwall Police
Patrick Devine-Wright, University of Exeter


Virginia Pearson, Devon Public Health
Ken Miles, North Devon District Council
Amanda Palmer, Devon County Council
Craig Nowell, University of Exeter
David Ralph, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
Jim Colwell, Devon and Cornwall Police
Mark Goodwin, University of Exeter
Mark Rice, Environment Agency
Penny Tranter, Met Office
Mel Squires, National Farmers’ Union
Mike Stamp, Devon and Cornwall Police
Ed Mitchell, South West Water
Neil Hamlyn, Local Resilience Forum

Matters Arising from the Minutes

a. Consideration of wider ecological impacts

At present, the Terms of Reference for DCERG refer to both the environmental and community implications of climate change.  However, it is not clear how these environmental (or, more specifically, ecological) aspects will be addressed through the currently pursued process / identified outcomes.

ACTION: The Local Nature Partnership will discuss this issue at its next Board meeting in December and, following this, Peter Chamberlain and James Szymankiewicz will draft revised Terms of Reference to bring to the DCERG at its next meeting on December 18th.

b. Resourcing for communications

A job role for a communications intern for the climate emergency is being advertised and is expected to be appointed before Christmas ready to start in post in the New Year.

Liaison with Somerset

Phil Norrey has met with Michelle Cusack at Somerset County Council to share approaches to the climate emergency. Exmoor National Park Authority is split between Devon and Somerset and so it will be advantageous for similar timetables to carbon plan development, which currently appears to be the case.

ACTION: Phil Norrey and Clare Reid to meet to discuss the detail of Phil’s conversation with Michelle.

Update from the Net-Zero task Force

Patrick Devine-Wright provided an update. The Call for Evidence is open on the website and the Thematic Hearings are planned ahead of Christmas.

The DCERG thanked Patrick and the other volunteer members of the Task Force for their continued time contribution and commitment to keep the project moving.

Janet Williams and Jenny Wallace expressed disappointment that a Thematic Hearing has not been organised in northern Devon. Doug Eltham explained that this was due to a number of factors including venue and Task Force availability. The DCERG discussed where the Citizens’ Assembly meetings should be held and AGREED that at least one session should be in organised in the north of the county.

Patrick Devine-Wright raised the risk that infrastructure investment decisions in Devon are currently being made using existing policy and guidance. These investments, for example in housing, transport and energy, could lock Devon in to emitting carbon well beyond 2030. 

The DCERG AGREED that it would be helpful for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan project on behalf of all of the local authorities engaged in the Devon Climate Emergency to review the powers available to local authorities to use the climate emergency as a material planning consideration to immediately influence the carbon intensity of various types of new infrastructure rather than waiting for new Local Plans to be developed. This review also needs to consider the implications of doing this in terms of what would happen in the formal appeals processes and also the implications for tangential issues, such as the provision of affordable housing, accessibility, prosperity and energy supply. The outcomes of this work need to be reported back to the DCERG and fed into the Devon Carbon Plan as additional evidence.

Andy England advised that Cornwall Council is reviewing similar issues and should be approached for knowledge sharing.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to arrange for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan project to receive this request and determine the resources necessary to take it forward.

Funding for the evaluation of the Citizens’ Assembly

Patrick Devine-Wright and Alice Moseley at the University of Exeter have been successful in receiving £20k from the Economy and Society Research Council to evaluate the effectiveness of the citizens’ assembly next year.

The aims of the project are:

  1. To conduct a rapid review of evidence on the value of deliberative public engagement on climate change
  2. To make recommendations about the design and implementation of a Devon Citizens Assembly on Climate Change
  3. To assess how this Citizens’ Assembly is perceived by participants and project stakeholders, in terms of legitimacy, transparency and effectiveness, through co-created research and evaluation
  4. To generate insights concerning the value of this form of democratic engagement for other topics of interest to the Council
  5. To impact on the use of deliberative engagement on climate change by local authorities across the UK and internationally
  6. To feed into discussions of the national citizens assembly on climate change about the value and outcomes of stakeholder and citizen involvement

The review of evidence and recommendations about the design of the Devon Citizens’ Assembly are due by the end of November.

Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Doug Eltham provided an update. The Group held a workshop on the 16th October with the Met Office, Environment Agency, Public Health Devon and the University of Exeter to look at climate projections. A summary of this is due in December.

Next step is to understand the implications for preparedness related to the risks held in the Community Risk Register, and identify new risks, including those for the wider environment. Doug Eltham, Neil Hamlyn, Amanda Palmer and Peter Chamberlain are to meet before the next DCERG meeting to understand the resource requirements of this next step.

Local Updates

Partner organisations provided brief updates of activity contributing to the implementation of the Devon Climate Declaration.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is December 18th 14:00 – 15:00.

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