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DCERG Minutes 21st April

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Minutes 21st April. Download a PDF of the minutes here.


Phil Norrey Devon County Council (Chair)
Doug Eltham Devon County Council
Emily Reed Devon Climate Emergency
Ellie Rowlands Devon Climate Emergency
David Eaton Teignbridge District Council
Helen Dobby Environment Agency
Harry Barton Devon Wildlife Trust
Emily Bullock South Western Ambulance Service Trust
Andy England Torbay Council
Alex Gandy Dartmoor National Park Authority
Sara Gibbs Devon Public Health
Drew Powell South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils
Janet Williams Torridge District Council
Bruce Luxton Exeter City Council
James Cooper Environment Agency
Clare Reid Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities
Theresa Farris Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
Dan Ulanowsky Pennon Group


James Szymankiewicz Natural Devon
Andrew Butler National Farmers’ Union

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were AGREED as a true record of the discussion.

One action is carried across from last month:

ACTION: Doug Eltham to facilitate conversation between partners on civil engineering decarbonisation.

2. Project Progress Report

Project Management Update

Ellie Rowlands and Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

It was AGREED that the DCERG will delegate to the Tactical Group the responsibility of amending the project strapline to incorporate the climate resilience agenda and the ecological emergency. It was further AGREED that the final selection will be put to a vote on social media.

The first edition of the monthly electronic newsletter has been issued to over 1000 recipients.

ACTION: All to send copy for the newsletter on a monthly basis to Ellie Rowlands.

Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 these minutes.

Following last month’s decision by DCERG to ask the Net-Zero Task Force to produce a version 1 Devon Carbon Plan ahead of the delayed citizens’ assembly and a subsequent version 2 after the assembly, the Task Force has suggested a revised timetable. The draft version 1 Plan would be drafted ready for public consultation by the end of August 2020, which will have been endorsed by the DCERG partners.

The version 2 Plan is entirely dependent on when restrictions of mass gatherings are lifted to enable the citizens’ assembly to occur. Earliest estimates are that the version 2 Plan could be prepared for consultation by April 2021. The UK Climate Assembly is moving to an online platform as of this week, the effectiveness of which will be monitored by the Net-Zero Task Force and suggested for use in Devon if felt appropriate but there are concerns about how to ensure engagement in an online environment.

The Group AGREED the revised Plan timetables.

Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Doug Eltham and Helen Dobby provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

Dan Ulanowsky advised that South West Water (SWW) is developing a revised adaptation plan to be ready in 2021 and it might be appropriate for SWW to get more involved in the work of this Group.

ACTION: Dan to look at SWW’s involvement in the Group.

3. Influencing a Low-Carbon Covid-19 Reset

The Group discussed what preparations could start to be made now to influence the economic recovery from Covid-19 to ensure low-carbon is the centre of the new normal.

The region is well-prepared to encourage a low-carbon recovery as the Growth Prospectus of the Great South West consortium of Local Enterprise Partnerships has low-carbon as a central theme, which had already been discussed with the Treasury before Covid. The low-carbon theme is also reflected in the West of England Gateway Growth Prospectus focussed around Bristol and the Back the South West consortium’s South West Growth Charter and so a strong voice can come from the south west to government that low-carbon can secure the desired economic recovery.

At a local level, the Group discussed how staff at the partner organisations have quickly adopted agile working using the technology recently introduced. Everyone is on a steep learning curve but it’s working and whilst some reports have looked at the challenges there are also benefits for work/life balance for those that normally commute. How do we sustain these behaviours post Covid? Collectively, the Response Group organisations could show leadership to others.

It was AGREED that the centrepiece of the agenda of the May DCERG will be the influencing of Covid-19 Reset.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to invite Devon County Council’s Economy and Enterprise service to provide an update at the May meeting.

4. Greenhouse Gas Removal Funding Bid

The Group received a recommendation from the Tactical Group to submit a letter of support to the University of Exeter for a funding bid being prepared by a consortium of organisations in the south west, led by the University of Exeter, to look at the detailed issues and co-benefits realisation of planting woodlands and hedgerows for carbon sequestration purposes.

Harry Barton advised that there are various initiatives ongoing that link to this bid, including the Nature Recovery Network and the Saving Devon’s Treescapes projects which will provide complementary activity and should be referenced in the letter.

It was AGREED that the DCERG will prepare a support letter to accompany the funding bid.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to prepare and submit a letter of support.

5. Local Updates  

Partner organisations provided brief updates of activity contributing to the implementation of the Devon Climate Declaration, which included:

Dartmoor National Park Authority’s carbon reduction plan for its own operation has been signed-off. The Park is now focussing on how it can contribute to carbon sequestration through significant habitat enhancement.  

Devon County Council is developing the detail of its Carbon Reduction Action Plan following the adoption of a strategic framework to reach net-zero by 2030.

South Hams and West Devon Councils have appointed a Climate Change Officer through an online interview process.

6. Next Meeting

Next meeting is the 22nd May 10:00 – 11:00.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report

Period: March – April 2020

Status Indicator key:

Red = Serious issues that requires Response Group intervention;

Amber = Minor issue that will initially be managed by the secretariat, but the Response Group should be aware;

Green = No issue.

1. Project Management Update

a. Activity Over the Past Month

Project Communications  
New resources and tips for communities, local councils and individuals now online.   First electronic
Newsletter was published on the 2nd April.    ‘Website phase 2’has been delayed due to the Devon County Council web team focussing on Covid-19. Alternative strategy is to use an external web developer, which is being explored.   
Presence of the Climate Emergency at the County Show has been confirmed. County show postponed until August.  
Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration  
The recommendations discussed at the previous meeting were endorsed by the DCERG on the 17th March.

Subsequently, Cornwall Council has launched a consultation on a Climate Change Development Plan Document. Doug Eltham will follow this up with Cornwall Council to compare notes.  

b. Activity Expected Next Month

Project Communications

  • Design of ‘Website Phase 2’ will continue.
  • Planning of the Devon Climate Emergency presence at the County Show will continue.
  • Amending the project strapline to reflect the resilience element of the project and the ecological emergency. Tactical Group will determine two options that will be put to a public vote via social media. 
  • Organisations’ climate commitments will begin to be compiled on the website.

Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration

  • The workshop proposed to explore the ‘unintended consequences’ of using the climate emergency as a material planning consideration will need to occur virtually – considering options for this. 

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan, including consideration of the earliest credible date that should be set for net-zero emissions.

a. Activity Over the Past Month

Online Call for Evidence  
Summaries of the Call for Evidence have been published online.  
Refining Actions for the Carbon Plan   The Task Force continues to identify the key actions for the carbon plan arising from the call for evidence and hearings. Task Force leads for each topic have met virtually with Emily Reed and Doug Eltham to progress this, as well as a session to start applying the principles of ‘systems thinking’ to the Plan.  
Implications of the latest Budget, Environment Bill and Agriculture are also being reviewed.   
Citizens’ Assembly and Carbon Plan Timetable
Due to coronavirus, the timetable of the citizens’ assembly is now uncertain until the advice against mass gatherings is removed.  
A timetable for a initial version of the Plan informed by the Call for Evidence and Thematic Hearings, with a subsequent revision informed by the Citizens’ Assembly is being determined by the Task Force, as requested by the DCERG at its March meeting.  
This means that the timetable of the ESRC-funded project to evaluate the effectiveness of the citizens’ assembly may not align with the revised timetable for the Carbon Plan. Patrick Devine-Wright is identifying options.    
Public Engagement
Outline arrangements had been made for three public events to share the key findings and a Q&A with task force members. Future of these is uncertain due to Covid 19.

b. Activity Expected Next Month

Refining Actions for the Carbon Plan

  • Begin understanding the carbon saving potential of the actions. This may involve further conversations with additional witnesses and/or commission research as deemed necessary.
  • Over the next couple of months, the secretariat will visit project partners to discuss the emerging priority actions and understand what resources these would need and how those resources can be found.   
  • The Task Force will explore organising a virtual workshop to embed a systems thinking approach into the drawing up of the Devon Carbon Plan.

Citizens’ Assembly and Carbon Plan Timetable

  • A timetable for an initial Carbon Plan and subsequent revision will be determined.
  • Specific issues that the assembly will need to deliberate will continue to be compiled by the Net-Zero Task Force and research around these will be undertaken as necessary.
  • Watching brief will remain on government advice regarding mass gatherings.  

Public Engagement

  • Planning of the engagement events will continue to determine whether they can be held online.

3. Climate Impacts Group Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use the expertise of the Local Resilience Forum to assess the current risks in the Community Risk Register that specifically ascertain to climate impact over the next 10-20 years.

[Note – the Group’s Terms of Reference are under review – see Section 3a]

a. Activity Over the Past Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change  
The Met Office’s summary of the 2018 climate projections will be used to inform narratives describing in qualitative terms the effects of climate change on:  
Flood and coastal risk (led by the Environment Agency)
Health (led by Public Health England)
The natural environment (led by the Local Nature Partnership)
The completion date has been set for May 2020, but this is likely to be revised due to the Groups’ members being closely involved in the Covid-19 response.   Devon County Council, on behalf of The Local Nature Partnership, has appointed the Westcountry Rivers Trust to undertake the review of climate risks for the natural environment.
Review of the Terms of Reference
The revised Terms of Reference has been drafted and will be agreed at the next meeting of the Group on the 20th April.  
Chair of the Climate Impacts Group (CIG) Paul Netherton, Devon and Cornwall Police, has stepped down as the chair of the CIG due to a change to his national role around resilience. Helen Dobby, Area Director of the Environment Agency, has accepted a nomination as chair which needs to be agreed by the CIG membership at its next meeting (likely to be April 20th, Covid-19 dependent).n/a

b. Activity Expected Next Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

Development of the narratives will continue.

Review of the Terms of Reference and new Chair

Terms of Reference will be adopted and new chair appointed, dependent on Covid-19.

4. Summary Comments

The Devon Carbon Plan is now in a phase of understanding the key actions that could be implemented locally and choices that should be deliberated by the citizens’ assembly.

The preparation of the Devon Carbon Plan will be delayed due to the inability to stage the citizens’ assembly. Clarity on this will await government advice but an interim timetable is being developed.

The Climate Impacts Group has started producing the impact narratives.

Overall, the project continues to perform well given the Covid-19 restrictions.

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