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Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting, 11th July 2023

Attendees

Meg Booth
Sally Basker
Sofie Herd
Sara Gibbs
Emily Reed
Charlotte Brown
Polly Frost
Chris Clarke
Adam Williams
Victoria Hatfield
Lesley Newport
Claire Gibson
Devon County Council (Chair)
Exeter Science Park
National Farmers’ Union
Public Health Devon
Devon Climate Emergency
Devon Climate Emergency
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Wales and West Utilities
South Hams and West Devon Councils
Exeter City Council
Environment Agency
Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Apologies

Doug Eltham
David Bartram
John Amosford
David Edmondson
Donna Sibley
Mark Clapham
Mark Kentell
Keir Duffin
Rebecca Miller
David Eaton
Paul Elliott
Lewis Garvey
Jason Ball
Emmanuelle Marshall
Penny Tranter
Drew Powell
Stephen Walford
Matt O’Dowd
Alex Gandy
David Rose
Claire Reid
James Cooper
Harry Barton
Angus Berry
Devon County Council (Environment Group)
Exeter City Council
Public Health Devon
Torbay Council
Torridge and North Devon District Councils
Devon Association of Local Councils
North Devon Council
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Plymouth City Council
Teignbridge District Council
Plymouth City Council
Wales and West Utilities
Mid Devon District Council
Plymouth City Council
Met Office
South Hams and West Devon District Councils
Mid Devon District Council
National Grid ESO
Dartmoor National Park Authority
South West Water
Exmoor National Park Authority
Environment Agency
Devon Wildlife Trust
South West Water

1. Climate Adaptation Strategy Consultation Update

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

Emily advised that 209 responses to the consultation had been received in total. Eighty percent of responses are in support of the Climate Adaptation Strategy and the majority of responses are from individuals rather than organisations. The responses reflect a high level of concern about climate change, with fifty-six percent of responses stating that they are “extremely concerned”. Community newsletters were the most prevalent way that people had heard about the consultation. Further analysis will be conducted on the feedback received and compiled in a consultation report for the Response Group to consider.

Concern was raised about the low response rate from younger sections of society, for instance two percent of responses were from 25–34-year-olds. Emily responded that higher education institutions had been approached regarding a stand to promote the consultation, however apart from the University of Exeter this had not been possible. Sara argued that young people might not be interested in this form of climate change engagement. Polly agreed that young people seem cynical about adult forums for action on climate change to date, but otherwise care deeply about climate change. Claire proposed that it might be more constructive to engage young people around specific topics and elements of action on climate change.

ACTION: Emily to provide further information on the geographical distribution of the consultation responses.

ACTION: Emily to re-approach Devon Youth Parliament to explore fresh opportunities for collaboration.

ACTION: Emily to look for national data on concern about climate change/ opinions on climate change as a benchmark to compare the consultation results to.

2. Economy and Resources Priority Actions Progress Report

Emily presented the progress report, focusing on the three actions which were classified as having an ‘amber’ status. No actions had a ‘red’ status, and 4 actions were considered ‘green’.

Discussion of action R19 took place – Anchor institutions to embed local social and environmental value further into tendering procedures.

Sara Gibbs reminded the group that there are many organisations in the partnership and all anchor institutions both in the public and private sector have a contribution to make towards this action – it’s not just an action for Devon County Council.  

ACTION: Sara Gibbs to share a report which Public Health have produced on anchor institutions.

Claire raised that it would be beneficial for the progress reports to capture more of the activity happening in Devon outside of Local Authorities. Sally proposed that we reach out to the B-corporation community to gather business activity. Victoria suggested that a public call out is made through social media and newsletters to request updates on activity towards the priority actions.

A discussion occurred regarding how the group robustly assesses the RAG rating of actions, considering how activity might vary across Devon. Meg reminded the group that these meetings were intended as an opportunity to challenge the status of the actions. Claire raised concerns that the current approach might lead to the impression that we are on track to achieve our emissions reduction targets when this might not end up being the case, which could undermine confidence in the process longer term.

Claire asked for the role of the Innovation Board as an oversight group to be reviewed as it is currently meeting infrequently.

ACTION: The secretariat to review the oversight group for action R5.

ACTION: Emily to add a hyperlink to more information on the oversight group of each action to the report so the Response Group can understand who is reporting on the action.

ACTION: Emily to insert the diagram summarising the oversight groups for the priority actions into the priority action report.

ACTION: Emily to share the annual schedule of Progress Report themes with the Response Group, as well as the report questions to ensure the group has time to respond.

ACTION: Emily to consider if the latest Committee on Climate Change progress report has any data which will allow us to better benchmark our progress.

3. Net-Zero and Adaptation Delivery Issues

Sara Gibbs raised that ensuring the health sector in Devon is engaged in the climate agenda remains important and that a paper is going to the Health and Wellbeing Board in July.

Victoria encouraged the group to remain engaged with the University of Exeter’s Green Futures initiative. Additionally, Exeter will soon be sharing information on the outputs of their solar farm.

Following previous discussions and advice at the Response Group Sally Basker has been able to purchase cheaper energy for the Science Park.

Claire shared that the Great Southwest Energy Prospectus was shared with HotSW Local Economic Partnership. It was well received. A press release will be issued.

ACTION: Claire to share the press release on the Energy Prospectus with the Response Group.

Chris reported that the Devon Energy Planning Group met and received a presentation from Catapult. The group will now consider the method to take forward for the energy plan and steps which can be taken in the meantime.

4. Tour of exemplar building at the Science Park

Sally Basker led a tour of buildings at the Science Park, explaining the features which contributed to the energy efficiency ratings of the buildings.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report 

Period: June to July 2023

Status Indicator Key:  

🔴 [RED] = Significant issue 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. Partnership Update 

1.1 General Project Communications [GREEN] 

1.1.1 Following 🟢 [GREEN]

Growth rate remains positive on all channels. We have now passed 4000 newsletter subscribers, making up 37% of our total audience.

A line graph showing the increase in online communications following
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Business Engagement 🟢 [GREEN]

A week-long online survey ran at the end of April to understand the usefulness of, and appetite for, a business badge scheme to recognise local businesses acting on net-zero. The findings have been analysed and next steps are to explore a partnership with the Green Accord and to produce a printable DCE poster for partners to display in the windows of buildings that have been upgraded, particularly via the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

A presentation from Exeter City Council providing further information about the Green Accord took place at the latest Tactical Group meeting in June. Two printable DCE posters have been produced and distributed – one with stock text and one that can be personalised – for partners to use.

Net-Zero Visions Curriculum Material 🟢 [GREEN]

The resource pack has been finalised following feedback and will be made available to all schools. The Sustainability Bulletin that goes to all schools in Devon will be used to do this.

A selection of resources created for the Net Zero Visions project will be available on the Devon Climate Emergency website soon.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement Service 🟢 [GREEN]

The design and scoping work is underway, being led by Devon County Council. The initial research phase to understand the gaps in community support that need filling by the project has concluded. This is now being used to design the support programme for 2023/24, which will be an extension of the Community Action Group initiative. An additional extension is being planned for delivery from April 2024.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

Activity is recorded centrally on the Taking Action pages of the Devon Climate Emergency website.

The pages are now filterable by location and by the associated Theme and Goal in the Devon Carbon Plan.

  • East Devon’s Streetscene have increased the number of greenspaces and verges that will not be mowed between April and September.
  • Devon County Council have secured £2.1 million in active travel funding from central government to support a number of priority schemes in Exeter, Newton Abbot, North Devon and Torridge.
  • Devon County Council is one of 21 local authorities across the UK to receive the Fast Followers funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  • Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) are being supported by Aviva and a generous legacy from a DWT supporter to create Atlantic rainforest near Totnes.
  • The Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) has launched the South West’s first smart local energy system.
  • A ‘water batteries’ project delivered by Westcountry Rivers Trust and South West Water will pay farmers in Devon and Cornwall to create water storage on their land.
  • Charities and businesses can apply to the East Devon District Council Culture, Leisure and Tourism Fund (CLTF) to help them decarbonise.
  • Volunteers at Exeter Central Library and St Thomas Library are running community fridge initiatives to address food waste.
  • South Hams District Council and the University of Plymouth are two of several partners in the Electric Seaway Project, which is set to deliver marine electric charging infrastructure along the south coast using £3.2 million of government funding.

1.3 New Governance Structure 🟢 [GREEN]

  • We are delighted that Claire Pearce has accepted the invitation to chair the Climate Task Force. Attention is now on who else needs to join the Climate Task Force to ensure a spread of necessary expertise and experience.
  • An initial meeting of the Devon Energy Planning Group occurred on the 22nd June. A second meeting is scheduled for the 19th July.
  • The existing partnerships and groups that are overseeing deliver of the priority actions in the Carbon Plan are assisting with preparing the monthly progress reports.

2. Devon Carbon Plan 🟢 [GREEN]

Partners continue to deliver the Devon Carbon Plan. This month a progress report on the Economy and Resources section’s priority actions are available to the Response Group to review.

3. Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan 🟢 [GREEN]

The consultation closed on 30th June. The final number of representatives is about 210 – pending any last-minute postal submissions. Early analysis shows that 75% respondents support the Strategy. Reasons for those not supporting the strategy are being analysed. A full report should be available for the August Response Group meeting.

4. Devolution Update

Further enhancements continue to be added to the Net-Zero and Environment ask about energy planning (incorporating retrofit and unlocking grid issues) and natural environment improvement.

5. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan.
  • The new governance arrangements are being used to prepare the monthly Priority Action progress report.
  • The consultation on the draft Adaptation Strategy has closed and submissions are being analysed.

         

                                             

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