Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting, 19th January 2022

Attendees

Phil Norrey – Devon County Council 

Doug Eltham – Devon County Council (Environment Group) 

Emily Widdecombe – Devon Climate Emergency 

Emily Reed – Devon Climate Emergency 

Chris Clarke – Wales and West Utilities 

James Cooper – Environment Agency 

Emmanuelle Marshall – Plymouth City Council 

Rebecca Miller – Plymouth City Council 

Keir Duffin – Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise) 

David Eaton – Teignbridge District Council 

Sara Gibbs – Public Health Devon 

Claire Gibso – Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership 

Mark Clapham – Devon Association of Local Councils 

Mark Kentell – North Devon Council 

Andrew Butler – National Farmers’ Union  

Penny Tranter – Met Office 

Clare Reid – Exmoor National Park Authority  

David Edmondson – Torbay Council 

Fraser Browning – University of Exeter 

Harry Barton – Devon Wildlife Trust 

Angus Berry – South West Water 

Apologies

David Bartram – Exeter City Council 

Neil Hamlyn – Local Resilience Forum 

Mark Rice – Environment Agency 

Helen Dobby – Environment Agency 

Adam Williams – South Hams and West Devon Councils 

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 General Project Communications

Emily Widdecombe provided an update reflecting Section 1.1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes. Emily noted that a change of mailing platform for the monthly newsletter has not negatively affected the rate of new subscribers.  

No further questions asked.  

2.2 Net-Zero Task Force Update

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2.1 and 2.2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes and invited questions. 

Doug Eltham asked if DCERG members were aware of any fundamental issues their organisation has already identified with the drafting of the partnership’s responses to the Citizens’ Assembly’s resolutions. It would be helpful to know these as soon as possible to provide sufficient time to address the issues ahead of the consultation in March. None were noted at this stage.  

2.3 Climate Impacts Group Update

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes. No further questions asked. 

3. Partner Updates

Devon County Council

Phil Norrey reported that Devon County Council (DCC) is restructuring its service to give more prominence to climate change. A directorate is proposed titled ‘Climate Change, Environment, Connectivity and Growth’, which brings together the existing environment, transport, economy and waste services.  

Additionally, DCC has prepared a Clean Growth Vision for the West of East Devon with East Devon District Council. This is designed to facilitate net-zero in this growth area and provides the next level of detail beneath the Devon Carbon Plan. Opportunities in the Vision will need to be embedded in the Local Plan. The model is applicable to other parts of Devon and other districts are expressing interest. Chris Clarke mentioned that Western Power Distribution is undertaking a similar visioning project in Blaenau Gwent that is looking at options for decarbonising industrial estates.  

Wales and West Utilities 

Chris Clarke reported that the Regional Energy Pathways project has been allocated to the Energy Systems Catapult. An additional project is under development to help parishes do their own energy modelling and there could be an opportunity for DCC to support it. Chris will keep the DCERG updated on these. 

Exmoor National Park Authority  

Clare Reid advised that each national park is calculating a carbon footprint of its area. These are expected to be ready by the end of March. This will include consumption emissions associated with visitors.  

The Authority has been offered a grant to refit is outdoor education centre with net-zero technology. Oil boiler will be replaced with biomass and solar.  

Teignbridge District Council 

David Eaton reported that the decarbonisation projects on three leisure centres and Forde House are progressing well. The public consultation on the allocation of sites for potential wind energy closes next week.  

HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership 

Claire Gibson said the Local Enterprise Partnership is offering £2m funding to Build Back Better. This is focussed on growing environmental intelligence, agritech, marine and using 5g to help the net-zero challenge.  

Regen has been commissioned to do a Floating Offshore Wind Study to look at the opportunity for Devon and Somerset from the latest round of Crown Estate auctions in the Celtic Sea.  

Torbay Council 

David Edmondson reported a successful Torbay Climate Conversation event during the COP26 fortnight that attracted 100 people.  

The principle of extra staff to work in the climate change team has been agreed.  

A light-touch review of the Local Plan will be starting soon.  

David said he and Doug Eltham had attended a meeting with the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss their Green and Sustainability Plan. Links with the DCERG were discussed and it was noted that links should be strengthened.  

ACTION: Phil Norrey to discuss opportunities for closer collaboration with the NHS CCG.  

North Devon Council 

Mark Kentell advised that a restructure has just been completed to create a new service area called Environmental Enhancement.  

The Authority’s overarching Environmental Strategy is being finalised, which will be aligned to the Devon Carbon Plan and national approach.  

Relationships are being strengthened with the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The Authority is taking the lead on developing the towns and villages aspects of the Nature Recovery Plan.  

A grant has been received from the Forestry Commission to extend community woodland on the edge of Barnstaple to plant 25,000 trees.  

Looking to increase meadows in municipal areas by changing vegetation maintenance regimes.  

Plymouth City Council 

Council has adopted the 3rd annual climate action plan and its corporate Carbon Reduction Plan. A progress report on the previous annual climate action plan is being scrutinised in February.  

A new team focussing on climate change is being developed.  

Environment Agency 

James Cooper said the Agency is looking at alternatives to concrete where hard flood defences are necessary and the project-level carbon calculator tools are being updated.  

A trial of allocating carbon budgets to individual service areas is underway. 

Climate Literacy training, tailored for the Agency’s requirements, is in progress.  

Two new posts have been approved. One will be looking at further carbon reduction opportunities and the second will develop an offsetting strategy. 

Devon Wildlife Trust and Local Nature Partnership 

Harry Barton reported good progress with the creation of the Nature Recovery Network. An accompanying strategy is being developed.  

Due to Ash Dieback, Devon is losing trees in hedgerows. The Saving Devon Treescapes project is looking to restore these.  

The Trust is looking at its offset needs to meet organisational net-zero targets. Harry noted that as a Group we will need to understand what the expectation is on land as competition for offsets increases.  

Met Office 

Penny Tranter said the Met Office has launched a twice-monthly climate newsletter. Here is the joining link.  

An online course has been launched that introduces climate modelling and the UKCP18 interface. It takes 1 – 2 days to complete.  

Public Health Devon 

Sara Gibbs said the Devon Food Partnership is progressing.  

The COVID Recovery Coordination Group is considering how partners can support the community action we’ve seen during COVID to continue as we emerge from the pandemic. There will be work commissioned to understand this better. Doug noted this needs to be joined up with support programmes being designed for the climate and ecological emergency and the work of the Community Action Groups across Devon.  

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report

Period: October 2021 to November 2021

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

Newsletters continue to be issued on schedule and social media followings are growing. Monthly growth continues to be about 2%. Currently, our fastest growing communications channel is the Devon Climate Emergency newsletter. 

1.1.2 Campaigns

Current: 

  • Travel Devon Collaboration 
  • Collaborating with Travel Devon to encourage local businesses and organisations around Devon to encourage staff to travel sustainably 
  • Promote resources available to local organisations, including the Travel Devon Toolkit, blog posts and 1:1 advisory sessions 
  • Net-Zero Visions for Devon Climate Emergency 
  • Developing web pages on the DCE website to host the Net-Zero Visions project 
  • Introductory online workshop open to the public on January 27th to explain the project and encourage community engagement 
  • DCE comms to host the Net-Zero Visions project: all updates will be advertised through our social media and newsletter 

Upcoming: 

  • Devon Climate Emergency public consultation on the actions arising from the citizens’ assembly 
  • Initial comms about upcoming consultation will appear in the January newsletter 
  • ‘About’ section created on website as useful overview 
  • Secretariat to develop different kinds of engagement material for the consultation 
  • Paid promotion for the consultation on social media 
  • Confirm a date and attendees for a public webinar about the consultation 
     

1.1.3 COP26 Events

The final elements of the financial claims to the South West Energy Hub are being completed so that partners’ costs can be reimbursed.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

Activity is recorded centrally on the Taking Action pages of the Devon Climate Emergency website. Notable activity this month is: 

  • 210 trees planted by Devon County Council’s Environment Group at the Follaton Arboretum, Totnes  
  • Ten young people have started an innovative six month work programme with Plymouth’s newest nature project. The young people have joined the Plymouth Natural Grid, which is helping make nature more accessible to residents across the city. 
  • South West Water’s Net Zero Pioneers have got up to speed with the organisation’s new Net-Zero Plan.  
  • Free home upgrades are available for low-income households from the Heat Devon project until March 2022.  

2. Net Zero Task Force Update

2.1 Interim Carbon Plan ? [GREEN]

The rewrite for the Built Environment section has been distributed to the partnership for comment by the end of January. Work is continuing on remaining sections. 

2.2 Citizens’ Assembly Resolutions  [GREEN] 

Comments on the proposed actions responding to the resolutions need to be returned by partners to Emily by the 27th January. Comments from East Devon District Council and the National Farmers Union have been received already.  

Meetings have occurred with the web developer to plan how the consultation will appear on the website in March, implementing the lessons we learned from the Interim Carbon Plan consultation last year.  

Emily is continuing to prepare the consultation document. This will include infographics for people who want a quick overview of what is being proposed. This responds to feedback from the Net-Zero Task Force.  

3. Climate Impacts Group Update [AMBER]

At its latest meeting in December, the Group decided to revisit what is required from the Adaptation Plan before proceeding with the next stages to ensure it gets best value from the £25k funding from the Flood Defence Grant in Aid. A workshop has been planned for 17th January. Subsequent discussion may be required to determine how to spend the £25k once partners’ expectations of the Adaptation Plan have been confirmed.   

  1. Summary Comments 
  • Partners continue to implement the Interim Carbon Plan.  
  • The partnership is consulting with Members and boards about the proposed actions to implement the resolutions from the Citizens’ Assembly. The detail of how the consultation in March will operate is being planned.  
  • The funding application for additional resource for the Climate Impacts Group has been successful. A quick review of the outcomes needed from the Adaptation Plan will happen in January and a subsequent work programme will be designed.