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Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting 28th October

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Minutes 22nd September. Download a PDF of the minutes here.


Response Group
Doug Eltham (Chaired)  | Devon County Council
Ellie Rowlands  | Devon Climate Emergency
Emily Reed  | Devon Climate Emergency
Alex Gandy  | Dartmoor National Park Authority
David Edmondson  | Torbay Council
David Eaton  | Teignbridge District Council
Janet Williams  | Torridge District Council
Emma Page  | University of Exeter
David Bartram  | Exeter City Council
Kevin Jones  | University of Plymouth
Lesley Newport  | Environment Agency
James Cooper  | Environment Agency

Task Force
Patrick Devine-Wright
Nik Bowyer
Ian Bailey
Tim Jones
Kerry Hayes
Laura Cardenas
Gill Westcott


Phil Norrey  | Devon County Council (Chair)
Emily Bullock  | South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Dan Ulanowsky  | Pennon Group
Melanie Sealey  | Devon County Council
Helen Dobby  | Environment Agency
David Ralph  | Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
Harry Barton  | Devon Wildlife Trust
Clare Reid  | Exmoor National Park Authority
Michael Titchford  | North Devon District Council
Sara Gibbs  | Public Health Devon
Andrew Butler  | National Farmers’ Union
Jodie Wyatt  | Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
John Golding  | East Devon District Council
Penny Tranter  | Met Office
Alex Thompson  | NHS England

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

Actions carried over:
Doug Eltham advised that he and Tim Jones of the Net-Zero Task Force had attended the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board on the 18th September with Somerset County Council to share progress and discuss regional investment priorities.

ACTION: Doug to share the investment priorities with the Group.

Andrew Butler mentioned the NFU’s Farmventionproject. This is a national STEM competition run by NFU Education and aimed at children aged 5 –14 (school years 1-9) in England and Wales. This year, the challenge is all about the problems that climate change creates for British farmers and how they are fighting it to become Climate Superheroes.

ACTION: Ellie Rowlands to share Farmventionwith the Devon County Council Waste Education Team so that it can be included in the next schools’ Sustainability Bulletin.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1. Project Management Update

Doug Eltham invited questions about Section 1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes. No questions were asked.

2.2. Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Patrick Devine-Wright provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 these minutes. No further questions asked.

Ellie provided a summary of the communications activity planned for the consultation of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.

2.3. Update on the Climate Impacts Group

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

3. Influencing a Green Covid-19 Reset

The Response Group discussed with the Net-Zero Task Force the timeline to net-zero that should be in the consultation draft of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.

South Hams, West Devon, Torbay, Devon County and Teignbridge councils, plus Exmoor National Park Authority, had fed back before the meeting that they are content for the 3 consultation to propose 2050 as the net-zero date with a 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels (the proposal circulated to partners before the meeting).

Doug reported that a recent notification this week from the Centre for Energy and Environment at the University of Exeter, which is helping with the carbon emissions modelling for the Interim Devon Carbon Plan, has reported that the application of the Committee on Climate Change 2050 scenario to Devon results in a 50% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels. Therefore, there is sound reason to enhance the 2030 target to a 50% reduction.

Janet Williams advised that Torridge District Council would be content for the 2050 net-zero date as a consultation point but would welcome a stretch target if that’s what was encouraged by the consultation findings.

Tim Jones noted that the business community is being pushed by customer expectations and their appears to be a willingness to move on this agenda at the moment. We need feedback from businesses as part of the consultation.

David Bartram reported that whilst members at Exeter City Council have yet to feed back, they are likely to argue for 2030 as the net-zero consultation proposal.

Patrick Devine-Wright, James Cooper and Gill Westcott said that 2050 doesn’t feel urgent enough. Gill added that although 2050 is challenging, if we accept the 2050 target date we are accepting either that low income countries such as Bangladesh and Tanzania will also reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050, without the financial investment resources of wealthier countries, (less likely) or that 1.5 degrees will be missed. We can expect responses arguing for an earlier date in the consultation.

Emma Page said that the University of Exeter is looking to reduce its own emissions by 50% by 2030 with a structured plan in place to do so. Doug commented that having a structured plan in place, demonstrating the scale of a challenge, brings credibility to targets – which is precisely what the Interim Devon Carbon Plan is trying to do.

Laura Cardenas reminded the group that many of the transformative actions required to achieve net-zero will take time to implement, and once implemented there could be a lag before a substantial effect on carbon emissions is seen. 2030 is only 9 years and 2 months away.

The Group noted that irrespective of the net-zero target, marketing the 2020s as “the decade of action” sounds like a very useful hook for the consultation and assembly.

The group took a vote and AGREED that if 2050 is selected as the net-zero target then the 2030 target should be updated to 50%.

The group took a further vote and AGREED that the Interim Devon Carbon Plan should explain the case for achieving net-zero by 2030 in comparison to 2050 and explain the relative challenges. The target date for net-zero will be a specific consultation point. This will include gathering opinion on whether the issue of the net-zero target date should be prioritised for deliberation at the citizens’ assembly.

ACTION: Emily Reed to incorporate this into the Interim Carbon Plan.

4. Opportunity to discuss other issues with the Task Force

Alex Gandy advised the group that Action 137 that appears in the draft Cross Cutting Themes section would be problematic for national park authorities and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Alex confirmed that this had already been raised with the secretariat. Doug was able to confirm that Action 137 will not appear in the consultation draft and that an alternative that achieves a similar outcome has been developed.

Tim, Patrick and Gill asked for there to be stronger integration between the emerging Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Plan and the Devon Carbon Plan. In the first instance Gill suggested inviting members of the Climate Impacts Group to the Food, Land and Sea webinar to be planned as part of the consultation on the Devon Carbon Plan.

ACTION: Emily Reed to invite the Climate Impacts Group to the Food, Land and Sea webinar

5. Any Other Business

Emergency Tree Fund

Doug reported that The Woodland Trust has launched an Emergency Tree Fund to help local authorities turn their tree planting ambition into reality, overcome potential barriers, stimulate activity, and provide exemplars of innovation and inspiration that can be applied in other local authority areas.

Devon CC’s preference is to develop a project through partnership with others, particularly with other local authorities at the District and Town / Parish Council level. For Districts, this could mean helping to review planting opportunities on land in your ownership and supplying funding or tree stock to deliver these.

Further details of the project proposal will be shared following this meeting, with the request for you to either:

  • Indicate your ‘in principle’ support if your Authority would like to be actively engaged in exploring new planting opportunities through this project; or
  • Offer any immediate thoughts on practical initiatives that might be delivered through this initiative, including the implementation of any current proposals for tree planting on your own land where you lack the necessary resource for this.

Research into Perceptions of the Use of a Citizens’ Assembly

Patrick reported that preliminary findings from the Economy, Society and Research Council funded project into project partners’ perceptions and expectations for the use of the citizens’ assembly will be able to report at the next meeting.

6. Next Meeting

Next meeting is the 1st December, 12:30.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report

Period: September to October 2020

Status Indicator key:

Red = Serious 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. Project Management Update

1.1. General Project Communications (GREEN)

Website has been ‘signed off’ with the developers and is now live.

1.2. Spatial Planning (GREEN)

The DCE response to the Planning White Paper consultation has been drafted and circulated for comment to the Response Group, Tactical Group and the Net-Zero Task Force. Doug Eltham will be submitting the response by 29th October.

1.3. COVID Reset (GREEN)

The Cosy Devon partnership submitted a DCE-wide application to the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme on the 1st September. This is a £1.2m bid to retrofit 100 homes by 31st March 2020. The bid was successful and Devon County Council is now reviewing the contract before the project can commence. Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council also submitted successful bids.

Devon Solar Together has launched inviting households to participate in a solar panel buying collective. The number of households that have expressed an interest has exceeded expectations.

The full report on the Economy and Business Recovery to accompany the Team Devon COVID Prospectus has been delayed due to resources being focussed on government funding opportunities.

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update

2.1. Citizens’ Assembly (AMBER)

The procurement process for the research and advice on the effectiveness of online deliberations has concluded and has awarded the contract to the University of Exeter.

This work will conclude by the end of October. If the research outcome is positive and partners agree, the procurement process for the recruitment and facilitation provider would commence in January.

Early conversations with the Devon CC Procurement Team have occurred to schedule the necessary support.

2.2. Drafting the Interim Plan (GREEN)

Plan Sections

A draft of all sections was shared with partners on the 7th October. The purpose of sharing a draft at this stage is for partners to identify any significant concerns with the plan’s wording ahead of the public consultation from the 7th December. Significant concerns need to be raised by the 2nd November to give time to the secretariat and Task Force to amend the draft before the consultation.

In the meantime, the Task Force and the secretariat will continue refining the draft for consultation. Minor concerns from partners can be raised during the consultation, which will run for 10 weeks to the 15th February 2021.  

Net-Zero Timetable

The Task Force’s proposal for Devon’s Net-Zero timetable is with all partners for comment. To be agreed by the Response Group on the 28th October.

Action Scheduling Diagrams

Diagrams identifying when each of the actions in the plan needs to be implemented to align with the Committee on Climate Change net-zero scenario for 2050 are being prepared by the University of Exeter. There will be one diagram for each section. Additionally, the diagram will demonstrate the carbon emissions reduction trajectory over the next 30 years. Using these diagrams, five-year carbon budgets will be prepared for Devon to help with the monitoring of the implementation of the plan.

An example of the diagrams – the one for the Built Environment section – will be shared with partners within the next fortnight for quick comment. The remaining diagrams for the other sections will be prepared subsequently for inclusion in the consultation draft.

Communicating the Consultation

Communication elements of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan consultation continue to be developed. These include planning how the Plan will be displayed on the website; drafting consultation questions; organising a webinar series; planning how to reach offline audiences; and developing social media material.

3. Climate Impacts Group Update

3.1. Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

Most of the narratives are now complete. The one remaining is being completed by the University of Exeter, which is an understanding of wider social and economic risks. The Environment Agency has made national resource available to cross-reference the locally-identified risks with the national climate risk register to check for omissions in our local analysis.

All of the risks identified are now being brought together by narrative authors into one register with the assistance of the Local Resilience Forum secretariat.

The next stage is to identify the gaps in local preparedness for these risks. Actions required to fill these gaps will form the basis of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan.

4. Summary Comments

The Devon Climate Emergency is now in an advanced phase of assembling and editing the Interim Plan ahead of commencing the public consultation on 7th December.

The Climate Impacts Group is making progress with the narratives and the offer of support from the national Environment Agency team will help keep things moving. As a whole, the project is continuing to make progress.

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