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Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting, 31st October 2022

Attendees

Meg Booth
Doug Eltham
Emily Reed
Charlotte Brown
Sara Gibbs
Sally Basker
Chris Clarke
Mark Kentell
David Edmondson
Andrew Butler
Mark Clapham
Harry Barton
James Cooper
David Bartram
Polly Frost
Keir Duffin
Claire Gibson
Rebecca Miller
David Eaton
Alex Gandy
Jason Ball
Stephen Walford
Victoria Hatfield
Devon County Council (Chair)
Devon County Council (Environment Group)
Devon Climate Emergency
Devon Climate Emergency
Public Health Devon
Exeter Science Park
Wales and West
North Devon District Council
Torbay Council
National Farmers’ Union
Devon Association of Local Councils
Devon Wildlife Trust
Environment Agency
Exeter City Council
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
Plymouth City Council
Teignbridge District Council
Dartmoor National Park Authority
Mid Devon District Council
Mid Devon District Council
Exeter City Council

Apologies

Neil Hamlyn
Drew Powell
Angus Berry
Donna Sibley
Janet Williams
Adam Williams
Steven Crampton
Local Resilience Forum
South Hams and West Devon District Councils
South West Water
Torridge and North Devon District Councils
Torridge District Council
South Hams and West Devon Councils
Met Office

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes were accepted to be a true record.

2. Project Progress Report      

2.1 General Project Communications

Charlotte provided an update reflecting Section 1.1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

No further questions asked.

2.2 Net-Zero Task Force Update

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

David Edmondson asked if the tourism sector will be engaged about the launch of the Carbon Plan. Emily said that the business engagement will cover all business sectors themed by action area – energy, transport, buildings etc.

Emily added that she is keeping a record of organisations that have endorsed the Carbon Plan. Exeter City Council is considering the Plan at its Executive on the 1st November and the council in December.

ACTION: All to notify Emily when an organisation endorses the Plan.

ACTION: Doug to circulate the submission made to the government’s Net Zero: Call for Evidence on behalf of the Partnership.

2.3 Climate Impacts Group Update

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

No further questions asked.

3. Concerns About New Governance Arrangements

Doug introduced concerns from the secretariat and the Net-Zero Task Force about the governance arrangements for the Carbon Plan and the Adaptation Plan now being prepared.

At the heart of the structure is a series of theme boards (at least six) overseeing the delivery of the actions in each section of the Carbon Plan and the Adaptation Plan. These are proposed to meet quarterly.

The concerns are:

  • The development of this structure was focussed on oversight – monitoring progress and reporting issues – rather than enabling delivery of the Plans and collaboration, which is vital.
  • Six Theme Boards meeting quarterly means an additional 24 meetings each year for the Secretariat (Emily and ½ of Doug) to schedule and prepare documentation for. Is this a good use of time (including the time of the attendees) when practical delivery is so crucial?
  • The prospect for inter-theme opportunities and collaborations will only occur at the Response Group. But is this at the right level? These conversations need to be occurring between the people devising and delivering projects, most of whom are not at the Response Group.
  • This is an example of traditional structures, which haven’t been effective in the past and don’t serve the purpose of achieving rapid net-zero – we need to try something new. We need something flexible and something that encourages innovation. 
  • Some stakeholders have said the Devon Climate Emergency process has felt too bureaucratic to date.

Doug recommended that the Response Group mandate the Tactical Group and the Net-Zero Task Force to develop an alternative governance and delivery structure for the partnership that:

  • Is less bureaucratic and less time consuming
  • Is more focused on delivery
  • Enables collaborative and opportune conversations to occur
  • Encourages innovation

They will revisit models being used by other climate partnerships and will speak with the LGA and ADEPT.

They will seek the advice of political science specialists at our universities.

Outcomes of Discussion

The Group AGREED with the recommendation and further AGREED for proposals to brought back to the next meeting of the Group on the 30th November for refinement. We will aim to select a structure by the 10th January. However, priority should be given to designing an appropriate structure rather than rushing ahead with something unsuitable. This will be kept under review.

The following points/suggestions were made:

  • The theme boards could still exist but make the preparation for those meetings less reliant on the secretariat – perhaps send questionnaires out ahead of those meetings to gather necessary information.
  • Group oversight activity around the priority actions in the Carbon Plan – bring people together with the right skills to look at those. We can’t monitor everything in the Carbon Plan at the same time.
  • Think about the added value that the governance structure can bring to accelerating net-zero. Need to focus on the aspects where this partnership can help – we’re here to overcome structural and system barriers, to facilitate and support.
  • The proposed structure will become a megalith. Something less meeting driven and more about getting information back from partners and communities would be more helpful.
  • Now is probably not the time to be asking more of people’s time to sit on theme groups unnecessarily.
  • Control what the partnership can influence. If that role is done well, then the rest should follow.

4. Any Other Business and Partner Updates

Meg said that Devon County Council is through to Round 2 to receive funding to create a net-zero highway from the ADEPT Live Labs initiative. It’s now a 50/50 chance of receiving the funding.

Victoria asked whether partners are considering an Innovate UK Net-Zero Pioneer Places bid. Exeter City Council is considering this. Rebecca said that Plymouth City Council is, and Doug said that Devon County Council is.

Sally reported that a company called Remit Zero at the Exeter Science Park has developed a replacement boiler called Cylo that stores high temperature water under pressure. This is heated by off peak electricity or renewables and then used to heat a building. Great potential for hard to treat properties in domestic and commercial sectors.

Alex added that another company at the Science Park, Quanterra, can monitor habitat carbon sequestration and is looking to work on Dartmoor’s peatlands.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report 

Period: September to October 2022

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 

The growth rate across all channels has roughly doubled to around 3.5%, which is presumed to be due to activity around the launch of the Devon Carbon Plan in September 2022. All channels apart from YouTube have grown following, with the newsletter seeing the greatest increase of around 200 followers, exceeding our December 2022 target for total newsletter subscribers.

A figure showing that social media following is increasing on all platforms
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns

Launching the Devon Carbon Plan

  • The Devon Carbon Plan was launched and made available to the public via our website on Tuesday 27th September.
  • Communications around this included a launch toolkit shared with partners and other interested parties, a webinar, features on BBC Radio Devon, BBC Spotlight and social media Q&As.
  • The Plan has been presented at the Exeter Science Park Net-Zero Regional Conference on the 29th September, the Act on Climate Teignbridge community event on the 1st October and the Devon Association of Local Councils conference on the 5th October. An event by Sustainable South Hams on the 8th October also heard about the Plan.
  • The Plan was well received on social media and saw a significant amount of engagement from partners and the public.

Business Engagement

  • DCE are now looking to do more work around business engagement.
  • Initially, this will consist of putting together a slide pack with actions for organisations sourced from the Devon Carbon Plan Quick Read slides, which can be distributed via the South West Business Council. These will encourage businesses to endorse the Devon Climate Declaration. We will also be reviewing and updating the resources for business available on the DCE website and asking businesses to put forward case studies that we can showcase as part of a longer campaign.

Challenge-setters for the University of Exeter

  • DCE are acting as one of several challenge-setters for the University of Exeter’s second year Thinktank module.
  • DCE will be presenting to and interacting with the students from September to December. The students will be researching the question, “What is required to enable and encourage young people, including university students, to adopt more net-zero habits and lifestyles?” on behalf of DCE.
  • The challenge set by DCE is proving popular with students. DCE will be attending a virtual Q&A with the students this month to answer any questions they have.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement

The Community Engagement Sub-Group nominated Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to bring a proposal back to them to enhance the Community Action Group activity across Devon. This has yet to happen. However, this will be progressed in October.

Government’s Net-Zero Call for Evidence

A partnership response was submitted on the 27th October based on the barriers to net-zero recorded in the Devon Carbon Plan.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

This month there have not been many Taking Action posts due to the official mourning period for the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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

  • Carlton Power is set to start work on a 10MW hydrogen hub project, which will provide local companies in Devon and Cornwall with easy access to hydrogen fuel.
  • Councillors have discussed the creation of a new wildlife haven at the former Northbrook golf course in Exeter

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update [GREEN]

The Devon Carbon Plan was published on the 27th September.  

Partners, as well as organisations beyond the partnership, are now encouraged to endorse the Plan through their governance arrangements during the autumn. Plymouth City Council, Mid Devon District Council and Devon County Council have endorsed already.

The theme boards that will oversee the delivery of the Plan are now being designed, however the timetable is 1 month behind schedule. Specifications for the skills and experience needed on each board are being developed that will be used to advertise the opportunity. The boards are meant to be operational by February 2023 but with the current delay this is looking more like March currently. The specifications of one of the Boards has been shared with the Tactical Group for comment.

3. Climate Impacts Group Update [GREEN]

RSK has completed its first draft of the climate risk register and has shared this with the Climate Impacts Group for comment. Sub-group workshops occurred during October for colleagues to meet in four themed groups to discuss magnitude and urgency scoring. The groups were natural environment, infrastructure, health & built environment, and business, industry & international dimensions.

Case studies are being collected to illustrate the Adaptation Strategy.

The Adaptation Strategy is expected to be completed by January 2023 for public consultation in early spring.

4. Devolution Update

Government has advised that devolution is paused until at least January.

5. Summary Comments

  • The Devon Carbon Plan has launched and partners continue to implement it. 
  • The continuation of the preparation of the Adaptation Plan is now underway.
  • New governance arrangements are being prepared.

         

                                             

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