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Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting, 7th February 2023

Attendees

Meg Booth
Doug Eltham
Tim Jones
James Shorten
Mark Clapham
David Eaton
Emily Reed
Jason Ball
Emmanuelle Marshall
Charlotte Brown
Lewis Garvey
Chris Clarke
Mark Kentell
Sara Gibbs
Polly Frost
Sally Basker
Andrew Butler
Matt O’Dowd
Keir Duffin
Penny Tranter
Devon County Council (Chair)
Devon County Council (Environment Group)
Net-Zero Task Force – South West Business Council
Net-Zero Task Force – Geo Consultants
Devon Association of Local Councils
Teignbridge District Council
Devon Climate Emergency
Mid Devon District Council
Plymouth City Council
Devon Climate Emergency
Wales and West
Wales and West
North Devon Council
Public Health Devon
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Exeter Science Park
National Farmers’ Union
National Grid ESO
Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Met Office

Apologies

Neil Hamlyn
Drew Powell
Janet Williams
Adam Williams
David Bartram
Stephen Walford
Steve Marks
Claire Gibson
Alex Gandy
Victoria Hatfield
James Cooper
Donna Sibley
David Edmondson
Rebecca Miller
Harry Barton
Angus Berry
Local Resilience Forum
South Hams and West Devon District Councils
Torridge District Council
South Hams and West Devon Councils
Exeter City Council
Mid Devon District Council
Environment Agency
Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
Dartmoor National Park Authority
Exeter City Council
Environment Agency
Torridge and North Devon District Councils
Torbay Council
Plymouth City Council
Devon Wildlife Trust
South West Water

1. Skidmore Review

Doug introduced a summary paper of the Skidmore Review that had been circulated to the Response Group. The paper highlighted pertinent recommendations from the Review for national government about the role of local government and spatial planning in net-zero. Many of these align with the Devon Carbon Plan. Doug said that Devon County Council (DCC) had been invited to submit comments to government via ADEPT. In those comments DCC supported the review’s recommendation that local government is given a statutory role in carbon reduction, so long so the necessary resources to deliver that role are provided.

2. Consultation on reforms to national planning policy     

Doug introduced government’s consultation on proposed updates to the National Planning Policy Framework. This includes proposals for calculating the carbon emissions associated with development, changes to the requirements that need to be met by onshore wind projects, and making it more straightforward to adapt existing buildings to make them more energy efficient.

It was AGREED that the DCE partnership should submit a consultation response.

ACTION: Doug to prepare and submit a partnership response.

3. Challenges for the planning system. Could the Response Group support local planners?

Tim Jones reminded the Group that Devon and the wider south west has the opportunity to become a green energy powerhouse and to be a leader in creating low-carbon communities. But planning policy needs to respond to these opportunities.

James Shorten noted that the problem is the not the ambition of the planning system, it is that policy making is slow due its complexity and need for consultation.

James and Tim have met with the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers’ Group. They heard the ambition from the planning professionals for planning to respond positively and proactively to help deliver net-zero but that time and resources are currently issues.

James and Tim proposed 1) bringing together industry representatives with senior planners at a summit to discuss the issues that need addressing, and 2) to produce a template for accelerated climate policies by bringing together a working group – this template could be used by the planning authorities to prepare adapted policies where amendments are necessary to reflect local requirements.

Meg suggested taking this issue and the proposals to Team Devon – the forum of local authority Chief Executives and Leaders.

David agreed that Team Devon would be a good forum, and said this does need to be a priority. David further noted that some local authorities are preparing Local Plans now, and so resources could continue to be an issue for a working group, although not every authority would need to be represented on the working group.

Mark Kentell supported Meg’s suggestion and said North Devon would be keen to be involved. Mark added that recruitment of planners is currently difficult.

Andrew said that improving uniformity of planning expectations across the county would be helpful.

Sara added that Lancaster seems to have progressive planning policy with regards to net-zero. James said Cornwall are leaders, too.

ACTION: Meg to arrange agenda slot at Team Devon with David and Mark Kentell.

Tim reminded the Group that there is urgency on this and Meg agreed to note to Team Devon that this is an emergency.

4. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes were accepted to be a true record.

One action carried over:

ACTION: Secretariat to prepare and circulate a description of the purpose/remit of each group/network that are proposed to be used for oversight of the Devon Carbon Plan, and the representation on each group/network.

5. Project Progress Report

5. 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.

5.2 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.

No further questions asked.

5.3 Climate Impacts Group Update

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

The Group AGREED the timetable presented for the consultation of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan:

6. Net-Zero Issues

This is a new, standing agenda item for issues that may benefit from collaboration to be discussed.

  • Sally raised the issue of the cost of electricity that will be making electric vehicle charging unattractive for some users. Could there be an opportunity for DCC to bulk-buy on behalf of charge point operators?

ACTION: Doug to speak with energy and procurement colleagues at DCC about bulk-buying electricity for electric vehicle charging.

  • Meg said that competitive procurement doesn’t always enable the best ideas to get the support they need to enable innovation. DCC has a project running to look at innovation can be encouraged within he current regulations. David added that even when grant funding is provided, the funding often doesn’t cover 100% of a project – due to the financial situation that many local authorities are in, the appetite for risk taking is reducing.
  • Polly raised the issue of electricity grid constraints. Sally said that Andy Wood at East Devon and Kevin Bishop at Dartmoor could provide insights on the impact these are having on economic activity in different environments of Devon.

ACTION: Doug to ask Matt O’Dowd if he could explain the issues in detail at a future meeting.

7. AOB

David asked for an update from the Devon Energy Collective on the status of the opportunity for anchor institutions to procure local, renewable electricity.

ACTION: Doug to arrange for the Devon Energy Collective to attend a future meeting.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report 

Period: January to February 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 

Growth rate has increased again back to normal levels following the Christmas lull.

The January newsletter had the highest number of opens so far at 4072, and the highest unique open rate so far at 48%. We have surpassed our goal of 3500 newsletter subscribers by March and currently sit at 3587 (i.e. some readers open the newsletter more than once).

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

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Business Engagement 🟠[AMBER]

Whilst progressing slower than hoped, the secretariat has updated the signposting to resources for business available on the DCE website.

A slide deck aimed at business has been prepared, which is with the LEP and South West Business Council representatives for feedback.

County Show 🟢 [GREEN]

  • Discussions have started around DCE’s presence at the 2023 Devon County Show, taking place from Thursday 18th May to Saturday 20th May at Westpoint, Exeter.
  • DCE have plans to showcase the work of the Net Zero Visions project. Acclaimed creative professionals have worked with Devon communities to produce positive ‘Visions’ of their local area as net-zero by 2050.
  • Current ideas for the Show include:
    • Displaying some of the completed artistic Visions of communities as net-zero by 2050, which include murals with virtual reality elements, illustrations, an animation and a video game. A few copies of the associated book compiling these may also be on display.
    • Having iPads available for people to play the interactive game on.
    • Providing an ‘art station’ for children to draw their own Vision, to be displayed together as the Show progresses and added to the DCE website
    • A competition element in which people pledge to reduce their emissions and sign up to the newsletter to be in with the chance to win a sustainable prize. This could be similar to the successful reusable bottle tombola run by Recycle Devon last year, or could be integrated into the iPad game with prizes going to people with the highest scores.
  • Dr David Sergeant, who has been leading the Net Zero Visions project at the University of Plymouth, hopes to attend.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement 🟢 [GREEN]

The funding bid to Innovate UK Pioneer Places, submitted by Devon County Council on 30/11/22, was unsuccessful. This would have provided funding to accelerate the design and scoping work for this service.

Now that the 23/24 budget is approved at Devon County Council, funding is available to progress the design and scoping work. This will commence in March 2023.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • Exeter City Council will be playing a role in raising awareness of the benefits of plant-based foods for the climate.
  • The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has awarded South Hams District Council over £1 million to help reduce emissions as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
  • More houses in Exeter will have access to dedicated food waste collections after the latest rollout to properties in St Loyes.
  • A new study commissioned by the South West Net Zero Hub will identify gaps in the current provision of net-zero skills and training in order to shape future policy and delivery.
  • Devon County Council successfully bid for £3.7 million to determine how to decarbonise the construction and maintenance of the A382 link road development near Newton Abbott.
  • The Government’s Levelling Up fund is providing £64.5 million to grow the South West and create jobs, boost the economy and open up more equal opportunities.
  • A new Plastic Free Directory will showcase Plymouth people, businesses and organisations working to reduce their plastic use.
  • East Devon District Council has collected and chipped down a total of 1,699 Christmas trees for use in community projects supporting the environment.

1.3 New Governance Structure 🟢 [GREEN]

Following a thorough review, a proposal was presented to the Response Group at its meeting on 10th January 2023. This was agreed and will be implemented. It will be kept under review and amended as necessary.

Current activity of the Secretariat is determining how the online reporting platform will work, and continuing conversations with existing groups and networks that will have a role in the oversight of actions. The Net-Zero Task Force membership is advising us who will stay on as it transitions into a Climate Task Force (incorporating adaptation issues) so that the process of receiving nominations for people covering specific experience and knowledge gaps can be started.

2. Devon Carbon Plan 🟢 [GREEN]

Partners, as well as organisations beyond the partnership, are now encouraged to endorse the Plan through their governance arrangements. Organisations that have endorsed so far are:

  • Dartmoor National Park Authority
  • Devon County Council
  • East Devon District Council
  • Devon Association of Local Councils
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Mid Devon District Council
  • Devon Wildlife Trust
  • Torridge District Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • North Devon District Council
  • South Hams District Council
  • Teignbridge District Council
  • Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

West Devon District Council has the Plan progressing through decision making processes.

A number of partners submitted funding bids to the Innovate UK Net-Zero Pioneer Places fund in December 2022. Devon County Council was unsuccessful on a pan-Devon bid. Exeter City Council and Plymouth City Council were successful. 

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

A workshop in January identified the priority actions for regional collaboration on adaptation. This was the final element of drafting the Adaptation Plan.

The secretariat presented the process of preparing the Adaptation Plan to the Regional Risk Management Group (covering Devon and Cornwall) in January.

A timetable for gathering feedback from the partnership and consulting with the public has been confirmed by the Climate Impacts Group. 

  • 13/02 – 8/03/2023 Adaptation Strategy circulated to partners so they can gather officer feedback within their organisations
  • 13/3 – 23/03/2023: RSK review comments and update Adaptation Strategy
  • 24/03/23: RSK handover final draft of Adaptation Strategy
  • 27/03 – 05/05/23: Partner organisations have 6 weeks to sign-off draft Adaptation Strategy for consultation (using local governance arrangements preferred by each partner)
  • 08/05 – 02/06/23: Four week public consultation
  • 05/06 – 14/07/23: Six weeks processing consultation results and amending the strategy
  • 2023 August CIG meeting: review amended Adaptation Strategy (may be July meeting if fewer consultation responses are received than anticipated)
  • Autumn 2023: Take the amended Adaptation Strategy to partner organisations for endorsement

4. Devolution Update

Government has advised that devolution is paused until at least January. The Secretariat is not aware of any movement on this.

5. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan. 
  • The Adaptation Plan is available for partnership feedback.
  • New governance arrangements have been agreed and are being implemented.

         

                                             

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