1. Matters arising from previous minutes
Minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true record of the meeting.
Actions carried over:
ACTION: Charlotte and Emily to consider how a business badge system could work.
Emily said that this action will be progressed in April when we expect a graduate placement from the University of Plymouth to join the team for three weeks to look at this project.
ACTION: Emily to circulate the business slide deck to the Task Force members.
Emily reported that this has been drafted and circulated to Tim Jones for comment.
ACTION: The secretariat to respond to the NPPF consultation on behalf of the Task Force, drawing on the findings of the Devon Climate Assembly.
Doug said that the response for the Devon County Council has been prepared. We’ll get a response on behalf of the Task Force circulated to the group soon for comment.
Patrick asked for the successful Pioneer Places information to be shared. Emily said that Plymouth and Exeter City Councils have been successful. Doug said that the details are not yet public but once the funding agreements have been signed we will share that with the partnership and the Task Force.
Tim reported that the Government may be reappraising the value for money of the Levelling Up funding awarded earlier in January.
ACTION: Doug to check with Meg if Devon CC has been notified of anything about the Devon funding.
2. Progress Report
Charlotte gave an update on the communications activity described in the Progress Report.
Tim said he is helping collate an innovation exhibition for the County Show looking at net-zero and sustainable energy initiatives. A company called Coastal Work Boats, based in Exeter, has just won a £6m grant for clean innovation of electric propulsion for marine vessels.
Patrick asked for more information about the Shared Prosperity Fund in the South Hams. Emily said they are planning on delivering a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, business support for net-zero, support for community energy groups, feasibility about how marine activities can be decarbonised, and partnerships with the agricultural sector.
3. Skidmore Review
Doug highlighted key points of the review and said Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport (Cllr Davis) has fed back to the government department, BEIS, via ADEPT (membership organisation of county councils) supporting all of the review’s recommendations. This includes the recommendation for local authorities to have a statutory duty to act on net-zero, so long as the resources and powers are provided to deliver this new duty.
Sue suggested the Task Force should send a letter of support to the Cabinet Member.
ACTION: Secretariat to prepare a letter of support to Cllr Davis from the Task Force.
4. Planning Update
Doug reported that Tim and James attended a meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers Group in December and have had a subsequent meeting with the chair in January. The discussion raised the issue that whilst planning teams are keen to act on the climate emergency, particularly in light of the Skidmore Review and consultation on the NPPF amendments within the Levelling-Up Bill, resources are stretched. One solution could be a set of net-zero related planning policies to be used as a foundation for revised policies in the region. This would reduce duplication of effort between authorities.
These issues were taken to the Response Group in early February. It was agreed that Meg Booth will take the issue of resourcing in planning departments and how planning authorities can collectively respond to the climate emergency to Team Devon. It will be recommended that a summit of senior planners and elected members is brought together to discuss these issues. The summit will be in May after the elections.
Patrick asked if the committee members will be involved? Nik agreed that this is important. Doug said they would be.
Emily reported that the secretariat has been identifying and meeting with the organisations that can take an oversight role in reporting on progress with the delivery of the priority actions in the Devon Carbon Plan. These conversations continue.
An online reporting mechanism for the oversight groups to use to submit a quarterly highlight report is needed. Advice has been sought from Devon CC IT department about this. The current proposal is a Microsoft Form collecting standard project highlight report information. Emily shared this on-screen with the Task Force. The information submitted will be collated into a spreadsheet, which will form the foundation of the programme report to the Response Group. This will be published on the website for public consumption.
Patrick asked whose responsibility will it be to fill in the form. Emily said we expect it to be the secretariat functions of the oversight groups, many of which are already collating performance information and progress information within their areas of expertise already.
Sue asked who will collate all the replies. Emily said it will be her initially, and we’ll see how that works. Sue said she thinks the form is fine.
6. Transition to the Climate Task Force
Within the new governance structure, the Net-Zero Task Force will transition to the Climate Task Force to incorporate the adaptation agenda as well.
Patrick declared his intention to step down from Chair of the Net-Zero Task Force but to stay involved on the Climate Task Force using his expertise in local energy issues. Emily thanked Patrick for his contribution to the climate emergency project and his guidance through the climate assembly process and the preparation of the Carbon Plan.
Emily invited members of the Task Force to nominate themselves by email to be considered as the future chair, or to suggest names of external people who we may approach.
Emily shared a draft list of qualities, lived experience and knowledge that are needed across the new Task Force. Emily asked for feedback on this. Once we know which existing members are able to continue on the Task Force, we will do a gap analysis of experience and knowledge to guide which people we should approach to fill those gaps.
Patrick asked if it would be appropriate for a member of the Task Force to be involved in the oversight and/or delivery of actions. Emily said that shouldn’t be a problem.
Deadline end of February to advise Emily if you’d like to stay on as a member of the Climate Task Force and for nominations for chair.
7. Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Strategy
Emily introduced the work of the Climate Impacts Group to date, and explained how the Adaptation Strategy has been prepared.
Tim said it would be good to have business representation on the Group.
Action: Secretariat to determine how to represent business on the group.
Laura said she’s interested in contributing to the Adaptation Strategy where appropriate.
Action: Secretariat to circulate Adaptation Strategy to the Group. Comments need to be received by the 8th March.
Lyndis asked what the relationship will be between the Climate Impacts Group and the Climate Task Force. Emily said the distinction is that the Climate Impacts Group will be driving the action, whereas the Task Force will be scrutinising that action.
Laura said we’re going to need data to understand the effectiveness of actions (and for mitigation) and engage with key audiences to ensure actions are received positively, such as the farming community. Emily agreed and said those metrics to understand how effective adaptation activity is being, are yet to be developed.
Hannah asked whether infrastructure partners have been involved so far? The South West Infrastructure Partnership launched a 2050 vision recently, and they may be happy to engage.
ACTION: Secretariat to consider how further infrastructure operators’ input to the group could occur.
Tim reminded the Group that the adaptation problem is significant but is also very sensitive and so people need to be brought on the journey of understanding the risk in their local area. Doug added that there is nothing in the Strategy that is not already in the public domain but accepted that bringing the information together in one place will make that information more accessible.
8. South West Mutual
Emily said that the South West Mutual has decided to pause activity and will wind-down the organisation in June if further finance is not found. Supporting regional banks is an action in the Devon Carbon Plan. The South West Mutual had received cash funding from a couple of local authorities in Devon.
Tim said that he is aware of a ring-fenced fund in the region of £100m for Devon from the British Business Bank, within its Southwest Fund which is due to launch soon.
Tim said a huge thank you to Patrick for motivating and moulding the Task Force into the nationally recognised group it is, and indeed the international recognition of its outputs and activity. Olly echoed this.