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Response Group Meeting Minutes, 3rd April 2024


Meg Booth                              Devon County Council (Chair)

Doug Eltham                           Devon County Council (Environment Group)

Emily Reed                             Devon Climate Emergency

Sophie Goodall-Smith             Environment Agency

Chris Clarke                            Wales and West Utilities

Eileen Russell                         Wales and West Utilities

Lewis Garvey                          Wales and West Utilities

Victoria Hatfield                       Exeter City Council

David Bartram                         Exeter City Council

Sara Gibbs                              Public Health Devon County Council

Claire Gibson                          Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Matt Dodd                               University of Exeter

Nick Bruce-White                    Devon Wildlife Trust

Jason Ball                               Mid Devon District Council

Carrie Piper                             Exeter Science Park

Adam Williams                        South Hams and West Devon Councils


Fiona Rew                               National Farmers Union

Matt O’Dowd                           National Grid ED

Isobel Fardon                          Dartmoor National Park Authority

Mark Kentell                            North Devon Council

David Eaton                            Teignbridge District Council

John Green                             Plymouth City Council

Penny Tranter                         Met Office

Drew Powell                            South Hams and West Devon District Councils

Stephen Walford                     Mid Devon District Council

David Rose                             South West Water

Claire Reid                              Exmoor National Park Authority

Mark Burton                            Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

Polly Frost                               Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

Keir Duffin                               Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

John Amosford                        Public Health Devon

David Edmondson                  Torbay Council

Matthew Blythe                       East Devon District Council

Donna Sibley                          North Devon and Torridge District Councils

1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were accepted to be a true record. No further questions asked.

2. Devon Housing Commission

Matt Dodd attended to update the Group. The commission is covering Devon and Torbay and is chaired by Lord Best. Plymouth is undertaking a separate exercise.

The objectives of the Devon Housing Commission are as follows:

  • Develop a clear picture of the problems across local housing markets and tenure types across geographic Devon with a wide range of engagement from communities, experts and partner agencies.
  • Understand the future need for housing supply, tenure types and use that will aid the wider outcomes of prosperity, economic growth and social mobility
  • Provide recommendations for social and housing policy changes required to respond to the crisis over the next decade
  • Provide some practical recommendations that help to deliver on an improvement in use, supply and tenure type including improving the quality of the private rented stock in line with carbon plan objectives.

Five sessions of the commission have been held so far. These have been distributed around the county, each looking at a different topic. One further meeting is scheduled in Torbay.

A Call for Evidence is open via the website.

ACTION: All to submit evidence and distribute survey opportunity via their networks.


Meg said that there could be opportunities for the Pension Fund to invest in housing improvement and delivery projects.

Doug drew attention to the Climate Task Force’s recommendations to the climate partnership (contained in the Progress Report) about the slow pave of retrofit, particularly for the ‘able to pay’ sector. This is principally because retrofit costs are high in comparison to the revenue savings achieved from reduced energy bills. Meg added concerns about the design of government schemes aimed to improve the energy efficiency of vulnerable people’s homes, which place significant financial risk on local authorities.

Emily advised that climate adaptation should be considered by the commission, too, particularly with regard to overheating and flood risk vulnerability.

3.    Progress Reports

3.1  General Progress Report

The progress reported appended to these minutes was considered.

Doug highlighted that permission has been granted to recruit into the communications post because of the funding contributions from partners for this. Partners will be invoiced during April.

Meg reported that devolution is progressing well. Currently looking at what can be delivered with the £16m capital by March 2025 rather than what we want to deliver. Business cases need to be submitted to government to allocate and spend the funding.  

3.2  Transport Progress Report

Emily reported that 17 of the 27 actions in this section are ‘green’. There are 14 actions amber and four are red. Eight are not yet graded. Emily ran the Group through each amber and red action.

Meg noted that despite the £2 passenger fee for bus journeys, passenger numbers have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This is thought to be connected to congestion now being worse than it was pre-pandemic despite traffic levels not being higher. This is thought to be being caused by more intense utility-related road works.

Sarah asked about how we will know that the activity happening against action B4 relating to behaviour change and modal shift is enough. Emily advised that a set of indicators to monitor progress towards the milestones in the Carbon Plan is being prepared by the University of Exeter. These will enable us to understand the extent to which the necessary societal shifts are underway.

4. Net-Zero Issues and Successes

Meg reported the successful £800k bid to the Active Travel Capability Fund and Green Light Fund by Devon CC as well as the £12.1m from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas covering Devon and Torbay.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: March to April 2024

1. Partnership Update 

 1.1 General Communications  

The newsletter continues to see the strongest growth of all platforms. Open-rate remaining steady at around 45% (10 – 20% is considered good).

Figure 1.1. DCE Online Following

Eight partners have confirmed £2k contributions towards the Climate Engagement role – these are from seven local authorities and Wales & West. Still awaiting decision from a few partners.

The secretariat is seeking permission to recruit into the role and for Devon CC to host via the University of Exeter Graduate Business Partnership scheme. If approved, partners offering funding will be invoiced in April.

1.1  Partners’ Notable Activity

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

Note that due to the absence of the Climate Engagement post we’ve been unable to get all stories on the website. We have been logging those sent to us so that when resource increases we can get them online.

2. Oversight of the Devon Carbon Plan

The Progress Reports detailing known activity against each action are on the website. A summary of the number of actions categorised by each RAG status is provided below, split by theme.

Note that each theme of the carbon plan is reviewed every 6 months, which means the RAG status will not change significantly within the monthly periods of this progress report. 

Blue = Completed

Green = Generally progressing well

Amber = Progressing but geography or scope is limited

Red = Not started or activity significantly limited

Grey = Not yet assessed

Built Environment

Pie chart 1 red, 4 blue, 5 green, 7 amber

Common Issues

  • Finance required to expand geography.
  • Finance required for more people resource, particularly spatial planning.

Economy and Resources

Pie chart 3 red, 17 green, 7 amber

Common Issues

  • Clearer guidance from government on aspects of waste management needed.
  • Finance required for more people resource.

Energy Supply

Pie chart 1 blue, 6 green, 11 amber

Common Issues

  • Government appetite to address issues e.g. grid capacity, planning for wind.
  • Availability of capital finance.

Food, Land and Sea(priority actions only)

pie chart 8 amber, 5 green

Common Issues

  • Complexity of agendas, e.g. Land Use Framework and Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
  • Finance required to expand geography and scope.


Pie chart 8 grey, 17 green, 14 amber, 4 red

Common Issues

  • Public concern about EVs and reallocating highway space for sustainable modes.
  • Grid capacity.
  • Availability of capital finance.

Cross-Cutting Themes

Pie chart 2 amber, 1 blue, 4 green

Common Issues

  • Finance required for more people resource, particularly spatial planning.
  • Finance required to expand geography.

The first phase of publishing the monitoring indicators will go live on 3rd April. The University of Exeter is helping to expand the indicator set, which will be added to the web page incrementally.

3. Oversight of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy

The Climate Impacts Group is continuing its programme to review all the risks and near-term actions each year.

Pie chart 2 grey, 4 green, 9 amber

The most common issue reported is needing to get better information about the extent to which communities are preparing for change. This is being explored with Devon Communities Together.

4. Feedback from the Climate Task Force

The Climate Task Force held its latest quarterly meeting in March.

  • Consider understanding what is needed to move each action from amber to green.
  • Mass-market retrofitting of buildings is still not happening quickly enough because the costs are high and the revenue savings are small in comparison. A retrofit summit should bring together key players to have a deep conversation about long-term solutions and to prepare a retrofit strategy. There could be an opportunity for the Local Energy Advice Demonstrator project to help with these conversations, which the Secretariat will follow up as a first step.
  • The role of spatial planning in net-zero is not being delivered fully. Need to revisit conversations with the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers Group to refresh the needs of planning teams and subsequently reengage Team Devon. Initially the Secretariat will speak with the chair of the DCPOG.

5. Devolution Update

Public consultation closed on 24th March. The deal is scheduled to be agreed by Torbay’s and Devon’s cabinet’s in March and councils in April. Read the full Deal proposals here.

Discussions about how to prioritise the £16m capital spend in 2024/25 are underway, much of which will contribute to net-zero.

6. Local Net-Zero Fund

The Tactical Group is aware of six bids from the area submitted to the South West Net-Zero Hub’s Local Net-Zero Fund. Successful projects will commence in May 2024. 

  • Devon CC is looking at advanced feasibility for solar PV on redundant landfill sites.
  • North Devon and Torridge are exploring a hydrogen economy map linking to their clean maritime innovation corridor.
  • South Hams and West Devon are considering feasibility for rapid EV charging at specific locations, providing electric boat charging from remote pontoons, and partnering with the community energy sector to progress a wind project.
  • Exeter is designing a bid to develop the Green Accord supply-chain greening product.
  • Teignbridge is looking at further energy efficiency works for leisure centres, street-scale decarbonisation for housing, and decarbonisation of heat and power for an industrial estate.
  • Torbay is contemplating bids to expand the pilot of a water source heat pump in Brixham harbour, solar feasibility and housing decarbonisation (talking to Teignbridge about this).

7. Summary Comments

  • Communications activity and collation of partners’ activity against actions in the Carbon Plan has reduced due to resourcing of the secretariat but a decision is expected this month about replacing the resource.
  • The Task Force has shared its concerns about the pace of retrofitting buildings and the continuing need for spatial planning to respond radically to the climate emergency.
  • The partnership awaits the outcome of the Local Net-Zero Fund applications.
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