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Response Group Meeting Minutes, 6th March 2024

Attendees

Meg Booth                              Devon County Council (Chair)

Doug Eltham                           Devon County Council (Environment Group)

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

Chris Mason                            WSP

David Edmondson                  Torbay Council

Carrie Piper                             Exeter Science Park

Victoria Hatfield                       Exeter City Council

Sophie Goodall-Smith             Environment Agency

Eileen Russell                         Wales and West Utilities

Matthew Blythe                       East Devon District Council

Donna Sibley                          North Devon and Torridge District Councils

Ben Carwardine                      Wales and West Utilities

David Bartram                         Exeter City Council

Claire Gibson                          Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Apologies

Fiona Rew                               National Farmers Union

Matt O’Dowd                           National Grid ED

Adam Williams                        South Hams and West Devon Councils

Chris Clarke                            Wales and West Utilities

Isobel Fardon                          Dartmoor National Park Authority

Jason Ball                               Mid Devon District Council

Mark Kentell                            North Devon Council

Nick Bruce-White                    Devon Wildlife Trust

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

Emily Reed                             Devon Climate Emergency

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

ACTION: All to advise Polly Frost of development that is being constrained by grid capacity.

2. Devon and Torbay Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) project

Chris Mason attended to update the Group.

By the end of 2024, previous electric vehicle charging projects will have installed 318 sockets. This has enabled 17,000 of the 180,000 properties without driveways to be within a 3 minute walk of an on-street charge post. Still a lot more to do. This activity has provided plenty of learning to take into LEVI.

LEVI has provided £8m of capital and revenue to provide up to 3,000 more sockets by 2027. This is expected to unlock £10m – £30m private funding. A business case has been submitted to government, which should be approved next month.

Due to the nature of Devon’s urban spaces – many with narrow footways – we are looking at build-outs to retain footway space. Also talking to government to allow investment in more car parks rather than on-street. Also trialling gully, lamp post and bollard charging.

A working group with the district councils and Torbay Council is steering the project. Early market engagement is complete. A call for sites in parishes and communities is open.

Recruitment of Project Manager and Support Officer is underway.

Discussion

David asked about the challenges experienced on current projects. Chris said the main delays have been caused by grid connections, resulting in charge posts having been installed but without a grid connection. This has led to community frustration that they can’t use the new kit. LEVI will require grid connections to be in place before the charge posts are installed.

ACTION: Chris to share lessons learned with Torbay and districts.

Claire asked whether workplace chargers could be provided by LEVI and whether the public could then use those? Chris said the Workplace Charging Scheme is in place, but that the peer-to-peer trials that LEVI will implement could be used to enable businesses to share their charge posts with the public at times of day when the business does need the post.

3.    Progress Reports

3.1  General Progress Report

The progress reported appended to these minutes was considered.

The Group appreciated the addition of the pie charts that provide an overview of the RAG status of actions within each chapter of the carbon plan and adaptation strategy

The new format also identifies the common issues being reported that are preventing progress in each chapter of the Carbon Plan. Two that appear in more than one chapter are 1) the need for more resources, and 2) the need for new guidance/legislation/appetite from government. These will have been added to the Issues Register.

Meg added that conversations have started about business cases for the £16m capital associated with the devolution deal. Much of this will be allocated to assist with net-zero.

3.2  Economy and Resources Theme Progress Report

The Group noted that 17 of the 27 actions in this section are ‘green’. There are three actions that are red, of which one is awaiting information from South West Water and the remaining two do not have an obvious solution to resolve. None of the three are priority actions.

Claire said that we need to think about being able to demonstrate progress easily as some actions may never transition from amber to green, despite an increasing amount of activity. Victoria, David, Sophie and Polly offered to share the KPIs they are using which could be incorporated into the KPI dashboard that Emily is working on for the climate emergency partnership.

ACTION: Emily to liaise with partners to gather data to add to the KPI dashboard under construction.

4. Net-Zero Issues and Successes

David reported that Torbay Council’s on the ‘Green Way for our Bay’ plan has been successful, particularly with young people.

Mark advised that the Innovate UK Fast Followers green finance project is underway and will be assisting with unblocking some of the barriers discussed today.

Sophie said the Environment Agency had had success shifting tools and equipment to electric but they’ve found that some are not yet ‘up to the job’.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: February to March 2024

1. Partnership Update 

 1.1 General Communications  

Growth of following this month is 2.3%, which is the highest for a few months. LinkedIn and the newsletter subscribers recorded increases of 4% each. Recording of website metrics is now fixed but due to data gap the trends are not available. These will now be monitored.

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 has permission to recruit into the role and for Devon CC to host via the University of Exeter Graduate Business Partnership scheme. This will progress immediately and 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.

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

Transport (priority actions only)

Pie chart red 1, green 4, amber 2

Common Issues

  • 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 Secretariat continues to prepare data for the monitoring indicators which has seen progress but is yet in a state to be shared. It was hoped to share this month. We hope to share next month.

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. Devolution Update

Devolution for Devon and Torbay has taken a big step forward with the publication of Government proposals for a ground-breaking deal that could re-draw the future relationship between local government in Devon and Torbay, and Whitehall. 

Public consultation started on the 12th February and closes 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.

5. Local Net-Zero Fund

In February the Tactical Group heard from the local authorities working on bids to the South West Net-Zero Hub’s Local Net-Zero Fund. It is excellent to see so many bids being developed as this will give the Hub evidence for government that demand is very real for net-zero projects.

The Group head about:

  • 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).

The opportunity for collaboration is limited by the £100k cap on the grant that each project can apply for. E.g. Devon CC’s project is likely to be requesting the full grant value and so there’s no room in the project to collaborate with Torbay on solar feasibility.

6. Summary Comments

  • Communications activity and collation of partners’ activity against actions in the Carbon Plan has reduced due to resourcing of the secretariat.
  • The new progress reporting format identifies the common issues being reported that are preventing progress in each chapter of the Carbon Plan. Two that appear in more than one chapter are 1) the need for more resources, and 2) the need for new guidance/legislation/appetite from government. These have been added to the Issues Register.
  • The risks and near-term actions in the Climate Adaptation Strategy continue to be reviewed and monitored. 
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