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Response Group Meeting Minutes, 7th December 2023


Meg Booth, Devon County Council (Chair)
Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency
Doug Eltham, Devon County Council (Environment Group)
John Amosford, Public Health Devon
Polly Frost, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
John Green, Plymouth City Council
Nick Bruce-White, Devon Wildlife Trust
Victoria Hatfield, Exeter City Council
Mark Burton, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)
Chris Clarke, Wales and West Utilities
Donna Sibley, North Devon and Torridge District Councils
Isobel Fardon, Dartmoor National Park Authority
Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils
Eileen Russell, Wales and West Utilities
Sally Basker, Exeter Science Park
Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council
Matthew Blythe, East Devon District Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were accepted to be a true record.

No further questions asked.

2. Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) and Beryl Bikes in Plymouth

John Green gave an update on these two transport infrastructure projects.


  • Expecting to spend £2.4m principally on 1,000 7kW on-street charging pedestals, with ducting installed for later additions.
  • Hoping to trial at least 100 cable gullies to provide a solution for at-home charging at properties without a driveway. Householders will pay for infrastructure on their land. Unlikely to be allocated a space outside the property but with improving battery technology it’s likely that charging will only be necessary about once a week.
  • Looking to trial 100 pop-up chargers.
  • Not likely to use lamp-post charging because the ambition is to move lamp posts to the rear of the pavement which subsequently would cause issues with trailing cables.
  • On-street accessibility is difficult. PAS1899 is the new standard but no local authority is yet meeting it as it’s very challenging. The Energy Saving Trust is going to survey local authorities about this next year.

Meg asked if grid constraints have been an issue. John said that National Grid DSO were able to share a map of substations with spare capacity and a dedicated member of the National Grid team worked with the them to develop quotations for the upgrade works. The 7kW charge posts don’t have a massive issue but the rapid charge posts can be expensive – upgrade costs are between £1,200 and £100,000 depending upon the charge post capacity.

Beryl E-Bikes

  • Since March 2023, 525 bikes are available in the city across 105 locations.
  • A further 5 locations will be added by March 2024.
  • There has been some vandalism but not so much to cause concern.
  • Connect Plymouth website has been launched to help market it.
  • Typical journey is 1.5 miles, 16 minutes.

Victoria asked if there’s been a reduction in vehicle movements due to the bikes. John said that Beryl has surveyed bike users to provide an estimate of this but it’s not yet noticeable out on the roads.

Emily asked if the scheme is benefiting deprived communities. John said that 5,000 hours of free bike use per year is available for social prescribing, and there are mechanisms available to encourage different journeys, so for example a discount could be placed on journeys originating from deprived areas. Doug reported that Devon CC is leading a tender that will launch in January for a shared bike and car club in Exeter to replace the co-cars and co-bikes scheme. Bikes and cars are expected to be on the ground by June. Following this, the operator will be at liberty to extend the scheme with further partners and into other geographies.

3 Project Progress Report

3.1 Communications

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 1.1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes. It was noted that due to the focus on resourcing at Devon County Council, the post of Climate Communications and Engagement Officer will not be filled following Charlotte’s departure later this month.

ACTION: All are encouraged to send news releases and project updates to Emily.

Doug added that this is causing an issue not only for communications activity but also the monitoring of partnership activity regarding the delivering of the Carbon Plan and Adaptation Strategy. A proposal for partner contributions from April 2024 to a shared resource will be brought to the Response Group in January. This will suggest modest contributions from partners of £1k – 2k to achieve clear outcomes.

3.2  Carbon Plan

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

Emily highlighted the likelihood that the 2018 – 2022 carbon budget will be exceeded by at least 9%. Transport is one of the most stubborn sectors and projects like those we’ve heard about from John will be paramount to helping those sector’s emissions to reduce.

3.3  Climate Adaptation Strategy

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 4 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

Nick asked how should partners show commitment to the Adaptation Strategy? Meg said it will depend on the type of organisation and the most appropriate governance route for them – Devon CC is endorsing it through Cabinet.

4 Net-zero delivery problems and successes

Doug said that some organisations have been reporting a 5% drop in solar installation costs. Donna agreed and said this was because of a flooded market but it is expected to rise again. Now is a good time to install.

Donna reported that the trialling of an electric tipper vehicle. Donna is also looking at modern slavery concerns in the lithium industry. Polly noted that Altilium metals based in Tavistock and Plymouth recycle EV batteries to reduce the need for virgin metals.

Polly reported that the South Devon Freeport is preparing a net-zero strategy and action plan for activities as the build develops.

By email, David Edmonson said that Torbay Council’s Greener Way for Our Bay is available for consultation.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: November to December 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 Communications

1.1.1 Updates and Metrics 🟢 [GREEN]

Social media growth remains positive. This month we have surpassed 11,000 followers across all platforms.

In October we saw a spike in newsletter clicks up from around 300 to around 1000. We attributed this to the Energy Saving Devon article, which appears to have been correct as November’s clicks have returned to usual levels.

Emily has been scheduling social media at a lower volume following Charlotte’s departure.

Chart showing the DCE online following. Total now exceeds 11000.

Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Challenge Setters with the University of Exeter

As part of a University of Exeter Liberal Arts module, groups of students will be conducting research for us surrounding young people’s perception of climate impacts, what actions they can take to improve their resilience and how climate adaptation could best be communicated. Their findings will inform how the Climate Adaptation Strategy is promoted to a younger audience.

We attended a Q&A with the students and will hear the results of their research later in December.

Net-Zero Visions promotion to mark COP28  

To mark the COP28 the Net-Zero Visions material is being promoted on social channels in partnership with the University of Plymouth.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • Funding has been obtained to maximise the potential of the South West’s hydrogen ecosystem, driving the development of hydrogen skills, infrastructure and technology.
  • Plymouth City Council have been awarded over £1.6 million from the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP+) Fund.
  • Devon County Council’s Investment and Pensions Fund Committee has decided to commit investments to renewable energy technologies.
  • Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter Youth Rangers and Year 9 students from Isca Academy worked together to plant 3,000 wildflower bulbs in Exeter’s Leaf Land, a 2-hectare part of Riverside Valley Park.
  • Devon County Council have the highest amount of funding they have received in the 17 years of the Bikeability scheme’s delivery in the county.

2.    Devon Carbon Plan 🟢 [GREEN]

A solution for displaying the Priority Action Progress Reports on the website is now live. We realise this is potentially clunky so will keep it under review.

The Secretariat continues to prepare data for the monitoring indicators which we hope to share next month.

Carbon Footprint and Budget

The University of Exeter has prepared the latest carbon footprint (2021) for the whole of the Plymouth, Torbay and Devon council areas. The methodology has been improved and all historic data back to 2008 updated accordingly. This has resulted in historic emissions increasing slightly. The data is on the website for download.

Emissions saw a bounce back in 2021 following the COVID year of 2020. The bounce back to 7.67Mt was to a level less than 2019 (7.98Mt), but 2021 itself did experience a long-duration, partial lockdown from December 2020 through to May 2021. Road transport is the principal contributor to the bounce back.

The carbon budgets described in the Devon Carbon Plan, calculated from 2016 emissions data, have also been revised upwards to reflect the slightly-higher baseline position. The current budget period covers 2018 – 2022. In comparison to these newly calculated budgets the area has used 88% of the budget. With one year remaining this means the 2022 emissions are likely to exceed the budget cap by about 9%. This exceedance will be carried forward into the next budget period, meaning the longer emissions-reduction activity is delayed, the harder it will become to meet the five-year carbon budgets. Projects to encourage more active travel, public transport use and electrification of vehicles are essential. The Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI)  projects will offer significant charging opportunities to residents and businesses looking to make the switch to electric vehicles.

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

The Adaptation Strategy has been launched and is live. Individual partners are encouraged to endorse it via their formal procedures.

The Climate Impacts Group has prepared an annual timetable to ensure each risk receives an annual review and to gather progress updates against each action, which will be brought to the Response Group periodically for review. The first of these will be in January 2024.

4.    Devolution Update

Government gives green light to finalising a Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal – News. A final decision is expected by March 2024. The deal is currently valued at £16m.

5.    Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan. Transport has seen a bounce back in emissions in 2021 from the lockdown year of 2020, which is contributing to a projected 9% overshoot of the 2018 – 2022 carbon budget. The LEVI projects are essential for providing significantly increased opportunities for electric vehicle charging across the county.
  • The Adaptation Strategy is now live and partners are being encouraged to endorse it.
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