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Response Group Meeting Minutes, 7th February 2024

Attendees

Meg Booth, Devon County Council (Chair)

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Doug Eltham, Devon County Council (Environment Group)

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Mark Burton, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

Simon Pickstone, Plymouth City Council

Donna Sibley, North Devon and Torridge District Councils

Carrie Piper, Exeter Science Park

Victoria Hatfield, Exeter City Council

Rosemary Starr, Plymouth City Council

Fiona Rew, National Farmers Union

Ben Carwardine, Wales and West Utilities

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

Apologies

Nick Bruce-White, Devon Wildlife Trust

Gary Stenning, Exeter City Council

David Edmondson, Torbay Council

David Eaton, Teignbridge District Council

Eileen Russell, Wales and West Utilities

David Bartram, Exeter City Council

Matthew Blythe, East Devon District Council

Sally Basker, Exeter Science Park

Polly Frost, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

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

1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were accepted to be a true record.

No further questions asked.

2. Plymouth’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)

Rosie and Simon updated the Group, noting that the LCWIP contributes to implementing Action T6 in the Devon Carbon Plan.

The LCWIP is not tied strictly to Plymouth City Council’s boundary; instead it covers the Plymouth Policy Area as described in the Joint Local Plan with South Hams and West Devon.

It’s a live document and new routes and priorities will be added periodically.

The first LCWIP was published in 2021. This included 4 cycling and 6 walking routes. The second in 2022 proposes a further 4 cycling routes. They propose enhancements to bring infrastructure up to government’s LTN1/20 standards.

The plans anticipated an annual audit of route condition but in reality the approach has been more flexible, and has had to be based on the availability of capital funding and resources. £100s of millions spent already, including funding from Active Travel England.

This year the focus has been the production of the core network delivery map. This acts as a reference point for planners to identify locations that can be linked to development proposals. This will be published shortly.

Discussion

Meg asked if it can be problematic trying to meet the LTN1/20 standards when retrofitting infrastructure into heritage settings. Rosie said that a compromise is often necessary to achieve the best outcomes.

Victoria asked how successful it has been linked to planning. Simon said that developer contributions are negotiated alongside other infrastructure requirements (e.g. social housing, education etc) and that usually a blended finance model of developer contributions with active travel grants is usually reached.

3. National Grid Electricity Distribution Update

Matt reported that, despite some live issues, the roll-out of new infrastructure necessary for net-zero is on track.

Matt advised that capacity has been freed up from 1,700 premises by negotiating reduced grid capacity. E.g. a company had 1MW of capacity but never drew more than 500kW.

In rural areas a third phase needs to be added to increase capacity, yet planning permission via the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero can take 12 – 18 months. National Grid is speaking with government about making this activity permitted development to speed it up.

Obtaining planning permission from local authorities for new infrastructure can also be problematic. A Bulk Supply Point serving new development south west of Exeter has been refused permission, which National Grid is to appeal.

4. Project Progress Report

4.1  General Progress Report

Doug advised that the format of the report is going to be overhauled now that the partnership is firmly in its delivery phase so that the Response Group can more easily see a snapshot of the current state of implementation.

No specific questions on this month’s report.

Meg gave further information on the proposed devolution deal. There will be in-person consultation events looking at various themes and geographies from the 12th February. The results of the consultation will be reported to Devon County and Torbay cabinets in April.

4.2 Built Environment Theme Progress Report

Emily summarised the status of actions in the Built Environment theme of the Devon Carbon Plan.

Completed      4

Green              5

Amber             7

Red                 1

The common reasons for amber status are 1) good activity in some parts of the county but needs more funding to be extended to a bigger geography, and 2) more capacity is required to seize the opportunity for spatial planning to contribute to net-zero.

On this second point, Devon County Council’s spatial planning team and the Tactical Group are compiling information about the current status of each authority’s Local Plan planning cycle and their climate-related content.

The red action needs action with National Highways, which Meg offered to facilitate with Emily.

5.    Net-Zero Issues and Successes

Meg reported that the Devon County Council area has again achieved the second-highest recycling rate of all county authorities.

Doug asked how other authorities have manged the risk of long-term power cuts on electrified fleets, and the need to get charge posts repaired quickly. Victoria noted that Exeter City Council has the solar farm and battery storage on Marsh Barton that is providing power for the three electric refuse collection vehicles. Adam added that South Hams and West Devon are deploying and maintaining charge posts in-house to avoid delays due to sub-contracting.

Donna advised that Sport England funding has been used for upgrading the energy performance of leisure facilities, as well as funding from the Cricket Board, in North Devon. £360k of Community Infrastructure Levy has been used for renewable energy and storage in communities.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: January 2023 to December 2024

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 🟠 [AMBER]

Growth of following this month is 1.2%. This is an upturn on recent months. Website metrics are not being recorded currently.

Graph showing online communications following for newsletter, instagram, facebook, x, linkedIn and youtube. With total followers approaching 11,000.

Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

Mid Devon, Torridge and Exeter have confirmed £2k contributions towards the Climate Engagement post. Confirmation from other partners is anticipated this month. 

1.1 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • East Devon District Council’s Cabinet have approved a £207,000 package of decarbonisation support for local businesses and community groups.
  • The University of Plymouth has saved £60,000 in 12 months by using the Warp-it reuse initiative.
  • Organisations in West Devon and the South Hams can apply for funding through a number of grants to support Clean Economic Growth.
  • Enterprises can apply for up to £7,500 funding to support collaboration with a researcher through the University of Plymouth’s Net-Zero Solutions Fund.

2.    Oversight of the Devon Carbon Plan 🟠 [AMBER]

The Priority Action Progress Reports are on the website.

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.

The reduced resource for communications has meant that less time has been available for collating partners’ activity.

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

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

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. 

The proposals detail how the Deal would transfer a range of powers and funding to a Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority (CCA), subject to public consultation. The Government is proposing to transfer over £16 million of new funding to invest in new green jobs, homes, skills, and business growth and accelerate Devon and Torbay’s transition to a net-zero economy, capitalising on the area’s world-leading expertise in green science and technology. 

A section of the Deal proposal entitled ‘Net zero and climate adaptation’ acknowledges the Devon Carbon Plan and Climate Adaptation Strategy. It outlines the potential for the Deal to enable more effective action on supporting businesses to transition to net zero; planning our future energy system; establishing sustainable heat networks for buildings; delivering building retrofit measures; funding net zero infrastructure and supporting nature recovery.

Subject to the outcome of consideration by the Cabinets of Torbay and Devon County Councils, public consultation will begin on 12 February. 

Read the full Deal proposals here.

5.    Summary Comments

  • Communications activity and collation of partners’ activity against actions in the Carbon Plan has reduced due to resourcing of the secretariat.
  • The risks and near-term actions in the Climate Adaptation Strategy continue to be reviewed and monitored.
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