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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes – 10th March 2020

Devon Climate Emergency Tactical Group minutes of meeting 10th March 2020.
You can download a PDF of the minutes here.


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council
Richard Merrifield, Public Health Devon
Sarah Higgins, North Devon District Council
David Rose, South West Water
Andrew Gunther, Torbay Council
Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency
Ellie Rowlands, Devon Climate Emergency
Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust
James Szymankiewicz, Natural Devon~
John Golding, East Devon District Council
Natalie Dakin, South Hams and West Devon Councils
William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council


Tom James, University of Exeter
Andrew Busby, Mid Devon District Council

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes were AGREED to be a true record of the discussion.

James Szymankiewicz asked that links are made with the Devon Environmental Land Management Scheme trials and the Devon Climate Emergency project. Harry Barton advised that he is involved and can ensure the links are strengthened.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1. Project Management and Communications Update

Doug Eltham and Ellie Rowlands provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

The Group asked for the final communications plan to be made available.

ACTION: Ellie Rowlands to put the communications plan online and notify the Group when it’s available.

Events are being planned with the Net-Zero Task Force to share the findings of the hearings and the call for evidence. Initially these will be held in Plymouth, Exeter and North Wyke.

Sarah Higgins asked if the North Wyke event could be held further north. Andy Gunther asked if a further event could be held in Torbay.

ACTION:  Emily Reed to discuss locations of these events with the Task Force.

Harry Barton asked how the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group’s (DCERG) decision to incorporate the ecological emergency into this project could be reflected in the branding. Doug Eltham stated that the DCERG had not recommended changing the name of the project or its branding, but suggested that the strapline of the project could be updated to reflect the ecological emergency, as it is already due to be updated to incorporate the work of the Climate Impacts Group. This was AGREED.

ACTION: Ellie to prepare some options for incorporating the ecological emergency and the resilience workstream into the project strapline and share with the Group.

2.2. Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

The Group discussed that the Task Force is starting to refine the actions identified from the hearings and the call for evidence and starting to determine the options for implementing them and the resources that would be required. It was AGREED that Doug Eltham and Emily Reed will visit partners individually (rather than a joint workshop) to get their input to this process.

2.3. Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

Harry Barton advised that mapping of the natural environment will be useful to inform that Nature Recovery Network project and the review of risks to the environment from climate change being led by the Local Nature Partnership. Somerset has undertaken mapping and the methodology could be useful for Devon.

ACTION: Emily Reed and Harry Barton to meet to discuss the mapping of the natural environment further.

3. Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration

Doug Eltham has met with the lead officer of the Devon Planning Officers’ Group, George Marshall, and the low-carbon lead of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, Arron Beecham, to review the commission from the DCERG to understand the legality and implications of using the climate emergency as a material planning consideration.

Latest thinking following recent development management decisions in the county is that:

  1. There is no need to commission legal advice at the moment because we have real-life planning decisions being made locally on the basis of the national climate emergency. We can watch these progress through any appeals processes, which is more useful than a legal opinion.  We need to ensure development management committee members are aware of the bold decisions being taken elsewhere.
  • Planning committee members do need to understand the unintended consequences of immediately stopping carbon-emitting development. We should convene a workshop with expertise invited from planning, transport, housing, energy and health with the purpose of brainstorming what those unintended consequences could be. Then tidy-up the conversation into a think-piece directed at infrastructure and planning decision makers.

These two recommendations will be presented to the DCERG at its next meeting on the 17th March 2020.

Relevant to this discussion is that the Great South West, a partnership of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, has been speaking with government about the region becoming the first net-zero carbon region and has written an open letter about the proposal to the Chancellor.  

James Szymankiewicz recommended that the principal of using the climate emergency as a planning consideration needs to apply to all scales of development, not just strategic development.

Andrew Gunther advised that relevant policies do already exist in many of the Local Plans, but that authorities require confidence to use them which will come in part through these two recommendations.

Harry Barton said that the DCERG should ensure that resources and devolved powers required to enable the Great South West to become carbon-neutral should be part of the ask to government. Doug Eltham advised that those conversations are happening at regional level.

4. Local Updates from Members

Each member provided an update on their activity to address the climate emergency locally. These included:

  • Climate Action Week in North Devon is the 21st – 28th March
  • Torbay is recruiting a Climate Change Officer and is meeting with a community organisation called Torbay Climate Action to understand how they can help
  • Teignbridge, having recruited a Climate Change Officer, is developing a carbon footprint for the local authority
  • South Hams and West Devon are recruiting a Climate Change Officer. Carbon reduction action plans for the council operations and for the geography are currently out for consultation. Guidance is being created for the public on where it is best for new trees to be planted.

5. Funding Opportunities

No further funding opportunities shared.

6. Any other Business

David Rose reported that South West water will be part of an event in London with water industry regulatory bodies and senior managers from other water companies to discuss how to meet the water industry’s decarbonisation targets.

7. Next meeting

April 8th 2pm – 4pm.  Meeting invitations have been sent.

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