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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 21st July 2023


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Charlotte Brown, Devon Climate Emergency

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

David Rose, South West Water

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Will Elliott, Teignbridge District Council

Jacqui Warren, Torbay Council

Lucinda Brook, Plymouth City Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Communications

Charlotte provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes, and highlighted the poster that has been distributed for partner organisations to use on buildings frequented by the public to show which net-zero measures have been installed.

ACTION: If any partners have used the poster, please tell Charlotte.

ACTION: Charlotte to update the poster template with logos for each technology type that could be dropped onto the poster.

ACTION: Doug to share the Net-Zero Vision school resources with the Group.

Doug added that Devon CC has earmarked funding this financial year for the Network of Environmental Educators in Devon, part of the Local Nature Partnership, to survey teachers about what support they need to incorporate climate into the curriculum. 

Jacqui said that Torbay has submitted a bid to the Hubbub and Starbucks fund to develop curriculum resources.

2.2 Update on the Devon Carbon Plan

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes. No further questions asked.

Emily reported that the Response Group has asked that social media and newsletter call-outs are used to gather activity across Devon that is helping deliver the priority actions in the Carbon Plan. John suggested AI such as Chat GPT may be useful in collecting information in the public domain. Lucinda suggested using a platform like Climate View to display the progress on the website.

Doug reported the establishment of the Devon Energy Planning Group. This has met twice. It is agreed to start work on the early stages of a Local Area Energy Plan and is now looking at how available resources could be best allocated to this. It is also getting feedback from other areas that have received funding via devolution for energy planning, and looking into online tools that can help keep the energy plan live and flexible rather than it being a report on a shelf.

John noted that the Health and Wellbeing Board considered climate change at its meeting in July. There was unanimous agreement that climate change will have a profound impact on health services and that enhancing the discussion about impacts and opportunities in the forthcoming review of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment needs to happen.

2.3 Update on the DCIoS Adaptation Strategy

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

Emily added that most of the 220 respondents to the adaptation strategy support the approach and feel they’re already being impacted by climate change. Most responses are from Devon. Businesses and young people continue to need to be engaged better. Emily is now processing the responses and plans to have a consultation report with the Climate Impacts Group  by the 17th August.

ACTION: Emily to prepare a timetable with the Climate Impacts Group through to the point of inviting organisations to endorse the final version.

3. Updates from Partners

Doug reported that the installation of solar panels on some of Devon County Council’s highways depots is underway and should be complete before the winter gritting season. John said that the Heavitree and Whipton Low Traffic Neighbourhood trial will begin next month. A consultation is also open about Exmouth Active Travel Improvements.

Catherine advised that East Devon District Council has the University of Exeter assisting with their corporate carbon plan and the council is also refreshing its climate action plan. More bike parking is being provided in Exmouth. Further Carbon Literacy training is expected to be rolled out to all 500 staff and councillors.

Lucinda said that Plymouth City Council is actively sharing the Plymouth greenhouse gas emissions trajectory to net-zero more widely to increase buy-in across the city, such as with the built environment sector so that key businesses and skills providers understand the size of the challenge and opportunity.

Jacqui reported that Torbay Council is recruiting two climate/environment policy officers. They have received UK Shared Prosperity Funding to increase support to households available from Exeter Community Energy and support to businesses from the South West Manufacturers’ Alliance. There will be a second consultation in autumn on the Torbay Climate Plan. The council is also working on a Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme 3c bid for October.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: June to July 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 Project Communications

1.1.1 Following 🟢 [GREEN]

Growth rate remains positive on all channels. We have now passed 4000 newsletter subscribers, making up 37% of our total audience.

A line graph showing the DCE online communications following. All lines are increasing
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Business Engagement 🟢 [GREEN]

A week-long online survey ran at the end of April to understand the usefulness of, and appetite for, a business badge scheme to recognise local businesses acting on net-zero. The findings have been analysed and next steps are to explore a partnership with the Green Accord and to produce a printable DCE poster for partners to display in the windows of buildings that have been upgraded, particularly via the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

A presentation from Exeter City Council providing further information about the Green Accord took place at the latest Tactical Group meeting in June. Two printable DCE posters have been produced and distributed – one with stock text and one that can be personalised – for partners to use.

Net-Zero Visions Curriculum Material 🟢 [GREEN]

The resource pack has been finalised following feedback and will be made available to all schools. The Sustainability Bulletin that goes to all schools in Devon will be used to do this.

A selection of resources created for the Net Zero Visions project will be available on the Devon Climate Emergency website soon.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement Service 🟢 [GREEN]

The design and scoping work is underway, being led by Devon County Council. The initial research phase to understand the gaps in community support that need filling by the project has concluded. This is now being used to design the support programme for 2023/24, which will be an extension of the Community Action Group initiative. An additional extension is being planned for delivery from April 2024.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

The pages are now filterable by location and by the associated Theme and Goal in the Devon Carbon Plan.

  • East Devon’s Streetscene have increased the number of greenspaces and verges that will not be mowed between April and September.
  • Devon County Council have secured £2.1 million in active travel funding from central government to support a number of priority schemes in Exeter, Newton Abbot, North Devon and Torridge.
  • Devon County Council is one of 21 local authorities across the UK to receive the Fast Followers funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  • Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) are being supported by Aviva and a generous legacy from a DWT supporter to create Atlantic rainforest near Totnes.
  • The Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) has launched the South West’s first smart local energy system.
  • A ‘water batteries’ project delivered by Westcountry Rivers Trust and South West Water will pay farmers in Devon and Cornwall to create water storage on their land.
  • Charities and businesses can apply to the East Devon District Council Culture, Leisure and Tourism Fund (CLTF) to help them decarbonise.
  • Volunteers at Exeter Central Library and St Thomas Library are running community fridge initiatives to address food waste.
  • South Hams District Council and the University of Plymouth are two of several partners in the Electric Seaway Project, which is set to deliver marine electric charging infrastructure along the south coast using £3.2 million of government funding.

1.3 New Governance Structure 🟢 [GREEN]

  • We are delighted that Claire Pearce has accepted the invitation to chair the Climate Task Force. Attention is now on who else needs to join the Climate Task Force to ensure a spread of necessary expertise and experience.
  • An initial meeting of the Devon Energy Planning Group occurred on the 22nd June. A second meeting is scheduled for the 19th July.
  • The existing partnerships and groups that are overseeing deliver of the priority actions in the Carbon Plan are assisting with preparing the monthly progress reports.

2. Devon Carbon Plan 🟢 [GREEN] 

Partners continue to deliver the Devon Carbon Plan. This month a progress report on the Economy and Resources section’s priority actions are available to the Response Group to review.

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

The consultation closed on 30th June. The final number of representatives is about 210 – pending any last-minute postal submissions. Early analysis shows that 75% respondents support the Strategy. Reasons for those not supporting the strategy are being analysed. A full report should be available for the August Response Group meeting.

4. Devolution Update

Further enhancements continue to be added to the Net-Zero and Environment ask about energy planning (incorporating retrofit and unlocking grid issues) and natural environment improvement.

5. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan.
  • The new governance arrangements are being used to prepare the monthly Priority Action progress report.
  • The consultation on the draft Adaptation Strategy has closed and submissions are being analysed.
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