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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 22nd November 2023


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Donna Sibley, North Devon and Torridge District Councils

Jacqui Warren, Torbay Council

Alex Mitchell, East Devon District Council

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Clare Jones, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

Andy Seaman, University of Exeter

Collette Germon, Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Lucinda Brook, Plymouth City Council

Like Mitchell, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

The Group discussed how artificial intelligence could help free-up time related to repetitive tasks. Doug reported that Teignbridge DC has been involved in a government-funded trial of using AI to review consultation responses. This has shown that the AI was able to reach the same conclusions as the officers.

ACTION: Doug to speak with Andy about making use of the University of Exeter’s AI expertise.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Communications

Doug provided an update reflecting Section 1.1 and 1.2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

Andy reminded the Group that students are often looking for opportunities to get involved in projects. Andy’s team has a Student Project Coordinator.

ACTION: Andy to invite the Student Project Coordinator to a future meeting.

2.2 Update on the Devon Carbon Plan

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

The Group discussed that the Oversight Groups for each theme of the Carbon Plan are not functioning in the way that had been expected. Doug added that most updates on actions are coming from this Group as we all have knowledge about what’s going on in our spheres of influence – subsequently, Emily will often speak with an organisation to get more detail to add to the action progress reports.

Andy suggested that it could be better for an institution to own a particular theme or issue rather than one of the oversight groups, which are often partnerships and so can lack the direct accountability.

Jacqui added that now we’ve got examples of the type of monitoring we want, we could reengage the oversight groups to show them the sort of information we’d like them to be collecting.

Lu and John noted that monitoring activity effectively is resource intensive, so we need dedicated resource for this. Some aspects of monitoring are yet to emerge, such as the KPI dashboard and the annual event. Doug agreed and said this has becoming even more critical now that the Communications and Engagement post will not be filled by Devon CC.

ACTION: Doug and Emily to consider how resources for monitoring could be best utilised.

2.3 Update on the DCIoS Adaptation Strategy

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

2.4 Devolution

The devolution deal is expected to conclude by the end of March 2024. Plymouth is no longer part of the negotiations. Funding for the Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) is hoped to be part of the deal. How a LAEP across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay is prepared if Plymouth is not part of the funding arrangement will need to be addressed.

3.    AOB

Jacqui reported that a consultation on the Torbay Climate Strategy will launch and be open through to March. This proposes changing the area target for net-zero to 2050.

Andy said that the University of Exeter is reviewing the scope of its net-zero reporting. The team is expanding.

John advised that the Lancet and London School of Tropical Medicine has reported recently that decarbonising early will pay for itself through avoided future healthcare costs.

Adam said that South Hams and West Devon had run a symposium last week to bring together food stakeholders. Electric vehicle strategies for each authority are currently being adopted. A thermal camera is available for rental. Last year two countryside sites were allowed to regenerate naturally and tree saplings are starting to come through at these locations.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: October to November 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. We have nearly reached 11,000 followers across all platforms.

Monthly newsletter clicks are up from around 300 to around 1000. Some of this is due to our promotion of the Energy Saving Devon scheme, which saw roughly 250 clicks indicating that  this is an issue people are particularly interested in.

Website performance has dipped. It is unclear whether there are set reasons for this, although it is in part because we have now resolved the issue with bots which were previously skewing our results. Performance will continue to be monitored to ascertain whether these results are consistent and what we can do about it.

Charlotte will be leaving DCC in mid-November. Due to restrictions on recruitment at Devon CC, the post will not be filled. Therefore, Emily will prioritise communications activity on the collation of Taking Action posts and the monthly newsletter. We will encourage the better sharing of project updates between partner organisations to minimise Emily’s time spent gathering stories for posts.

Chart showing the following across the DCE social media platforms. Total following has almost reached 11000.

Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Net Zero Visions Curriculum Material 🟢 [GREEN]

The Sustainability Bulletin that goes to all schools in Devon this month will be used to distribute these materials.

Challenge Setters with the University of Exeter 🟢 [GREEN]

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 next month.

Devon Carbon Plan one year anniversary 🟢 [GREEN]

To mark the one year anniversary of the finalised Devon Carbon Plan’s publication, communications content last month highlighted some of the work that has happened in the past year aligning with the Plan.

Posts have been successful with high rates of engagement throughout October. The campaign results will be disseminated going forward.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • Plymouth City Council have installed 222 new solar panels on the upper roof deck of the Theatre Royal car park, which will power the entire car park plus contribute to the Plymouth grid.
  • The Devon County Council Cabinet has agreed to advertise traffic regulation orders for a £525,000 bus lane scheme in Roundswell and a £400,000 scheme in Exeter City Centre.
  • Devon County Council have launched a public consultation on proposals to upgrade Barnstaple’s Longbridge Junction, including improvements to walking and cycling links.
  • Prosper is a new, free business support programme aimed at helping businesses and entrepreneurs to achieve their business development ambitions, including improving energy efficiency and becoming more environmentally sustainable.
  • Volunteers, Moor Trees and The Duchy Of Cornwall worked together to collect more than 5,000 acorns from Wistman’s Wood in order to bolster existing woodland.

2.    Devon Carbon Plan 🟢 [GREEN]

Partners continue to deliver the Devon Carbon Plan. In a change of process, the monthly progress reports on a section’s actions are now including all actions rather than just the priority ones.

A solution for displaying the Priority Action Progress Reports on the website was reviewed by the Tactical Group. Following some minor amendments this will be loaded onto the website this week.

The Secretariat continues to update the data for the monitoring indicators.

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

The consultation report describing the findings of the public consultation on the Adaptation Strategy, is now online.

Those amendments have now been made to the final document and the Response Group endorse it at its November meeting.

Once launched, on the 28th November, individual partners will be encouraged to endorse it via their formal procedures. Emily will send all partners a comm’s pack on the 27th November for partners to help publicise the launch of the Strategy.

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. The secretariat is now recording progress at implementing all actions, not just the priority actions.
  • The adaptation strategy consultation report has been approved by the Climate Impacts Group and the final adaptation strategy is now endorsed by each climate partnership in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
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