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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 24th October 2023


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Charlotte Brown, Devon Climate Emergency

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Clare Jones, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Louise Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

David Rose, South West Water

William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council

Matthew Blythe, East Devon District Council

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

Actions carried over:

ACTION: Louise to prepare a proposal for further discussion about partners sharing EV chargers for fleet vehicles.

It was noted that this action is not a priority but will be retained here as an aspiration. Clare said she would be keen to collaborate.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Communications

Charlotte reported that she will be leaving her post at the end of November. The Group thanked Charlotte for developing the communications of the partnership to a new level  – particularly the understanding of how well different channels are doing.

Doug added that due to the budget management approaches at Devon CC it is unlikely that the comm’s role will be replaced using Devon CC resources. Therefore for the short term Emily will focus on the newsletter and the Taking Posts on the website as priorities.

ACTION: Group members to send Emily climate-related press releases direct to avoid additional time on Emily needing to review partners’ websites.

ACTION: Doug to add the reduction in comm’s resource to the project issues register.

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

2.2 Update on the Devon Carbon Plan

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

2.3 Update on the DCIoS Adaptation Strategy

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

3. Cross Cutting Themes Progress Report

The Group discussed the draft Cross Cutting Themes Actions Progress Report to add more detail about projects going on across Devon to demonstrate delivery of the Plan.

Discussion included:

Devon CC’s planning team will have a timetable of Local Plan reviews within each district. Emily said she is liaising with them. Alice added that Exeter’s draft Local Plan consultation is live now. (Action C6)

4. Energy Supply Progress Report

The Group discussed the draft Energy Supply Actions Progress Report to add more detail about projects going on across Devon to demonstrate delivery of the Plan.

Discussion included:

The status of renewable energy opportunity assessments (action E1.1) and the extent to which Local Plans mapped areas (action E2).

The capacity of renewable energy that has been installed by partners under any ownership model e.g. own capital, rent-a-roof, community investment. It was AGREED that we should be trying to capture the capacity of electricity installations in kWpeak but the generation of heat installations (mainly heat pumps) in kWh. (Action E1.2).

5. 2021 Carbon Footprint for Devon, Plymouth and Torbay

Doug presented the latest data prepared by the University of Exeter. Emily will add this to the website shortly.

The methodology has been amended and all historic data back to 2008 updated accordingly. This has resulted in historic emissions increasing slightly.

Emissions saw a bounceback in 2021 following the COVID year of 2020. The bounceback 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.

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.

The Group noted that Transport is a stubborn sector.

ACTION: Emily to publish the data online.

ACTION: Doug to send raw data to the partnership.

6.    AOB

Alice said she will follow up with the Group about further interest with the Green Accord scheme following their presentation a couple of months ago.

ACTION: Alice to follow up with the Group about the Green Accord.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: September to October 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.

Our web development agency has completed switching our website to a new WordPress editor, Elementor, to resolve ongoing issues with formatting.

We have begun to use the new system of reporting communications activity, which includes a broader set of metrics regarding engagement and website performance. Takeaways found this month include:

  • There has been an increase in engagement rate (% of visitors to a page that stay on the page for at least 10 seconds and click links) for key pages, e.g. Taking Action – it’s not yet clear what may be causing this, we will continue to monitor in subsequent months. The rate has jumped from 17% to 56%.
  • A lot of people find our Devon Carbon Plan landing page from direct links, rather than via the homepage or main navigation menu – we are going to make links to it more prominent on the home page.
  • Engagement rate could be improved to meet the good-practice benchmark of 71%. Currently, key pages tend to be 10-20% under this. Planned SEO (optimising a website to make it rank higher in search-engine retrievals) and website restructuring work are expected to help.
  • Instagram continues to be our fastest growing social media platform. Reels have seen particular success this month, receiving 3-6x the usual amount of likes
  • An excellent open rate (counting each subscriber once) for the newsletter is maintained at about 46% despite continual growth in total subscribers, meaning that new subscribers are actively interested in it. A good open rate for this type of campaign would be about 20%.

1.1.2 Campaigns and Projects

Net Zero Visions Curriculum Material 🟢 [GREEN]

The Sustainability Bulletin that goes to all schools in Devon in November will be used to distribute this, as the September bulletin did not have space.

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.

Devon Carbon Plan one year anniversary 🟢 [GREEN]

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

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • Farms in the South Hams and West Devon can access bespoke support to improve their productivity through Regenerative Farming methods.
  • Specially designed concrete panels will provide new habitats for marine flora and fauna on the edge of the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.
  • Researchers from the University of Exeter and other partners in a GW4 Alliance-led project will retrofit UK homes to be ‘Beyond Net Zero’, with help from a £4.6 million award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
  • The free Make It Net Zero Torbay programme has been launched to help businesses across Torbay to reduce their carbon emissions and save money on their energy bills.
  • The new Taste Mid Devon project will document how local food and drinks are produced with photography and videography, capturing the ‘field to fork’ journey.
  • The North Devon Stagecoach 301 bus service will be running more frequently to connect rural communities with rail services, tourist attractions and more.

1.3 New Governance Structure 🟢 [GREEN]

The first meeting of the Climate Task Force occurred on the 26th September. They clarified their terms of reference, learned about the genesis of the Carbon Plan and the Adaptation Strategy and reviewed the Economy & Resources and Built Environment Priority Action Progress Reports. The Task Force made recommendations to the secretariat about how the progress reports can be improved to give them more information on which to judge performance. They are particularly keen for performance indicators to be prepared for each action to understand what good would look like for each action. Next meeting will be in December at which recommendations for the Response Group will be prepared.

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 priority actions are now being reviewed and updated by the Tactical Group before being presented to the Response Group. This worked well for the latest Food, Land & Sea Priority Actions Progress Report, considered by the Tactical Group at its September meeting; further activity was identified that had not previously been picked up.

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 populated and loaded onto the website soon for the progress reports already reviewed by the Response Group.

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

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

The consultation report describing the findings of the public consultation on the Adaptation Strategy, and how the final report will be updated to reflect those comments, has been approved by the Climate Impacts Group.

Those amendments have now been made to the final document and the Response Group will be invited to endorse it at its November meeting, after which individual partners will be encouraged to endorse it via their formal procedures.

4. Devolution Update

Conversations with government departments continue.

5. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan.
  • The Climate Task Force has met for the first time and has made constructive comments about how to better monitor the implementation of the Carbon Plan.

The adaptation strategy consultation report has been approved by the Climate Impacts Group and the final adaptation strategy is now being prepared.

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