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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 26th March 2024


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

Louise Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Clare Jones, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Helen Hicks, University of Exeter

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Jacqui Warren, Torbay Council

Lucinda Brook, Plymouth City Council

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

Collette Germon, Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Morag Aiken, South West Water

William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council


Andy Seaman, University of Exeter

Alex Mitchell, East Devon District Council

David Rose, South West Water

Matthew Blythe, East Devon District Council

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Donna Sibley, North Devon and Torridge District Councils

Luke Mitchell, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

2. University of Exeter Green Consultants Programme

Helen presented the programme and the opportunity it offers to climate emergency partners to bring in resource for specific issues and projects.

Green Consultants is an award winning programme designed to provide students with additional skills and experience required to work in the highly competitive environmental and sustainability sector.

The interactive programme comprises of 3 key elements:

  • Training – online interactive technical and employability training teaching the skills needed for sustainability consulting
  • Project – the students work in a small group to apply their learning to a live project contributing to the University’s net zero goal
  • Internship – The opportunity to apply skills and experience in a relevant paid internship with an external organisation.

The internships are 35 hours, usually part time over a number of weeks and are available all year round. The charge to the external organisation is £500 for the 35 hours.  

Any geography is permissible but it’s good for the intern to have the experience of meeting the team in a workplace environment at least once.

If any organisation is interested in this opportunity please make contact with Helen.

3. Feedback from the Town and Country Planning Association’s Net-Zero Policies Conference

The written ministerial statement in December 2023 stated that government does not expect local authorities to set policies in Local Plans to exceed building regulations unless 1) viability is demonstrated and 2) the targets are expressed as a percentage uplift of the Target Emission Rate. It’s the second of these that is causing an issue for many authorities as the TER metric is not supported by industry because it’s difficult to monitor post construction – absolute emissions in kWh/m2/year is preferred.

LETI has suggested that the written ministerial statement has less weight than legislation, which does allow local authorities to exceed building regulations. Therefore the advice is to proceed with enhanced evidence bases.

Will noted that Teignbridge has compliant viability evidence which has been led by the planning team.

Doug added that the Climate Task Force has raised the need to ensure planning is doing more for the climate emergency and has offered to help with a further conversation with planners to understand what measures are needed to overcome the barriers previously discussed with Team Devon in September 2023. Doug will speak with the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers Group about this in the first instance.

4. Programme Progress Report

The progress reported appended to these minutes was considered. No further questions asked.

5. Carbon Plan’s Transport Progress Report

The Group used a Miro Board to add implementation updates for each of the actions in the transport section.

The Board will remain open until midday on the 27th for further comments. Emily will then use the comments to prepare the final report for the Response Group at its meeting on the 3rd April.

ACTION: All to add further comments to the Miro Board.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: February to March 2024

1. Partnership Update

1.1 General Communications

Growth of following this month is 2.3%, which is the highest for a few months. LinkedIn and the newsletter subscribers recorded increases of 4% each. Recording of website metrics is now fixed but due to data gap the trends are not available. These will now be monitored.

Figure 1.1. DCE Online Following

Eight partners have confirmed £2k contributions towards the Climate Engagement role – these are from seven local authorities and Wales & West. Still awaiting decision from a few partners.

The secretariat has permission to recruit into the role and for Devon CC to host via the University of Exeter Graduate Business Partnership scheme. This will progress immediately and partners offering funding will be invoiced in April.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

Note that due to the absence of the Climate Engagement post we’ve been unable to get all stories on the website. We have been logging those sent to us so that when resource increases we can get them online.

  • The Low Carbon Devon project has reported its success.

2.   Oversight of the Devon Carbon Plan

The Progress Reports detailing known activity against each action are on the website. A summary of the number of actions categorised by each RAG status is provided below, split by theme.

Blue = Completed

Red = Not started or activity significantly limited

Amber = Progressing but geography or scope is limited

Green = Generally progressing well

Grey = Not yet assessed

Built Environment

Pie chart showing 7 amber, 1 red, 4 blue, 5 green

Common Issues

  • Finance required to expand geography.
  • Finance required for more people resource, particularly spatial planning

Economy and Resources

Pie chart showing 7 amber, 17 green and 3 red

Common Issues

  • Clearer guidance from government on aspects of waste management needed.
  • Finance required for more people resource

Energy Supply

Pie chart showing 11 amber, 1 blue and 6 green

Common Issues

  • Government appetite to address issues e.g. grid capacity, planning for wind
  • Availability of capital finance

Food, Land and Sea (priority actions only)

Pie chart showing 8 amber, 5 green

Common Issues

  • Complexity of agendas, e.g. Land Use Framework and Local Nature Recovery Strategy
  • Finance required to expand geography and scope

Transport (priority actions only)

pie chart showing 2 amber, 1 red and 4 green

Common Issues

  • Grid capacity
  • Availability of capital finance

Cross-Cutting Themes

pie chart showing 2 amber, 1 blue, 4 green

Common Issues

  • Finance required for more people resource, particularly spatial planning
  • Finance required to expand geography

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.

3.    Oversight of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy

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

pie chart showing 2 grey, 4 green, 9 amber

The most common issue reported is needing to get better information about the extent to which communities are preparing for change. This is being explored with Devon Communities Together.

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. 

Public consultation started on the 12th February and closes on 24th March. The deal is scheduled to be agreed by Torbay’s and Devon’s cabinet’s in March and councils in April. Read the full Deal proposals here.

5.    Local Net-Zero Fund

In February the Tactical Group heard from the local authorities working on bids to the South West Net-Zero Hub’s Local Net-Zero Fund. It is excellent to see so many bids being developed as this will give the Hub evidence for government that demand is very real for net-zero projects.

The Group head about:

  • Devon CC is looking at advanced feasibility for solar PV on redundant landfill sites.
  • North Devon and Torridge are exploring a hydrogen economy map linking to their clean maritime innovation corridor.
  • South Hams and West Devon are considering feasibility for rapid EV charging at specific locations, providing electric boat charging from remote pontoons, and partnering with the community energy sector to progress a wind project.
  • Exeter is designing a bid to develop the Green Accord supply-chain greening product.
  • Teignbridge is looking at further energy efficiency works for leisure centres, street-scale decarbonisation for housing, and decarbonisation of heat and power for an industrial estate.
  • Torbay is contemplating bids to expand the pilot of a water source heat pump in Brixham harbour, solar feasibility and housing decarbonisation (talking to Teignbridge about this).

The opportunity for collaboration is limited by the £100k cap on the grant that each project can apply for. E.g. Devon CC’s project is likely to be requesting the full grant value and so there’s no room in the project to collaborate with Torbay on solar feasibility.

6.    Summary Comments

  • Communications activity and collation of partners’ activity against actions in the Carbon Plan has reduced due to resourcing of the secretariat.
  • The new progress reporting format identifies the common issues being reported that are preventing progress in each chapter of the Carbon Plan. Two that appear in more than one chapter are 1) the need for more resources, and 2) the need for new guidance/legislation/appetite from government. These have been added to the Issues Register.
  • The risks and near-term actions in the Climate Adaptation Strategy continue to be reviewed and monitored.
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