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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 7th December 2022


Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Charlotte Brown, Devon Climate Emergency

Donna Sibley, Torridge and North Devon District Councils

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Iain Miller, University of Plymouth

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

Lucinda Brook, Plymouth City Council

Louise Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

David Rose, South West Water


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

Sara Gibbs, Public Health Devon

Andy Seaman, University of Exeter

John Golding, East Devon District Council

William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council

Jacqui Warren , Torbay Council

Alex Gandy, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust

Archie Lawrence, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Jo Pearce, Exeter City Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

Actions carried over:

ACTION: Doug to catchup with David Rose about green bonds as an option to consider when financing net-zero.

ACTION: Doug to speak to Peter Lefort and Paul Hardman about any guidance Exeter and Plymouth universities could provide the partnership about attracting finance for net-zero.  

ACTION: Doug to speak to Devon County Council’s Economy and Enterprise team about attracting finance for net-zero.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Communications

Charlotte provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes. No further questions asked.

2.2 Updates from the Net Zero Task Force

Emily listed organisations which have already endorsed the Devon Carbon Plan or are in the process of doing so.

ACTION: All to keep the Secretariat informed about any organisations endorsing the Carbon Plan.

2.3 Updates on the Climate Impacts Group

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

3. Future Partnership Governance

The Response Group has mandated the Tactical Group and Task Force to develop alternative proposals for a future governance structure. Emily provided a PowerPoint that detailed the objectives of this alternative structure, an overview of the original structure, what progress has been made so far, a stakeholder mapping exercise and ideas for the new structure.

Emily then asked for feedback on the ideas for the new structure.

Jason questioned why the Planning Officers’ Group was separate from other Delivery Groups including Energy Supply/Retrofit. Emily clarified that there is some overlap between groups, but the idea is to have many existing stakeholders and delegate specific priority actions to them. Jason replied that Planning deals with a range of themes and that people within the Planning group will have different outlooks depending on their role.

Louise agreed with Jason and said that a lot of the Delivery Groups are interconnected, so multiple groups would need to be approached to deliver actions. She also questioned why the Planning Officers’ Group was separate as they impact other Delivery Groups. Emily said that the Planning Officers’ Group already exists but agreed that it may be problematic to not have broader groupings.

Louise then said that the Response Group would become huge and difficult to manage if the Tactical Group was removed. Emily responded that she sees the merit of keeping the Tactical Group but that it needs to be differentiated from the Response Group.

John drew on his experience with other programme groups to suggest that the Response Group could hold a leadership/strategic role. He proposed that the Tactical Group could unpack system issues which are passed up to the Response Group, who enforce a positive direction of travel. He suggested that the Response Group should not become a supergroup, and subsequently that it is important to look at how working with the Delivery Groups is managed.

Iain said that it might be helpful to include statistics on how many tonnes of carbon each Delivery Group is responsible for (although there may be overlap between groups). This would help to get a sense of the size and importance of each group and potentially allow for smaller groups to be merged.

David suggested that the Planning group needs to be innovative and forward-looking, and expressed concerns that radical thinking would be stifled. He suggested that broader theme groups for energy and transport would be good. Emily asked whether the original set of Theme Groups are needed if we are delegating actions to existing groups as in the new proposed structure. Jason replied that there is a difference between the governance structure and who needs to get involved in the delivery of actions. He also said that the mention of engagement at community events and youth forums at the top of the new suggested governance diagram was too specific as it may suggest that engagement is restricted to those events.

Lu questioned what would happen if the Tactical Group was removed as it keeps her connected to what is happening. She also said that there is a need to break through the ‘silos’ of different groups and a more dynamic set up may be required – a rigid structure as in the current governance structure might encourage existing groups to keep the same organisation and agenda rather than focusing on key actions. Emily responded that the groups in the structure would come and go depending on progress on the actions. Lu added that a variety of different skills and perspectives need to be brought together to create more action.

John suggested that people coalesce on a selection of key points or themes, then see how other partnerships can link in.

Emily then switched to presenting a stakeholder map on Microsoft Whiteboard.

Jason liked this diagram and said it does a better job of explaining how things will work. He preferred this to the hierarchical diagram as it shows that progress is drawn from different layers of the Devon community. Emily said that the Response Group would have a strategic role and partnerships would be approached to own actions. Jason and Emily agreed that the structure needs to be flexible.

Catherine expressed concern that the partnership has no funding or power to require participants to own actions. She said that the partnership can encourage action but cannot provide enough incentive to guarantee delivery. Emily replied that resource must be sought at multiple levels and that the task will not be easy. John and Catherine discussed how the group should not take for granted that people believe climate actions are required, and that Devon residents have a range of opinions on climate change and how it should be funded.

Emily asked for input on anyone who had been missed out of the current diagram. She then asked the group about what structure would best drive the agenda forward – approaching existing groups to distribute ownership of the actions, or the originally suggested structure containing Theme Boards?

Lu suggested that each group could be approached with a range of actions they could be responsible for and asked to feedback on which actions they can deliver. Catherine agreed and said that groups could be asked what they are currently doing, what they are prepared to do, what they do not want to do or is out of their remit etc. This would allow the partnership to capture what is already happening, see where gaps are in actions taking place, and encourage groups who do not feel able to take on actions or find another group instead.

Emily summarised that it sounds like it is helpful to reach out to stakeholders to get their feedback, for the Response Group to meet monthly as a strategic group, and for the Tactical Group to continue.

It was AGREED that the Response Group should continue to meet monthly.

Lu said that the Tactical Group does not need a formal structure, and that it is just helpful to know what everyone else is working on.

John suggested that there is a need to clarify the Response Group’s purpose before identifying the purpose of the Tactical Group. Emily agreed and replied that the Response Group’s role could be more strategic while the Tactical Group keeps everyone up to date. Jason added that the Tactical Group leads to good cross-pollination of ideas and asked whether the Tactical Group could operate in a more flexible way, coming together when ideas need to be exchanged or when the Response Group needs support.

Emily proposed the idea that the Tactical Group could become more similar to the Inter-Authority Climate Change Officers Group for the South West, in that someone different chairs every month. Louise responded that the group needs someone to bring it all together. John said that changing who chairs could imply that the resource for the Tactical Group will not be available, and that the group will eventually stop. He added that Emily and Doug have driven the group forward and their influence should not be underestimated. John suggested that a body could be commissioned to drive this agenda forward.

Emily suggested that an independent Task Force could be maintained but that the Net Zero Task Force could be expanded to include more adaptation expertise. She continued that the Task Force could be an independent scrutiny body to ask questions and provide helpful suggestions.

Emily asked whether the Tactical Group need more time to deliberate on the governance structure. The group AGREED more time is needed.

Jason concluded that the ideas make sense but that the diagrams may not do the idea justice.

ACTION: Secretariat to share the Whiteboard with the Tactical Group so that any stakeholders which are missing can be identified.

ACTION: Secretariat will meet with the existing partnerships/groups that have been identified as potentially performing the oversight and/or delivery function for the priority actions to get their feedback on their appetite to help.

ACTION: Secretariat will refine the diagrams to show which partnerships/groups will provide oversight of the priority actions, and which will deliver the actions (acknowledging that the two roles are different).

ACTION: Emily requested that AOB is emailed to the group after the meeting.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: November to December 2022

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 🟢 [GREEN]

1.1.1 Following

Growth rate across all channels remains at around 2%.

We are set to finish 2022 with just under 9500 total followers. This is an increase of roughly 2000 followers (21%) over the past calendar year.

A line graph showing the online communications following increasing on all channels
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following
1.1.2 Campaigns

Business Engagement 🟠 [AMBER]

Delayed due to other priorities – Secretariat is looking to do more work around business engagement. Initially, this will consist of putting together a slide pack with actions for organisations sourced from the Devon Carbon Plan Quick Read slides, which can be distributed via the South West Business Council. These will encourage businesses to endorse the Devon Climate Declaration. We will also be reviewing and updating the resources for business available on the DCE website and asking businesses to put forward case studies that we can showcase as part of a longer campaign.

Challenge-setters for the University of Exeter 🟢 [GREEN]

  • DCE are acting as one of several challenge-setters for the University of Exeter’s second year Thinktank module. The students will be researching the question, “What is required to enable and encourage young people, including university students, to adopt more net-zero habits and lifestyles?” on behalf of DCE.
  • We will be attending the students’ final presentations, detailing the results of their research, on Monday 12th December. We can then aim to integrate their findings into DCE action and communications in the new year, with the hope of increasing the number of young people engaged with the project.

Adaptation Plan Consultation 🟢 [GREEN]

Communications around the Adaptation Plan consultation – expected to take place in February/March 2023 – are currently being planned. More updates will follow closer to the time.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement 🟠 [AMBER]

The Community Engagement Sub-Group nominated Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to bring a proposal back to them to enhance the Community Action Group activity across Devon. This has yet to happen due to other priorities. However, a funding bid to Innovate UK was submitted by Devon County Council on 30/11/22 which includes resources to accelerate the design and scoping work for this service. We will be notified in January 2023 on the outcome.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • The Devon Wildlife Trust are hosting 20 tree events throughout winter as part of the Saving Devon’s Treescapes project, aiming to restore trees lost to ash dieback disease.
  • Devon County Council have submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case for the reopening of the Tavistock to Plymouth rail line to the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme.
  • BBC Radio Devon’s ‘Make a Difference’ Environment Award 2022 has recognised the achievements of the Teignbridge Wildlife Warden Scheme.
  • A new nursery garden project in Torbay is developing a micro-nursery site for trees that can then be planted elsewhere to improve local green spaces.
  • Free training courses delivered by Devon County Council and Cornwall Council are available for specialisms including regenerative farming, electric vehicle maintenance and green construction.
  • Edwards Court, the first Extra Care facility in the Exeter area and the first in the UK to be built and certified to Passivhaus standards, has now opened.

1.3 Governance

At its meeting on the 30th October, the Response Group agreed to review the future governance arrangements for the partnership to see if an alternative could be developed that would be less resource intensive and enable a greater focus on delivery.

The Secretariat has reviewed governance models used elsewhere, as recommended by the Local Government Association, ADEPT and political science and geography researchers at the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter. The Tactical Group has also fed-in to the scoping through a workshop.

The Response Group considered the findings at its meeting on the 30th November and provided further recommendations on a future structure. These will be shared with the Tactical Group and refined into potential structures during December.

The Response Group is expecting to select a preferred option at its meeting on the 10th January. However if more time is necessary to develop a workable and useful setup then this will be extended.

2. Devon Carbon Plan Update 🟢 [GREEN] 

Partners, as well as organisations beyond the partnership, are now encouraged to endorse the Plan through their governance arrangements during the autumn. Organisations that have endorsed so far are:

  • Plymouth City Council
  • Mid Devon District Council
  • East Devon District Council
  • Devon County Council
  • Dartmoor National Park Authority
  • Devon Association of Local Councils

North Devon, West Devon, Exeter and Torbay Councils have the Plan progressing through decision making processes.

A number of partners developed funding bids to the Innovate UK Net-Zero Pioneer Places fund. Devon County Council submitted a bid on the Devon Carbon Plan cross-cutting theme of ‘Knowledge Sharing, Skills and Learning’, bringing together the projects on this theme that need developing in partnership, such as the Farming Advice Service, Energy Advice Service, SME Net-Zero Advice, Net-Zero Skills Training. West Devon Borough Council and Exeter City Futures also prepared bids.

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

RSK has completed its first draft of the climate risk register and has shared this with the Climate Impacts Group for comment. Sub-group workshops occurred during October for colleagues to meet in four themed groups to discuss magnitude and urgency scoring.

Further workshops occurred in November to capture the potential adaptation options and actions against each risk.

Case studies are being collected to illustrate the Adaptation Strategy.

The Adaptation Strategy is expected to be completed by January 2023 for public consultation in early spring. The Group is discussing how that consultation would be handled in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

4. Devolution Update

Government has advised that devolution is paused until at least January.

5. Summary Comments

  • The Devon Carbon Plan has launched and partners continue to implement it. 
  • The Adaptation Plan is being prepared.
  • New governance arrangements are being reviewed.
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