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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 9th November 2022


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Charlotte Brown, Devon Climate Emergency

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Sara Gibbs, Public Health Devon

Iain Miller, University of Plymouth

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Andy Seaman, University of Exeter

Donna Sibley, Torridge and North Devon District Councils

Jo Pearce, Exeter City Council

Lucinda Brook, Plymouth City Council

Louise Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

Archie Lawrence, South Hams and West Devon Councils


John Golding, East Devon District Council

David Rose, South West Water

William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council

Jacqui Warren , Torbay Council

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Alex Gandy, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust

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

Doug asked for questions and comments about the project communications. No further questions asked.

2.2 Updates from the Net Zero Task Force

Doug asked for questions and comments about the update from the Net-Zero Task Force. No further questions asked.

Doug asked whether any other councils or organisations had endorsed the Devon Carbon Plan. The Tactical Group said that there were no new updates.

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

2.3 Updates on the Climate Impacts Group

Doug asked for questions and comments about the update from the Climate Impacts Group. No further questions asked.

Catherine requested that Doug distributes the Climate Risk Register again.

ACTION: Doug to redistribute the Climate Risk Register.

ACTION: All to provide case studies illustrating examples of climate adaptation, covering any example or sector. Send to Emily.

2.4 Risk and Issues Registers

Doug provided an update on the Issues Log. Issues regarding the low prioritisation of devolution, and resourcing issues for the Climate Impacts Group, have both been closed. A new issue stating that the current future governance arrangements are likely to be too resource intensive and focussed on monitoring outputs was opened.

3. Future Governance Brainstorm

The Response Group has mandated the Tactical Group and Task Force to develop alternative proposals for a future governance structure to bring to its next meeting on 30th November. Doug provided a PowerPoint that summarises the current proposal and related concerns from the Secretariat and Task Force, as well as a Word document with a record of new ideas from within and outside the partnership so far.

Lucinda commented that making the current proposal less formal may work better.

The group considered the following prompts and recorded their answers using Microsoft Whiteboard via Teams:

  • We envisage the people of Devon collectively taking action to deliver the Carbon Plan and the Adaptation Plan. This activity will extend well beyond the membership of the partnership, so what value does the governance structure need to offer? What’s it for?

Doug commented that people in Devon may not care about how the governance structure works, but do care about its outcomes.

  • What do you think about focussing the reporting on the priority actions? These are generally overcoming the systemic and structural issues.

Doug explained that this prompt refers to streamlining the process, based on the idea that not every action has to happen at once.

Jason said that some actions in the Devon Carbon Plan will not be relevant for some time but will become relevant later.

Doug suggested that, if the focus is on priority actions, there may be a small number of people in the county with a key role in delivering these. If this was the case, the governance structure could be relatively small. He also cautioned that non-priority actions should not disappear completely as many are still important.

  • Delivery – what do you think about having one delivery group, made up of a small number of people responsible for delivering the priority actions? Essentially small sub-groups within one larger group.

Lucinda said that this structure may introduce difficulties with covering everything on the agenda. She suggested a sequential roll out for actions, with the board changing to allow for more flexibility. Doug said that the Task Force were in favour of theme groups talking to each other and having a changing board could inhibit this.

Doug said that the group needs time and resources to deliver the actions, and that decisions for how these are allocated need to be made by the partners. Andy said that, unless the group is given time and resources to deliver the actions, progress will be stopped at the discussion stage. He continued that resourcing needs to be a key message around the governance structure, and that ideally people who sign up to this should be given time and part of their roles to deliver their project. Doug added Andy’s points to the first prompt, stating that the point of the governance structure is to commit resources and time to deliver this project.

  • How should the experts (the people on the proposed theme boards) interact with the influencers on the Response Group?

Doug recalled that the Task Force suggested that people who can influence action need to be in the same room as people who are delivering the projects.

Doug asked Lucinda whether the Plymouth executive meeting was three times a year. Lucinda confirmed this and said that their approach is for the thematic groups to be less formal. She suggested that the current governance structure could also be less formal, but that Plymouth hasn’t yet seen how this informal approach will pan out.

  • How often should the whole partnership come together, if at all, for a day or half day of discussion and celebration, as suggested by the Task Force?

Doug said that it is easier to engage with the whole county after the pandemic. He continued that having exclusively in-person meetings could be a barrier to people getting involved, and that a mixed approach of in-person and online meetings might be appropriate.

  • Representation – what do you think about keeping the climate change forum and ensuring it’s diverse, and then focussing on ensuring people involved in the more regular delivery catch-ups are the right people?

Lucinda said that she dislikes the term ‘board’ as it sounds passive. Doug suggested the term should be ‘action group’ instead.

Jo said that Exeter’s lead councillor for climate change is enthusiastic about being involved with action, but that he would reach a limit of groups he could be involved in.

  • What do you think of the idea of an online dashboard that the secretariat updates regularly? Would you be willing to feed-in the significant items you know are happening on your patch? How often would you have time to do this?

Doug said that this approach would only ever capture a small proportion of actions taking place across Devon, but that it would have information from partners and prominent community organisations.

Catherine stated that East Devon are looking to do something similar and asked whether this dashboard would be standardised across all districts. Doug suggested that people could pick indicators in the Devon Carbon Plan that are relevant to their area, and potentially in the future the dashboard could be filtered for a specific district.

Sara said that, if all plans are aligned to the Devon Carbon Plan, anyone could report on meeting the actions as laid out in the action plan spreadsheet. Doug said that if the Tactical Group have their own governance structures and collate their own actions, they could forward it to himself or Emily to put on the online dashboard. Sara added that the process of recording actions should only happen once. Doug agreed and said that ideally local plans would identify progress on the Devon Carbon Plan, while other actions could be kept within their respective groups.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: October to November 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

The growth rate across all channels has stabilised at around 2%. Across all platforms, we have a total of 9300 followers.

A line graph showing the Devon Climate Emergency Online Communications Following. Lines for all platforms are increasing.
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following

1.1.2 Campaigns

Business Engagement

  • DCE are now 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.
  • The DCE has collaborated with the Low Carbon Devon Showcase on 11th November to understand barriers and business opportunities for decarbonisation. Over 190 delegates from businesses are attending.

Challenge-setters for the University of Exeter

  • DCE are acting as one of several challenge-setters for the University of Exeter’s second year Thinktank module.
  • DCE will be presenting to and interacting with the students from September to December. 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.
  • This month, students are completing their research in preparation for a virtual presentation of their findings to DCE in mid-December.

Devon-Wide Community Engagement

  • 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. However, this will be progressed in November – delayed from October!

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

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

  • A zero-carbon housing development set to be built on the St Andrew’s Estate in Cullompton has received the Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) award in the South West’s Constructing Excellence Awards.
  • Share Shed is expanding with a new weekly service to Ivybridge and Kingsbridge, supported by a grant from South Hams District Council’s Climate Infrastructure Fund.
  • Plymouth City Council has partnered with local charity Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) to form the Future Fit programme, which will see £4 million used for energy upgrades across up to 300 eligible homes.
  • The University of Exeter and QS Quacquarelli Symonds have coordinated the global Future17 programme, enabling students to complete work experience on real-world sustainability projects.

1.3 Governance

At its meeting on the 30th October, the Response Group agreed to review the future governance arrangements for the parntership to see if an alternative could be developed that would be less resource intensive and enable a greater focus on delivery. The Response Group is expecting some options to be discussed at its next meeting on the 30th November and a preferred option to be selected at its subsequent 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. Plymouth City Council, Mid Devon District Council, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council and Exeter City Council’s Executive (due for Council in December) have endorsed.

A partnership response was submitted on the 27th October based on the barriers to net-zero recorded in the Devon Carbon Plan.

A number of partners are developing funding bids to the Innovate UK Net-Zero Pioneer Places fund.

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. The groups were natural environment, infrastructure, health & built environment, and business, industry & international dimensions.

Further meetings have been held between RSK and the secretariat with the Local Resilience Forum and Wales and West Utilities.

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.

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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