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Tactical Group Minutes 8th April 2020

Devon Climate Emergency Tactical Group minutes of meeting 8th April 2020.
You can download a PDF of the minutes here.


Doug Eltham, Devon County Council
Tom James, University of Exeter
Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust
John Golding, East Devon District Council
William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council
John Amosford, Public Health Devon


David Rose, South West Water
Andrew Busby, Mid Devon District Council
Richard Merrifield, Public Health Devon
Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency
Ellie Rowlands, Devon Climate Emergency
Sarah Higgins, North Devon District Council
Neil Hamlyn, Devon and Cornwall Police
Julia Wordley, Devon and Cornwall Police
Janet Williams, Torridge District Council

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

All actions that are not part of today’s discussion have been implemented.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1. Project Management and Communications Update

Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

It was AGREED that Harry Barton and William Elliott will help Ellie Rowlands and Emily Reed develop a short list of revised straplines for the project. This shortlist will be circulated to the Tactical Group to be whittled down to two options that will then be put to the vote on social media.

ACTION: Ellie Rowlands to arrange for Harry and William to help with the shortlist of revised project straplines.

The Group noted that Cornwall Council is currently consulting on a Climate Change Development Plan Document, which may provide knowledge sharing opportunities with regard to the use of the climate emergency as a material planning consideration.

Action: Doug Eltham to circulate the link to the Cornwall Council Development Plan Document consultation.

The Group discussed whether resources within organisations were being diverted away from climate change onto the Covid-19 response and whether any contingency planning within the project timetable was necessary for this. It was AGREED that climate change remains a priority and that is still being given resources but that this needs to be kept under review as the Covid-19 situation develops.

2.2  Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

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

The Group discussed that the Task Force has continued to refine the actions identified from the hearings and the call for evidence and is applying the principles of ‘systems thinking’ to the plan preparation.

The Group AGREED that despite the delay to the citizens’ assembly due to Covid-19, an assembly is still a vital part of the plan preparation process.  

2.3  Update on the Climate Impacts Group

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

The group noted that Covid-19 may affect the timetable of the outputs of the Climate Impacts Group as many of its members are involved in the direct response.

3. Greenhouse Gas Removal Funding Bid

The Group considered a funding bid being prepared by a consortium of organisations in the south west, led by the University of Exeter, to look at the detailed issues and co-benefits realisation of planting woodlands and hedgerows for carbon sequestration purposes.

It was AGREED that the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group should be recommended to prepare a support letter to accompany the funding bid.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to recommend to the Response Group that its chair submits a letter of support for the funding bid.

Harry Barton advised that there are various initiatives ongoing that link to this bid, including the Nature Recovery Network and the Saving Devon’s Treescapes projects.

ACTION: Harry will speak to Professor Ian Bateman to ensure connections are made.

4. Local Updates from Members

Each member provided an update on their activity to address the climate emergency locally. All members have been heavily focussed on the immediate response to the COvid-19 outbreak.

  • East Devon District Council – Approval to electrify white van fleet has been granted
  • Teignbridge District Council – Carbon footprint has been prepared and is working its way through the committee processes
  • Devon Wildlife Trust – Full-time member of staff now working on carbon reduction.
  • University of Exeter – Has been extremely Covid-19 focussed, offering laboratory space and expertise etc.
  • Devon County Council – Preparing the detail of the Carbon Reduction Plan that will implement the commitment to be net-zero by 2030
  • South West Water – David Rose submitted by email that their zero-carbon work has reached the phase where the industry is collecting information and ideas on how to meet our net zero commitments.

5. Funding Opportunities

No further funding opportunities shared.

6. Any other Business


7. Next meeting

May 6th, 11am – 12pm.  Meeting invitations have been sent.


Period: March – April 2020

Status Indicator key:

Red = Serious issues 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.Project Management Update

1.1  Activity Over the Past Month

Project Communications
New resources and tips for communities, local councils and individuals now online.   First electronic Newsletter was published on the 2nd April. 
‘Website phase 2’ has been delayed due to the Devon County Council web team focussing on Covid-19. Alternative strategy is to use an external web developer, which is being explored.   
Presence of the Climate Emergency at the County Show has been confirmed. County show postponed until August.  
Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration  
The recommendations discussed at the previous meeting were endorsed by the DCERG on the 17th March.  

Subsequently, Cornwall Council has launched a consultation on a Climate Change Development Plan Document. Doug Eltham will follow this up with Cornwall Council to compare notes.  

1.2  Activity Expected Next Month

Project Communications

  • Design of ‘Website Phase 2’ will continue.
  • Planning of the Devon Climate Emergency presence at the County Show will continue.
  • Amending the project strapline to reflect the resilience element of the project and the ecological emergency. 
  • Organisations’ climate commitments will begin to be compiled on the website.

Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration

  • The workshop proposed to explore the ‘unintended consequences’ of using the climate emergency as a material planning consideration will need to occur virtually – considering options for this. 

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan, including consideration of the earliest credible date that should be set for net-zero emissions.

2.1  Activity Over the Past Month

Online Call for Evidence  
Summaries of the Call for Evidence have been published online.  
Refining Actions for the Carbon Plan   The Task Force continues to identify the key actions for the carbon plan arising from the call for evidence and hearings. Task Force leads for each topic have met virtually with Emily Reed and Doug Eltham to progress this, as well as a session to start applying the principles of ‘systems thinking’ to the Plan.  

Implications of the latest Budget, Environment Bill and Agriculture are also being reviewed.   
Citizens’ Assembly and Carbon Plan Timetable  
Due to coronavirus, the timetable of the citizens’ assembly is now uncertain until the advice against mass gatherings is removed.  

A timetable for a initial version of the Plan informed by the Call for Evidence and Thematic Hearings, with a subsequent revision informed by the Citizens’ Assembly is being determined by the Task Force, as requested by the DCERG at its March meeting.  

This means that the timetable of the ESRC-funded project to evaluate the effectiveness of the citizens’ assembly may not align with the revised timetable for the Carbon Plan. Patrick Devine-Wright is identifying options.    
Public Engagement
Outline arrangements had been made for three public events to share the key findings and a Q&A with task force members. Future of these is uncertain due to Covid 19.

2.2  Activity Expected Next Month

Refining Actions for the Carbon Plan

  • Begin understanding the carbon saving potential of the actions. This may involve further conversations with additional witnesses and/or commission research as deemed necessary.
  • Over the next couple of months, the secretariat will visit project partners to discuss the emerging priority actions and understand what resources these would need and how those resources can be found.   
  • The Task Force will explore organising a virtual workshop to embed a systems thinking approach into the drawing up of the Devon Carbon Plan.

Citizens’ Assembly and Carbon Plan Timetable

  • A timetable for an initial Carbon Plan and subsequent revision will be determined.
  • Specific issues that the assembly will need to deliberate will continue to be compiled by the Net-Zero Task Force and research around these will be undertaken as necessary.
  • Watching brief will remain on government advice regarding mass gatherings.  

Public Engagement

  • Planning of the engagement events will continue to determine whether they can be held online.

3.     Climate Impacts Group Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use the expertise of the Local Resilience Forum to assess the current risks in the Community Risk Register that specifically ascertain to climate impact over the next 10-20 years.

[Note – the Group’s Terms of Reference are under review – see Section 2.1]

3.1  Activity Over the Past Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change  
The Met Office’s summary of the 2018 climate projections will be used to inform narratives describing in qualitative terms the effects of climate change on:  
Flood and coastal risk (led by the Environment Agency)
Health (led by Public Health England)
The natural environment (led by the Local Nature Partnership)  

The completion date has been set for May 2020, but this is likely to be revised due to the Groups’ members being closely involved in the Covid-19 response.

Devon County Council, on behalf of The Local Nature Partnership, has appointed the Westcountry Rivers Trust to undertake the review of climate risks for the natural environment.
Review of the Terms of Reference
The revised Terms of Reference has been drafted and will be agreed at the next meeting of the Group on the 20th April.  
Chair of the Climate Impacts Group (CIG) Paul Netherton, Devon and Cornwall Police, has stepped down as the chair of the CIG due to a change to his national role around resilience. Helen Dobby, Area Director of the Environment Agency, has accepted a nomination as chair which needs to be agreed by the CIG membership at its next meeting (likely to be April 20th, Covid-19 dependent).n/a

3.2  Activity Expected Next Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

Development of the narratives will continue.

Review of the Terms of Reference and new Chair

Terms of Reference will be adopted and new chair appointed, dependent on Covid-19.

4. Summary Comments

The Devon Carbon Plan is now in a phase of understanding the key actions that could be implemented locally and choices that should be deliberated by the citizens’ assembly.

The preparation of the Devon Carbon Plan will be delayed due to the inability to stage the citizens’ assembly. Clarity on this will await government advice but an interim timetable is being developed.

The Climate Impacts Group has started producing the impact narratives.

Overall, the project continues to perform well given the Covid-19 restrictions.

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