Devon Carbon Plan
This is the full length Devon Carbon Plan – all the background information, research and detail regarding how Devon can become net-zero across five intersecting themes. This version is best suited to anyone looking to learn about the full scope of the climate emergency in Devon, and how Devon will tackle this.
Cross Cutting Themes
The Net-Zero Task Force has looked at the whole picture to see how Devon can cut its emissions to net-zero and avoid the pitfalls from thinking about sectors in isolation. For example, switching off streetlighting to save energy without community consultation may make walking and cycling less attractive.
This section explores the themes which are cross-cutting to all sections of the Plan and describes what needs to happen for those themes to achieve net-zero. It subsequently introduces a set of goals which need to be achieved to overcome issues that the Net-Zero Task Force has learned from the Thematic Hearings and the public Call for Evidence are barriers to achieving net-zero across all sectors. Actions are proposed to achieve the goals.
6.2 The Change Needed
The cross-cutting themes are:
- Behaviour change and community engagement
- Knowledge sharing, skills and learning
- Spatial planning
- Access to finance and resources
- Procurement and commissioning
Each of these themes is described further below.
6.2.1 Behaviour change and community engagement
Whilst Devon needs behaviour change and technological solutions for the Plan to be successful, just waiting for technology to mature, such as hydrogen vehicles or carbon capture and storage solutions, risks delaying action.
Within the next decade, the lives we lead and the way we behave need to be different. Here are just some of the ways our behaviour needs to change:
- how and when we use energy
- how we travel
- how and when we buy products and services
- what we do with products after we’ve bought them
- what we eat
- how we live in and use buildings
- our behaviour at work.
Behaviour change needs motivation, ability and reminders. For example, to cycle to work you need:
- to live close enough to work or have access to a park and ride/cycle service
- to be motivated to cycle, for example to get healthier, to save money or to enjoy the sunshine on the way to work
- to be able to ride a bike
- access to a working bike
- equipment like a helmet and waterproof
- to know of and have access to a safe route suitable for cycling
- a safe place for your bike at work
- reminders like seeing your helmet hanging by your coat, cycle routes near your house, obvious cycle parking at work and colleagues arriving by bike.
Large-scale, deep behavioural change is difficult and requires systemic changes, but it can be achieved with a combination of providing support to change certain behaviours alongside introducing new policies, technologies and infrastructure. Twenty-five percent of a population doing a behaviour is needed for it to become a social norm.1 The move to homeworking during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we can achieve social tipping points quickly if we engage whole communities to change together.
Behaviours which reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) need to be easier to adopt and people need to understand and desire the benefits for their health, prosperity and quality of life. Everyone needs to feel they can be part of the solution. Community organisations are important in enabling behavioural change as they have strong networks, local and specialist knowledge and tend to be highly motivated.
6.2.2 Knowledge sharing, skills and learning
We each need the skills and knowledge to switch to net-zero lifestyles at work, at home and when taking leisure and recreation. A lack of people with the needed skills could limit how quickly we can install newer technologies, like heat pumps to houses.2
Equal opportunities for learning and skills sharing are critical to a fair transition to net-zero, so that no individual or community is left-behind. Devon’s business support services, schools, colleges, universities and community groups have an important role in providing the training needed.
6.2.3 Spatial planning
A net-zero Devon will be different from how it is now. Where things are and how they connect affect GHG emissions. High car-based mobility in Devon has meant that many rural communities have lost local services.
We need to consider how to organise housing and employment space so that we can get to shops, workplaces and services by walking, cycling and on public transport more easily.
We can proactively and sensitively plan for changes needed within our rural and urban areas to achieve net-zero, such as through the Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans we make together. Achieving net-zero can produce better places to live, work and relax, as well as cutting emissions.
6.2.4 Access to finance and resources
Innovative ways of funding and resourcing the actions in this Plan are needed. Some solutions are commercially viable and can be designed to generate income streams that can be re-circulated into further carbon-reduction activity and could subsidise loss-making actions. Others could make use of crowd-sourced funds, where members of the community have an opportunity to donate or invest. There is growing interest from institutional investors to put money into socially and environmentally ethical projects as these are seen as having lower investment risk and potential to generate stable investment returns in the long term.3 In addition to this is the growing number of corporate organisations committing to achieve net-zero emissions from their own operations and needing to pay for carbon offsetting projects – this money could be attracted to Devon.
6.2.5 Procurement and commissioning
All organisations have influence on achieving net-zero through what they buy, who they buy it from and how they engage with their suppliers.
The NHS and councils are examples of anchor institutions, those organisations which are unlikely to relocate and are large employers in the County. Anchor institutions have an important leadership role in procurement as they can be a supplier’s largest client. This means a supplier will often change its behaviour for all of its other clients to make life easier. Suppliers will also need to pass on the anchor institutions’ requirements deeper into the supply chain, contributing to a trickle-down effect. This is explored further in the rest of the Plan, particularly in the section on Economy & Resources and Food, Land & Sea.
6.2.6 Relationship with the Plan’s Themes
These cross-cutting themes are delivered by actions throughout this Plan. Figure 6.1 shows how the actions arising in other sections of this Plan relate to the cross-cutting themes.
6.3 Other Opportunities and Benefits
Cross sector collaboration to achieve a net-zero Devon can deliver multiple benefits on top of carbon savings, including:
- A culture of innovation
- New economic and employment opportunities
- Citizens feel part of creating the future of Devon
- Communities with shared visions of what their community could look like
- Revitalised, thriving communities with access to the things they need within local reach
- Landscapes which are more resilient to climate change.
6.4 Devon’s Goals to Meet Net-Zero
Devon has five Cross Cutting goals for how we achieve net-zero.
6.4.1 Goal CA – Devon Embraces Innovation to Achieve Net-Zero
Achieving net-zero will need innovation in technologies, institutions, business models, policy designs and approaches to encouraging and enabling behaviour change.4
Making It Happen
Organisations in Devon needs to monitor technological developments and assess and test their potential to help achieve net-zero in Devon.
We must also offer support for innovation, especially in sectors the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership identifies as high value with the potential to contribute to green growth. These include high-tech electronics and photonics, marine research, climate and environmental science expertise (including big data handling) and clean energy.5
C1. Foster innovation in technologies, institutions, business models, policy design and behaviour to achieve net-zero.
SETsquared Exeter6 is a member of an inspiring enterprise partnership between six leading research-led UK universities: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey. It is a community of entrepreneurs who enable regional creators, innovators and disruptors to grow and develop business ideas. Based at the Exeter Science Park, it provides award-winning business support to help turn ideas into flourishing ventures. SETsquared Exeter offers specialist acceleration and incubation support for founders of high-growth, knowledge-based start-ups, provides programmes for students to explore entrepreneurial ideas, and initiatives to help researchers work more innovatively.
6.4.2 Goal CB – Devon’s Communities Imagine and Deliver their Net-Zero Future
Imagining alternative, better futures for Devon can build public understanding of the crisis nature of the emergency, develop support for the change to net-zero and encourage us to risk doing radically different things.7 Supporting communities to re-imagine themselves as net-zero increases local capacity for change.8
Making It Happen
Community groups need to be helped to work with Devon’s creatives, such as artists, writers, and musicians to develop detailed, local net-zero visions. This work could build an evidence base for neighbourhood plans.
Communities also need to be supported to start delivering their visions, however small their initial steps are. Support programmes work best when they help a community deliver an initiative for which local enthusiasm already exists – this is the ethos of the Community Action Groups Devon project, which has helped communities establish Repair Cafes and Share Sheds, and the support that has been provided for communities to develop their own energy projects over the past decade.9 Projects like these should be expanded.
C2. Provide high quality, objective information and education for communities about the crisis nature of the climate emergency.
C3. Support communities to develop local net-zero visions.
C4. Provide support to communities to deliver their low-carbon transformation.
Net Zero Visions
Acclaimed professionals in animation, illustration, interactive games, and public murals worked with communities to produce positive ‘Visions’ of locations across Devon as carbon net-zero in 2050.10 Individuals could submit their own visions online (See Figure 6.1).
Visions featured in an online gallery, as well as in a book to be published in November 2022. Public libraries across Devon will receive a free copy.
The visions have sparked public interest, for example, the mural in Tiverton has led to enquiries to councils about how they could work with the community to deliver elements of the visions. It is hoped that individuals and groups will take and adapt the ‘Net-Zero Visions’ idea to their own projects and purposes.
The project is led by Dr David Sergeant, Associate Professor in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Dr Emma Whittaker, Creative Industries Industrial Research Fellow, Low Carbon Devon, University of Plymouth.
6.4.3 Goal CC – Devon’s Citizens Shape the Transition to Net-Zero
The public have helped develop the Devon Carbon Plan through multiple opportunities to date: the Call for Evidence, a series of Thematic Hearings, a Youth Parliament workshop and the public consultation on the draft Interim Devon Carbon Plan.
The Devon Climate Assembly in the summer of 2021 provided a further opportunity for public participation through a 70-strong representative sample of Devon’s population. There will be further challenges on the journey to net-zero that will benefit from involving Devon’s citizens in finding the solutions.
Making It Happen
We need to understand the effectiveness of the Devon Climate Assembly. Then we can consider the appropriateness of using similar forums and existing best practice models around neighbourhood and community planning again in future, either to continue work on the Devon Carbon Plan or for other local issues.
C5. Research the effectiveness of the Devon Climate Assembly to inform whether this approach could be applied to citizen participation in other decisions locally.
6.4.4 Goal CD – Spatial Planning Creates Places that Radically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We need thriving communities giving access to most of our everyday needs within a short and pleasant walk or cycle ride – sometimes called ‘the 20-minute neighbourhood’.11 This will substantially increase opportunities for active travel minimising car use. This re-localisation of employment, services, amenities and cultural spaces is key to reducing travel demand. Changes to the location of key facilities, and to the networks of paths and streets, could be modelled to predict how different interventions might improve the connectivity of the neighbourhood and to ensure that more people can easily access the facilities they need for their daily lives. There may be opportunities to increase the density of development by providing new homes and facilities. This in turn might make public transport, shops and other facilities more viable. Such modelling could guide long-term investment.
This is, of course, easier said than done, and so flexibility of this vision is required. Outside of Devon’s main settlements, market towns and their surrounding villages can be planned to function as ‘network neighbourhoods’ providing most of the needs of residents. In more rural areas the combination of existing and new walking and cycling routes could create a close network of villages and hamlets functioning as one neighbourhood. Electric bikes are a breakthrough technology here – making longer journeys easy and low-carbon. Adding short public and shared transport trips to the travel modes can further help deliver this vision of re-localised communities providing themselves with the services they need.
Any plans to create a 20-minute neighbourhood should be based on what the local community wants. However, the characteristics in Figure 6.4 are likely to be part of the mix.
One Planet Development
If everybody on Earth lived the same lifestyle as we do in the UK, we would need 2.6 planets to provide enough resources.12
One Planet Development (OPD) is a forward-thinking planning policy adopted by the Welsh Government in 2011.13 It provides a genuinely affordable and sustainable way for people to live and work on their own land and achieve a true one planet footprint. It can work for rural and urban communities with residents contributing to local economies, providing fresh food and other produce, and opportunities for education and training about many aspects of zero carbon living.
OPD residents must achieve the target One Planet ecological footprint and meet their basic household needs (food, energy, water, waste processing, IT/communications, council tax, clothing, and transport) from their land-based activity within 5 years. A robust management plan is required at planning application stage to show how these and other requirements will be achieved. Annual monitoring reports must be sent to the local authorities’ Planning Departments.
One Planet homes are required to be zero carbon in construction and use. They are often self-built, sometimes using some volunteer labour, so are lower cost and educational.
Single household OPD may be a niche choice, but it is a way to live a true One Planet or zero carbon life and can inspire others to make changes to their lifestyles to assist the achievement of net-zero. Devon should support this approach.
At larger scale OPD also has potential to accelerate the creation of zero carbon 20-minute neighbourhoods as it focuses on a whole land use system rather than just proximity and transport, also reaping the carbon benefits of local food, energy production and work. It could be an innovative model for addressing the challenges of affordable housing and zero carbon communities together.
Making It Happen
A step-change in how we plan and what we plan for is required. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) already provides local authorities with the mandate to “shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”.14
Development plans should include carbon reduction targets as a primary planning objective to encourage appropriate policy responses to deliver against that aim. This will be a mix of solutions that will vary between places drawing on the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods and OPD to maximise the potential for all places to reach net-zero.
C6. Development plans to demonstrate how they will shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a primary planning objective, including drawing on the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods and One Planet Development.
6.4.5 Goal CE – Landscape Change Arising from the Net-Zero Challenge is Planned for Positively
The quality and character of Devon’s landscape is one of the County’s most important assets and is the reason why many people choose to visit and to live here. Devon’s complex geology has created a striking diversity of landscapes including windswept high moors of Dartmoor and Exmoor, heathlands, secluded valleys, rugged coastlines, sweeping bays and rolling farmland. Thirty-five percent of Devon is designated as one of two National Parks (Dartmoor and Exmoor) or as one of five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
As through history, landscapes will evolve in response to the pressures put on them, such as the need to provide food, energy or mineral resources. Without positive interventions landscapes could change fundamentally in the future in response to the pressures from the changing climate. Yet responding to the net-zero challenge offers an opportunity to revitalise landscapes. Some features that will help meet net-zero may mimic the past, such as the expansion of carbon-rich, semi-natural habitats and in the re-emergence of market gardening. Others will be new, such as increased use of agroforestry which, nonetheless, may reflect the orcharding tradition in the County, and others may offer a new vernacular such as the greater use of timber in construction.
Making It Happen
Devon’s Landscape Character Assessment is the tool to manage and guide changes. It describes the variations in character between different areas and types of landscape in the County. It provides an evidence base to inform decisions about spatial planning and other land use considerations, articulating what people see as distinctive and special about all landscapes in Devon. It also sets out strategies and guidelines for the protection, management and planning of the landscape. 15
The NPPF contains both the imperative to ‘shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ as well as the need to conserve and enhance landscape and heritage assets.14 The challenge that now needs to be addressed by all landscape character assessments is to identify what is the greatest benefit that individual landscapes can offer in terms of: (a) meeting net-zero; and (b) increasing the resilience of landscapes to climate change. Some people have concerns about tensions between the changes which need to occur to achieve net-zero and protecting our landscapes. It is therefore important that communities are involved in the evolution of landscape character assessments so that people have an opportunity to be engaged with how Devon will look and feel in the future.
C7. Involve communities in an update to the landscape strategies and guidelines within Devon’s Landscape Character Assessments to plan positively for achieving net-zero and the changes which climate change will bring.
6.5 Summary of the Actions
The diagram below, Figure 6.5, shows the reference number and text of each of the Cross Cutting Themes actions in this Plan. The anticipated start and duration of each action is shown on the right hand side of the diagram.
The action with its duration highlighted in red in Figure 6.5 below has been identified as a priority through two processes. Firstly, the Net Zero Task Force assessed the actions’ potential to contribute to significant emissions reductions and the likelihood they can be implemented. Secondly, some actions were highlighted as being important by the respondents to the public consultation.
For more detail, including who can help to deliver these actions, see the full action table.
1 World Resources Institute (2020) Expert Perspectives: Changing Behaviour to Help Meet Long Term Climate Targets, the necessity of behaviour change to meet climate targets. Available at: https://www.wri.org/climate/expert-perspective/changing-behavior-help-meet-long-term-climate-targets
2 Committee on Climate Change (2019) Net Zero Technical Report. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-technical-report/
3 Landberg, R. et. al. (2019) Green Finance Is Now $31 Trillion and Growing, Bloomberg. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-green-finance/
4 Stark, C. et. al. (2019) Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming. UK Committee on Climate Change. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/
5 Heart of the South West (2019) Local Industrial Strategy Progress Statement 2. Available at: https://heartofswlep.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/190807-Heart-of-the-SW-LIS-Progress-Statement-2.pdf
6 SETsquared (Unknown) Home Page. Available at: https://setsquared.exeter.ac.uk/
7 Sergeant, D. (2022). The Near Future in 21st Century Fiction: Climate, Retreat and Revolution (Cambridge Studies in Twenty-First Century Literature and Culture). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
8 Hopkins, R. (2022) The Book ‘From What is to What If’: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want’. Available at: https://www.robhopkins.net/the-book/
9 CAG Devon (2022) CAG Devon Community Action Groups – Home. Available at: https://cagdevon.org.uk/?instance_id=674
10 Devon Climate Emergency (2022) Net Zero Visions. Available at: https://devonclimateemergency.org.uk/net-zero-visions/
11 Town and Country Planning Association March (2021) 20-Minute Neighbourhoods – Creating Healthier, Active, Prosperous Communities An Introduction for Council Planners in England. Available at: https://tcpa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/final_20mnguide-compressed.pdf
12 Statista (2022) Earth Overshoot Day – The World is Not Enough. Available at: https://www.statista.com/chart/10569/number-of-earths-needed-if-the-worlds-population-lived-like-following-countries/
13 One Planet Council (2019) One Planet Development. Available at: http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/One-Planet-Council-leaflet.pdf
14 Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (2019) National Planning Policy Framework. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/810197/NPPF_Feb_2019_revised.pdf
15 Devon County Council (2020) Devon’s landscape character assessment (DLCA). Available at: https://www.devon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policies/landscape/devons-landscape-character-assessment