DCERG Minutes 17th March

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Minutes 17th March. Download a PDF of the minutes here.

Attendees:

Doug Eltham                           Devon County Council (Chaired this session)

Emily Reed                             Devon County Council

Ellie Rowlands                        Devon County Council

Tracey Polak                           Public Health Devon

Lesley Newport                       Environment Agency

James Cooper                        Environment Agency

Clare Reid                               Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities

Dan Ulanowsky                       Pennon Group

Emma Kiff                               University of Exeter

Janet Williams                        Torridge District Council

Andrew Butler                         National Farmers’ Union

Apologies:

Phil Norrey                              Devon County Council (Chair)

Emily Bullock                          South Western Ambulance Service Trust

Harry Barton                           Devon Wildlife Trust

James Szymankiewicz           Natural Devon

Peter Chamberlain                  Devon County Council

Virginia Pearson                     Public Health Devon

Helen Dobby                           Environment Agency

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were AGREED as a true record of the discussion.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Management Update

Ellie Rowlands and Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

ACTION: All partners to continue to share news stories and case studies with Ellie Rowlands for sharing via the Devon Climate Emergency social media channels.

2.2 Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 these minutes.

The Group discussed the recommended delay to the citizens’ assembly due to coronavirus and AGREED to abort the current procurement of a recruitment and facilitation provider and await government advice on the lifting of the advice against mass gatherings. This means that the earliest the assembly can be held will be autumn or winter 2020/21.

The Group further AGREED that an initial version of the Devon Carbon Plan should be produced on the original timetable that will contain ‘low regret’ actions. A second version of the plan will subsequently be prepared that will be informed by the deliberations of the citizens’ assembly on hard choices – the timing of this is currently unknown but will perhaps be spring 2021.

Clare Reid and Leslie Newport offered assistance to the Task Force in identifying the low-regret measures on the Food, Land and Sea theme that could be incorporated into version 1 of the Devon Carbon Plan.

ACTION: Emily Reed to advise the Task Force members leading the Food, Land and Sea theme that this assistance has been offered.

2.3 Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.

3. Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration

Doug Eltham presented the paper at Annexe 2 of these minutes.  

The Group AGREED that:

  1. There is no need to commission legal advice at the moment because we have real-life planning decisions being made locally on the basis of the national climate emergency. We can watch these progress through any appeals processes, which is more useful than a legal opinion.  We need to ensure development management committee members are aware of the bold decisions being taken elsewhere.
  • Planning committee members do need to understand the unintended consequences of immediately stopping carbon-emitting development. The Exeter Low Carbon Task Force should convene a workshop with expertise invited from planning, transport, housing, energy and health with the purpose of brainstorming what those unintended consequences could be. Then tidy-up the conversation into a think-piece directed at infrastructure and planning decision makers.

Relevant to this discussion is that the Great South West, a partnership of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, has been speaking with government about the region becoming the first net-zero carbon region and has written an open letter about the proposal to the Chancellor. 

ACTION: Doug Eltham to implement actions a and b above.

4. Endorsement for Transition Streets Project 

The Group endorsed the principal of helping the Transition Streets funding application with a letter of support.

ACTION: Emily Reed to arrange for a letter from the chair of the Group, Phil Norrey, to be submitted Transition Totnes.

5. Local Updates  

Partner organisations provided brief updates of activity contributing to the implementation of the Devon Climate Declaration, which included:

Dartmoor National Park Authority’s carbon reduction plan for its own operation has been signed-off.

Exmoor National Park Authority’s carbon reduction plan is in development.

Environment Agency has drafted a carbon reduction plan for its activity in Devon and Cornwall. The Group discussed synergies between the Environment Agency, Devon County Council and Pennon Group about the need to reduce carbon emissions from civil engineering activity and the Group AGREED it would be useful to discuss further.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to facilitate conversation between partners on civil engineering decarbonisation.

The University of Exeter is progressing plans to deploy solar PV on its campuses.

The National Farmers Union has produced a Farm Status Indicator which helps members organisations understand what net-zero looks like in an agricultural business.

ACTION: Ellie Rowlands to incorporate the NFU tool into the advice for businesses on the Devon Climate Emergency website.  

6. Next Meeting

Next meeting is the 21st April 12:00 – 13:00.