This report marks a major milestone for the Devon Climate Emergency project. The findings presented here reflect the actions Devon’s citizens would like to see taken in order to tackle the climate emergency.

The report was created by an independent facilitator, and the Devon Climate Assembly is an external advisory body to the Devon Climate Emergency partnership. We hope you enjoy reading the Climate Assembly’s resolutions, as we look forward to transforming them into deliverable actions.

AUTHOR: Kaela Scott, Director of Innovation and Practice, Involve

Dominic Ward, Senior Project Officer, Involve

DATE: September 2021

Devon Climate Assembly brought together 70 residents from across Devon, selected to be broadly representative of the population of the county in terms of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, geography, socio-economic status and level of concern about climate change, to deliberate on some of the key challenges in how Devon should respond to the climate emergency. Three topics were identified in the public consultation on the Interim Devon Carbon Plan which were put to the Assembly for consideration:

  1. What should be the role of onshore wind in the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy?
  2. What should be done to encourage less car use within Devon?
  3. What would be the best ways of encouraging, or requiring, people to retrofit their homes, properties or business premises to reduce carbon emissions?

The Assembly met for eleven 2 – 2.5 hour sessions during June and July 2021 and, due to the ongoing social distancing requirements of the covid-19 pandemic, these meetings were held online. The meetings involved members in 25 hours of learning, dialogue and deliberation about the context of the climate emergency and the specific topics they were being asked to address. The meetings were convened and facilitated by Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity, who were appointed to deliver and report on the Assembly after an open tender process. In this report we present Devon Climate Emergency Partnership with the conclusions reached by the Assembly members to help inform the Devon Carbon Plan, designed to set out Devon’s path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Following an overview week that set the context of the Assembly and the climate emergency the members were divided into three groups. These members then heard more detailed evidence on each topic, discussed their own views and experiences, and developed provisional conclusions. In producing the results of the Assembly, the whole membership came back together to consider their level of support for a range of Resolutions that were developed to capture their response to the overall questions put to the Assembly. They also worked together to either identify conditions upon which their support for these Resolutions would increase, or develop Supporting Recommendations that they believed would strengthen the implementation of the Resolution. The text of these conditions and supporting recommendations was collectively drafted by groups of members, and is presented below in their words.

For this topic, the focus was essentially on what role, if any, should onshore wind turbines play in the mix of energy generation methods deployed across Devon in order to meet the increased demand for electricity expected as we transition away from the use of fossil fuels. The members were also explicitly asked to consider the subsidiary question: Are there any conditions or guarantees that need to be in place to enhance public acceptability?

Onshore Wind Resolution 1

In principle, we support the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon.

  • Supported by 89% of members.

Our support for the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon would increase with the condition…

Onshore Wind Condition 1.1 That there is good, clear, high quality information & education for communities (from an objective, trusted and credible source) about the need for action and the crisis nature of climate and energy needs.

a) including putting forward an emergency local plan identifying potential sites and the potential benefits; and

b) providing practical support for affected communities to understand the potential benefits, processes and challenges.

Agreed by 87% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 1.2 That all reasonable measures are undertaken to minimise potential negative impacts on communities (for example the risk of impacts on house prices due to the proximity to a turbine) and wildlife in the design and positioning of a windfarm, and there are opportunities built in for people to raise and seek redress for negative effects, should they occur, throughout the lifetime of its operation.

Agreed by 87% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 1.3 That the developments bring lasting local financial, economic, social and environmental benefits, with community ownership and Community Interest Companies held accountable for the distribution of funds.

Agreed by 86% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 1.4 That everyone across Devon understands where wind farms can be sited and can easily access information on potential impacts on range of conditions (including mental health, wildlife, economy) and the range of potential benefits (e.g. lower cost electricity, reduced carbon emissions and impacts on climate change).

Agreed by 84% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 1.5 That the majority are in community ownership, with a democratic process in place to inform the early stages of planning and development (including funding support at this stage).

Agreed by 84% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 1.6 That energy is not considered in isolation, but alongside consideration of the space available for other land use development (housing, roads, agriculture, business, industry, schools, sewers) within local planning process and strategic planning.

Agreed by 80% of members

Onshore Wind Resolution 2

In principle, we support reforming the National Planning Framework to remove the requirement for ‘complete’ community support from development planning applications for onshore wind turbines.

  • Supported by 87% of members

Our support for reforming the National Planning Framework to remove the requirement for ‘complete’ community support would increase with the condition…

Onshore Wind Condition 2.1 That communities where sites are identified benefit from them, and that they get really good support to engage and understand the issues.

Agreed by 84% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 2.2 Onshore wind farms are developed where the energy produced is most needed (e.g. near industrial areas where it can be easily connected to the grid) and that the location of developments is considered in a way that is integrated with other wider considerations for Devon, such as the need for a mix of energy production, land use and respect for areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Agreed by 84% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 2.3 That planning structures are streamlined and operate in favour of community ownership, where profits are reinvested by and for the community.

Agreed by 80% of members

Onshore Wind Condition 2.4 That the development planning process is sped up and ensures dialogue with communities is a continuing part of this.

Agreed by 78% of members

A further breakdown of the voting results, and the supporting statements prepared by members for each condition, can be found in the main body of this report.

For this topic, the discussions started from a position that there was a need to reduce the overall use of private vehicles in Devon to have a significant impact on emissions from travel, and that one way of encouraging this was by making car use less attractive. This was encapsulated in the subsidiary question the members were asked to consider: How can reducing road capacity and financial ‘carrots and sticks’ help to make car use less attractive and reduce traffic levels / emissions while maintaining mobility?

Roads and Mobility Resolution 1

In principle, we support the ambition in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan to reduce traffic emissions across Devon by making car use less attractive, while maintaining mobility.

  • Supported by 74% of members

Our support for ambitions to reduce emissions by making car use less attractive would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 1.1 That there is widespread investment in ensuring that there is a better public and active transport infrastructure across Devon that can be used as a reliable, regular, affordable and integrated alternative, and that significant progress is made on this before the wider implementation of proposals to discourage car use.

Agreed by 89% of members

Roads and Mobility Condition 1.2 That there is an independent authority put in place to oversee and ensure accountability in the collection of resources generated by any charging schemes to ensure they are allocated towards public and active travel improvements (and other road emission reduction schemes) and that their findings are regularly reported.

Agreed by 74% of members

Roads and Mobility Resolution 2

We recognise that there will likely always be a need for private car use in Devon, particularly in rural areas of the county, and support the initiatives included in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan to help minimise the emissions these cause by investing in the infrastructure to support the increased use of electric vehicles.

  • Supported by 92% of members

Roads and Mobility Resolution 3

In principle, we support taking measures to reduce the road space available to cars and reallocate it to active and public travel modes in Devon.

  • Supported by 74% of members

Our support for taking measures to discourage car use by reallocating road space to active and public modes would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.1 That priority is given to making sure that you can still travel cheaply around Devon, in a similar time to now, via active travel/public transport.

Agreed by 88% of members

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.2 That there is the provision of more modern and effective park and ride facilities.

Agreed by 83% of members

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.3 That proper cycling infrastructure is created across the county.

Agreed by 80% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.4 That there is differentiation in public transport fares depending on user categories (e.g. discounted fares for residents and/or means tested travel passes).

Agreed by 68% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.5 That Devon investigates introducing a Tourist Levy: where the tax on tourists visiting is allocated to the local community to fund initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.

Agreed by 68% of members.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 4

We recognise that there is the need to introduce some ‘financial sticks’, like parking charges, congestion charges and parking levies, in order to help fund the provision of wider improvements, ‘the carrots’, that will help reduce emissions while maintaining mobility across Devon.

  • Not supported by the majority of members (only 50% support achieved) [1]

Options for implementation

The final Resolutions regarding roads and mobility, Resolutions 5-7, are framed as responses to the three specific types of action that were proposed to the Assembly members as ways that were within the powers of local authorities to introduce the ‘financial sticks’ needed to generate funds for the wider improvements (‘the carrots’) that members expected to see across Devon in order to increase the acceptability of actively discouraging car use.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 5

In principle, we support taking measures to reduce space available for parking and introduce parking charges in areas across Devon.

  • Not supported by the majority of members (only 46% support achieved).

Our support for reducing the availability of parking and introducing charges would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 5.1 That parking charges are ringfenced and reinvested in the public transport network to reduce the public’s resistance to paying parking fees.

Agreed by 75% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 5.2 That there are differentiated parking charges based on:

a) type of vehicles (electric / polluting); and

b) users’ needs (e.g. essential work use, people with limited mobility)

Agreed by 66% of members.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 6

In principle, we support the introduction of workplace parking levies in areas across Devon.

  • Not supported by the majority of members (only 45% support achieved).

Our support for workplace parking levies would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.1 That money gained from workplace parking levies is spent on supporting public transport routes, or viable alternatives for employees, including employers providing shuttle busses for workers or paying for bike hubs and shower facilities at workplaces.

Agreed by 75% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.2 That it only applies to businesses with a certain level of turnover and/or a certain number of staff (level to be determined based on learning from successful models elsewhere).

Agreed by 71% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.3 That it is the employer who pays and the cost cannot be passed onto the employee.

Agreed by 68% of members.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 7

In principle, we support introducing congestion charges and low emission zones in areas across Devon.

  • Supported by 62% of members.

Our support for congestion charges and low emission zones would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 7.1 That they won’t be introduced as a ‘one size fits all’ approach for all areas of the county and groups of people.

Agreed by 84% of members.

Roads and Mobility Condition 7.2 That there is careful consideration, and review, of the economic impact on the area

Agreed by 76% of members.

A further breakdown of the voting results, and the supporting statements prepared by members for each condition, can be found in the main body of this report.

[1] While members had expressed relatively high levels of support for the overall aim of discouraging car use while maintaining mobility, they remained quite split when considering how this should be paid for (with almost ¼ of members expressing that they were unsure about this resolution).

There were two key aspects of this topic that members were asked to focus on:

a) The information, advice, support and incentives that the public would need to motivate, and enable, them to undertake retrofitting work on their properties; and

b) The acceptability of using local council powers to require retrofitting activities to reduce emissions from buildings.

Retrofitting Resolution 1

We believe that the existing financial supports available across Devon are not effective for encouraging people to undertake the degree of retrofitting work in their properties that will be required to meet net zero targets.

  • Supported by 94% of members.

Retrofitting Resolution 2

In principle, we support there being financial support available for people to retrofit properties across Devon.

  • Supported by 93% of members.

We believe the implementation of packages to support people to retrofit their properties would be strengthened by the following…

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.1 There needs to be more accountability and reporting regarding government expenditure on retrofitting, with ongoing progress reports that show the money spent and progress towards meeting targets.

Agreed by 94% of members.

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.2 There needs to be widespread education and awareness raising about:

a) the climate emergency;

b) what actions authorities are taking; and

c) what people can do to retrofit and improve energy efficiency and what impact that will have.

Agreed by 93% of members.

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.3 There needs to be a centralised, Devon based, source of high-quality information regarding measures that can be taken on properties and the types of support available to people to undertake them.

Agreed by 93% of members.

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.4 There needs to be personalised advice available about options for your home and any financial support you are eligible for.

Agreed by 93% of members.

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.5 All authorities need to demonstrate ambition and allocate significant budget to retrofitting.

Agreed by 92% of members.

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.6 More focus needs to be given to ensuring the availability of green mortgages.

Agreed by 72% of members.

Retrofitting Resolution 3

In principle, we support the use of regulation to require people to retrofit their home.

  • Supported by 62% of members.

Our support for regulation to require people to undertake retrofitting would increase with the condition…

Retrofitting Condition 3.1 That there is recognition that buildings are not all the same. The requirement, and any support to do it, needs to be targeted so the poorest rated buildings are done first.

Agreed by 89% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 3.2 That affordability is taken into account.

Agreed by 88% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 3.3 That VAT is removed from specialist items used for retrofitting.

Agreed by 82% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 3.4. That DIY is encouraged, with experts then able to undertake an assessment of impacts and approve reduced tax rates.

Agreed by 66% of members.

Retrofitting Resolution 4

In principle, we support introducing policies in Devon that use planning permission to trigger the need for retrofitting measures.

  • Supported by 84% of members.

Our support for using planning permission as a trigger for requiring retrofitting would increase with the condition…

Retrofitting Condition 4.1 That conservatories and permitted buildings should be included.

Agreed by 76% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 4.2 That the extent of retrofitting required by the planning permission would be in proportion to the size of the house and extension.

Agreed by 75% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 4.3 That the energy consumption of the whole property needs to be reduced, in proportion to the size of the extension / alteration.

Agreed by 73% of members.

Retrofitting Resolution 5

In principle, we support introducing policies in Devon that link Council tax and business rates to energy efficiency performance.

  • Supported by 71% of members.

Our support for linking a property’s energy efficiency to the level of council tax and business rates paid would increase with the condition…

Retrofitting Condition 5.1 That there is also a requirement on private landlords and social housing providers to bring properties up to a minimum level of energy efficiency.

Agreed by 85% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 5.2 That there is a simple and consistent way for the effect of energy efficiency improvements to be verified by the Council before discounts are applied.

Agreed by 75% of members.

Retrofitting Condition 5.3 That Councils promote widely the opportunity to benefit from reductions in Council tax and business rates by increasing the energy efficiency of your property.

Agreed by 72% of members.

A further breakdown of the voting results, and the supporting statements prepared by members for each condition, can be found in the main body of this report.

In addition to the resolutions, conditions and supporting recommendations, in the final meeting of the Assembly members had an opportunity to ‘step back’ from the specific questions they had been tasked with addressing and consider, in light of all they had heard and all they knew, what final overarching messages they wanted to send to the Devon Climate Emergency Partnership. The key themes that members focussed on were the need for:

  • Wider communication and information about the climate emergency
  • Greater community involvement and engagement
  • Urgent action
  • Ambition locally
  • Strong leadership
  • Accountability to the public
  • Central government to play an enabling role.

These themes are explained in more detail in members’ own words in Chapter 8 of this report.

The Devon Climate Assembly was commissioned to build on the work already undertaken by the Devon Climate Emergency Partnership in the preparation of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan. Intended to help address outstanding challenges and gaps that had been prioritised in consultations on the Interim Devon Carbon Plan, the Assembly was tasked with responding to three key questions:

  1. What should be the role of onshore wind in the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy?
  2. What should be done to encourage less car use within Devon?
  3. What would be the best ways of encouraging, or requiring, people to retrofit their homes, properties or business premises to reduce carbon emissions?

Following an open tendering process Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity with extensive experience of delivering Citizens’ Assemblies and Climate Assemblies at a local, regional and national level, were appointed to design, facilitate and report on the findings of the Devon Climate Assembly. The recruitment of the 70 members of the Assembly, selected through a process of stratified random selection to be broadly representative of the population of Devon, was sub-contracted by Involve to the Sortition Foundation.

11 meetings of the Devon Climate Assembly were held during June and July 2021 and, due to the social distancing requirements created by the covid-19 pandemic, these meetings took place online. The meetings involved members in 25 hours of learning, dialogue and deliberation about the context of the climate emergency and the specific topics they were being asked to address.

In this report we present Devon Climate Emergency Partnership with the conclusions reached by the Assembly members to help inform the Devon Carbon Plan, designed to set out Devon’s path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order to represent the work of the Assembly as faithfully as possible the majority of the findings are presented in the members’ own words, reproducing the Conditions, Recommendations and Supporting Statements drafted and agreed by them with minimal interpretation or analysis.

To support these findings, this report also presents details of the wider framing and operation of the Assembly, including its oversight structures, how members were recruited, the design and content of assembly meetings, and how assembly members evaluated the experience of taking part.

The members of the Devon Climate Assembly were recruited, using a civic lottery process, to be broadly representative of the demographic characteristics of the population of Devon and to reflect the range of views held across the country about climate change.

  • There were 70 members of the public selected to be part of the Devon Climate Assembly
  • 66 members completed the Assembly process.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge these members and thank them for their hard work and commitment throughout the process.

Membership of the Devon Climate Assembly was determined through a process of stratified random selection to (as closely as possible within a group of this size) match the demographic characteristics of Devon. [2]

Recruitment of participants was undertaken by the Sortition Foundation – a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to promoting fair, transparent, inclusive and effective deliberative processes by ensuring accurate representative and random sampling during recruitment. The method they used is based on the idea that, in principle, every resident in the area should have an equal probability of receiving an invitation to take part.

In late May 2021 14,000 invitations to participate were sent to households across Devon, randomly selected from the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF) – the most complete and up-to-date address database in the UK. The invitations were issued in a specially designed, attractive and informative envelope (with Devon Climate Emergency Partnership branding) to draw attention to the contents, and included a FAQ sheet, and an individual registration code to use to express their interest in joining the Assembly.

Experience has shown that this method of recruitment does typically tend to attract more expressions of interest from people from professional backgrounds and with higher levels of education. To help address this skewing the Index of Multiple Deprivation [3] was used to identify postcode areas with higher levels of deprivation and proportionately more addresses were selected in these areas. This meant in practice that 80% of the addresses selected were from the entire Postcode Address File (including areas of deprivation) and the remaining 20% from postcodes with an Index of Multiple Deprivation decile rating of 1-3 (the most deprived areas). By delivering proportionally more invitations to the most deprived areas the aim was to reduce the effects of this potential skewing of responses. A small number of invitations were also sent to care homes and residential centres to enable anyone in these facilities to choose to apply to participate.

The invitation highlighted that support would be available to meet any accessibility requirements, including help to get online sessions and to develop the skills needed to participate in an online forum. The invitation letter also included the offer of a £400 cash thank you gift for participation. This was designed to give those who might not be already interested in the issue, or traditionally less likely to volunteer for this type of initiative, a motivation to apply, increasing the likely diversity of views brought to the discussions. While we recognise that not all mini-publics provide a financial honorarium to participants, we consider it good practice to do so. As well as demonstrating that their participation and engagement is valued, the honorarium helps to ensure a diverse range of participants (e.g. including those on low or erratic incomes, unemployed or with caring responsibilities) and can offset the ‘opportunity costs’ of participation.

Anyone aged 16 or over who was living (or staying) at an address that received an invitation could register their interest in becoming part of the Assembly. Potential participants were given two easy ways to register their interest: online or over the phone. As part of the registration process demographic and attitudinal data was gathered to enable stratification and relevant exclusions (e.g. people holding elected office or directly employed by a political party). 297 members of the public applied to be part of the Assembly, confirming they were available for all of the dates and times required. This was a proportionally lower response rate than is typically achieved by this method (being just over 2%), although scheduling it over the summer period as lockdown restrictions were being anticipated to ease may have had a bearing on this.

From the pool of interested respondents a second, stratified random selection was performed, matching the latest available data on six dimensions: age, gender, disability, ethnicity, geography, relative deprivation (based on postcodes), and level of concern about climate change. Once the selection of members was completed further information was sent out to the selected group and responsibility for supporting their participation was handed over to Involve.

Profile of Members

 Baseline targets  (% of population)[4] Recruited Membership Completing the Assembly 
Gender 
Female 49% 48% 52% 
Male 51% 52% 48% 
Age 
16 – 20 7% 7% 8% 
21 – 29 13% 15% 15% 
30 – 44 19% 16% 14% 
45 – 64 32% 31% 32% 
65+ 29% 31% 32% 
Ethnicity 
Ethnically Diverse Communities 4% 7% 8% 
White British / white other 96% 93% 92% 
Geography 
Torbay 11% 12% 9% 
Plymouth 22% 20% 20% 
East Devon 12% 10% 11% 
Exeter 11% 15% 14% 
Mid Devon 7% 6% 6% 
North Devon 8% 7% 8% 
South Hams 7% 7% 6% 
Teignbridge 11% 12% 12% 
Torridge 6% 4% 6% 
West Devon 5% 7% 8% 
 Baseline targets  (% of population) Recruited Membership Completing the Assembly 
Level of concern about climate change[5] 
Not at all concerned/other/don’t know 6% 8% 8% 
Not very concerned 9% 6% 6% 
Very concerned 52% 55% 58% 
Living with a disability 
No 80% 79% 77% 
Yes 20% 21% 23% 
Index of multiple deprivation[6] 
Decile 1-2 11% 10% 11% 
Decile 3-4 23% 24% 24% 
Decile 5-6 32% 32% 32% 
Decile 7-8 20% 25% 24% 
Decile 9-10 14% 9% 9% 

Supporting participation

Each participant underwent an onboarding process by which they had individual assessment of their needs and any access requirements, including childcare, interpretation, or other support such as suitable computer or internet connection to be able to take part online.

In order to ensure that all recruited members of the Assembly were able, and likely, to participate in the meetings Involve undertook a process of ‘on-boarding’. This included initial email contact to introduce the team, ensure members had the practical and process information they needed to feel prepared and ask about any additional support they might need to be able to participate, for example help with childcare or other caring responsibilities, interpretation, materials in large print or alternative formats. This short survey was also used to assess members’ digital competencies, access to the internet and access to a computer, laptop or suitable tablet to use throughout the meetings. Following up on this, members who did not have access to suitable equipment and/or low levels of digital literacy were given further individual support to ensure they could participate. This support included:

  • providing members with Chromebooks, webcams and/or headsets if they did not have suitable devices;
  • providing data access to participants who might not have effective internet infrastructure at their home, but are in an area that has 4G connectivity, using prepaid USB Modems, Pocket Wi-Fi devices or data bundles to enable them to hotspot from a mobile phone [7];
  • 1-2-1 phone calls to support members to learn basic skills to enable them to participate, such as the basics of using Zoom and the core digital tools that would be used during the process (Google Forms, Mentimeter and Jamboards).

Before the first assembly meeting, everyone had a chance for a warm up call to get used to using Zoom and there was a small team of dedicated assembly member support staff available between and during assembly meetings to assist members as required. There was also an online shared resource area available to assembly members where they could access resources relating to the assembly including slides presented by speakers, videos of the presentations, useful zoom tips, wider information about climate change and answers to specific requests for information on particular areas not available during assembly sessions.

[2] Using census data to establish baseline targets
[3] The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) is the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas (or neighbourhoods) in England. The IMD looks at the extent to which an area is deprived across seven domains: income, employment, education, health, access to services, crime and housing and ranks areas across the country.
[4] Percentages are used throughout this report for illustrative and comparative purposes only. In a group of this small size percentages carry little statistical significance and it is worth remembering that a single person accounts for a variation of between 1 –2%.
[5] Ipsos MORI, 2019. Concern about climate change reaches record levels with half now ‘very concerned’. https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/concern-about-climate-change-reaches-record-levels-half-now-very-concerned
[6] In the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) Decile 1 represents the most deprived 10% of output areas in England, while decile 10 indicates the least deprived 10%.
[7] Of the 70 Devon residents who were initially recruited to take part in the Assembly, 3 were not able to do so as they were not able to access a strong enough internet connection due to the location of their homes. They did not have Wi-Fi access at home and the dongles which were shared with them could not get a strong enough signal.

The Devon Climate Assembly was commissioned by the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group to involve a representative group of the public in advising this group on the public acceptability of approaches to a range of outstanding challenges in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.

Devon Climate Emergency is a partnership of public, private and voluntary organisations who came together on 22nd May 2019 to declare a climate and ecological emergency in Devon and endorse the principles of the Devon Climate Declaration [8]. It is made up of a number of working groups such as the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG) which comprises senior officers from 29 local organisations, including councils, emergency services, businesses and voluntary organisations across Devon, this group was established to provide the strategic coordination for a collaborative response to the declaration of a Devon Climate Emergency.

Alongside DCERG the Net Zero Task Force was convened to bring together people with expertise in topics relevant to carbon reduction to support the development of an action plan. The Task Force members [9] have expertise in topics relevant to carbon reduction and are drawn from economic, environmental, health and academic organisations, and is chaired by a leading climate science expert. The Task Force has used its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Interim Devon Carbon Plan, including consideration of the earliest credible date that should be set for net-zero emissions.

After public consultation on this Interim Plan a range of topics were identified as particularly controversial or challenging for implementation, and were agreed to be the focus of the Devon Climate Assembly. Following an open tendering process Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity, was appointed to design, facilitate and report on the findings of the Devon Climate Assembly.

At this point the Devon Climate Assembly Project Team was set up to bring together some members of the Task Force and the wider Partnership with Involve to deliver on the Assembly. This became the working group responsible for the delivery of the Assembly, with an overall steer from the Task Force, and worked to co-design the Assembly, including agreeing the key questions which the Assembly would be tasked with and what evidence needed to be presented in order to enable the Assembly to answer these questions.

[8] https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/devon-climate-declaration/
[9] https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/governance/net-zero-task-force/#members

The key challenges that were identified for consideration by the Devon Climate Assembly were highly suitable for deliberative work, as their contentious nature means they are ones that would benefit from participants being given time, access to balanced and in-depth information about the issues, and the opportunity to discuss their opinions with others before drawing conclusions.

It is the case therefore that the outcomes from these deliberations are unlikely to mirror wider public opinion. The value derived from this approach is instead based on the rationale that the structured diversity of the recruited membership means that their conclusions can serve as a proxy for wider public opinion, if the wider public had had the opportunity to go through a similar process of learning, dialogue and deliberation.

Principles of the design process

The principles that underpinned the design for the Assembly were founded on the belief that deliberative methods offer a distinctive approach to public engagement, which differs from other forms of consultation, because they are fundamentally about giving participants time to learn about and discuss issues in depth before coming to a considered view. As such they can:

  1. give decision-makers a detailed understanding of informed public opinion on complex issues and/or value-laden and controversial questions; and
  2. open up the space for revealing consensus, wherein trade-offs have to be made, and offer solutions that respect the constraints of the policy and practical environments they are located within.

The defining characteristic of a deliberative engagement process is that, in bringing together a group of people to deliberate on a significant community or policy issue, it will, by definition, involve three phases:

  • A dedicated learning phase: A central feature of a deliberative approach is the learning component, wherein participants are able to develop an understanding of the issue based on unbiased information and/or the clear presentation of arguments from different perspectives. Throughout this phase information can be presented in a variety of ways including presentations from experts and advocates, written information, case studies/ examples and through facilitated discussions.
  • Discussion focused on developing dialogue: To enable this, participants in a deliberative process, tend to spend most of the time in small groups, supported by skilled facilitators to engage in discussion about the topic. This allows time for people to develop and test opinions on issues that are new to them (and on which they do not have a pre-existing opinion), explore their pre-existing opinions in light of what they have heard and encourages a wider understanding of the opinions of others. Dialogue is a specific discursive form that asks participants to become part of a collaborative process of shared inquiry, exchange, listening and reflecting and requires skilful facilitation to support members to move beyond the presentation of surface level views. Where possible subject matter experts should also be available to be called on by the members to answer questions and provide clarification, but it is important that the members are able to drive the conversation as a process of collective ‘meaning making’.
  • The deliberation phase: This stage of a deliberative engagement process involves participants coming to some conclusions based on what they have learnt through a process of public reasoning, which involves participants weighing options and making choices together. While consensus based decision-making processes are the ideal, at this stage voting systems will often be used, as was the case in these meetings, to ensure clear outputs are attained at each stage.


The Assembly met for three blocks of online meetings in June and July 2021. In total this involved 9 meeting days, and a total of 25 hours together, typically made up of 2 hours on a Wednesday evening, 4.5 hours on a Saturday (with a 90-minute lunch break) and 2.5 hours on a Sunday. This structure was designed to allow members sufficient time to learn about, discuss and deliberate on the topics covered, whilst also not placing an undue burden on them of lengthy sessions on Zoom, which can prove quite demanding and tiring, particularly for people who are not already familiar with using video conferencing platforms.

The process of learning, dialogue and deliberation set for the Assembly was designed by Involve, with input from the Devon Climate Assembly Project Team. Each meeting was led by a lead facilitator from Involve. During the meetings members spent much of their time in small discussion groups, of seven to eight assembly members, which were supported by independent facilitators experienced in delivering deliberative processes.

Central to the success of keeping members engaged in a long deliberative process like this was the variety of exercises and techniques used throughout the online sessions. In this case considerable care was given to designing a process that would support all participants to use Zoom and a limited number of other platforms, to engage with quite complex information in a way that enabled them to put their opinion forward on their own terms. Therefore, each of the blocks was designed to include a range of ways for members to participate including:

  • facilitated breakout discussions;
  • collaborative question and idea generation sessions using Jamboard;
  • plenary discussions;
  • group ranking/negotiation activities in breakout rooms;
  • time for individual reflection and note taking;
  • opportunities to question the speakers (in breakout rooms and in plenary);
  • live interactive polling to instantly gauge the sentiment within the room on key discussion points;
  • collaborative drafting using Jamboards;
  • online worksheets after each block to enable voting and collect quantitative and qualitative data from each member.

This variety within the process design ensured that all participants were able to contribute in ways that suited them best –verbally during breakout discussions, through written inputs on Jamboard and in post-event worksheets, and through time for reflection between meetings. Detailed facilitation plans were produced for each meeting that identified clear outputs from each activity that could be analysed sequentially and cumulatively, producing the findings that are presented later in this report.

The facilitator’s role in these discussions was also vital for ensuring the members were able to deliberate inclusively and effectively. The facilitators have a unique responsibility to look after and support the needs of their specific group (and the individuals within it) while also being responsible for the timely delivery of the process as a whole. Their impartiality is key, but they also need to ensure that all members have the opportunity to contribute and have their opinions respected and valued within the discussions.

How the speakers were selected

Overall members heard from 45 presenters, selected to build up the evidence base that members would use to inform their deliberations. There were three types of speakers invited to present at the Devon Climate Assembly:

  1. Impartial specialists: people with expertise on the topic who were invited to present the issues in a factual and neutral manner;
  2. Advocates: people who were invited to present a particular point of view or argument relating to the issues under discussion or advocate for a particular outcome;
  3. Experts by experience: people whose lived experience was called on to help to deepen assembly members’ understanding of an issue, or who might be particularly impacted by a particular outcome.

In selecting speakers, the organisers worked primarily with the Project Team, also drawing on the expertise of the Task Force, to ensure a good foundation of information, while also trying to represent a broad range of viewpoints and experiences of the issues. Further details of the speakers can be found below, and in the chapters focused on each topic. Recordings of all presentations can also be found on the Devon Climate Emergency website [10].

[10] Devon Climate Emergency website: https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/evidence/


The Devon Climate Assembly met as a whole Assembly during the first week long block of meetings, split into three streams during week two to take a deep dive into individual topics, and re-convened together for the third block of meetings to agree their overall conclusions. The Figure below shows how the process worked across the three topic streams.

A flow chart describing the structure of the Devon Climate Assembly. Part 1 covers welcoming members and helping them develop an understanding of climate change. Parts 2-4 cover each individual learning and discussion block: onshore wind, transport and retrofitting. The final part covers reviewing and finalizing resolutions and conditions.

Block 1 –Setting the scene

The first block of meetings, 23, 26 and 27 June, set the scene for the assembly, explained how the process would work, why it was happening, and what would be done with its conclusions. It also provided an introduction to the climate science and the three key challenges which the Assembly would focus on.

  • Day 1: During the first meeting members were welcomed to the Assembly and worked together to develop conversation guidelines which they would use throughout the process [11]. They were also given an overview of the Net Zero target which Devon has committed to reach, the task they were going to focus on and an introduction to the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Phil Norrey, Chair of the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group, on the context and remit of the Devon Climate Assembly;
    • Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, on visions for a net zero future and the Assembly’s role;
    • Emily Reed, Climate Emergency Project Manager at Devon County Council, providing an overview of the content and scope of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.
  • Day 2: In the second meeting members spent time considering the critical thinking skills which they would need throughout the process and how they would approach the evidence they heard. They also heard presentations on the climate science and the impacts of climate change globally, with opportunities to question the speakers for clarification.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Richard Betts, Climate Scientist from the Met Office, outlining what is climate change and why carbon emission reductions are necessary;
    • A short video from The Climate Reality Project, “24 Hours of Reality: The Cost of Carbon” focused on the global impacts of climate change due to carbon pollution;
    • Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, talking about the context of international, national and local targets and the need for a co-ordinated approach to emission reductions.
  • During the afternoon members heard a range of pre-recorded lightening talks highlighting the current impacts of climate change on Devon from different perspectives. Members also heard about the local decision-making context in Devon, before exploring the principles which they thought should inform any resolutions which the Assembly made.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Laurence Couldrick from Westcountry Rivers Trust, talking about the impacts of climate change on wildlife across Devon;
    • Lyndis Cole, Net Zero Task Force, discussing existing climate change impacts on the landscape;
    • Sara Gibbs from Public Health Devon, highlighting how climate change is already impacting on people’s health;
    • Tom Butcher from the MET Office Business Team talking about economic and business impacts for Devon;
    • Tom Dauben, from the Environment Agency, presenting evidence on flooding and coastal erosion caused by climate change;
    • Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford, providing examples of how climate change is impacting agriculture in the county;
    • Jacqui Warren, Climate Officer from Torbay Council, explaining the local decision-making context and the relationship between the various Council areas and the Interim Devon Carbon Plan and complimentary local action plans, i.e. where there are opportunities for the Assembly’s findings to have influence.
    • Patrick Devine-Wright, Chair of the Net Zero Task Force, outlining the principles for implementation that underpin the Interim Devon Carbon Plan.
  • Day 3: In the third meeting members heard a ‘lightning talk’ from a youth activist advocating why the work of the Assembly was important for the future of Devon. They were also introduced to each of the three topics identified for the Assembly to focus on – onshore wind, reducing car use while maintaining mobility and retrofitting – and discussed what they thought were the key challenges and opportunities within each topic, in order to ‘task’ the members who would be working further on this with the priorities of the Assembly as a whole.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Jessie Stevens, founder of ‘People Pedal Power’ or #ride2COP26, and active within Fridays for Future, DYPF (Dartmoor Young People For Future) and Extinction Rebellion;
    • Kerry Hayes, Regen and the Net Zero Task Force, providing an overview of how Devon’s energy is currently generated, the increasing demand for electricity and why onshore wind might be a useful option;
    • Nik Bowyer, Director of Transport Planning and Modelling at Aecom the Net Zero Task Force, outlining the scale of vehicle emissions in Devon, why reductions are needed, the challenges of achieving this given the geography of Devon and what some potential approaches could be;
    • Ian Hutchcroft, Energiesprong and the Net Zero Task Force, speaking about the need to reduce emissions from buildings across Devon and some of the challenges involved in that, as well as some of the potential actions which might be available to incentivise or require action.

Block 2 – Exploring the three key themes

The second block of the Devon Climate Assembly meetings, 7, 10 and 11 July, saw members split into three equal groups to each look in detail at one of the topics identified for consideration by the Assembly:

  1. The role of onshore wind in the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy;
  2. The aim of reducing road use while maintaining mobility across Devon;
  3. The best ways of encouraging people to retrofit their homes, and other properties, to reduce carbon emissions.

While each workstream was given quite different specific tasks, in each the members heard from a range of speakers acting as informants and advocates, selected to give them a grounded understanding of the topic they were focussing on, before they were asked to consider how well different approaches might work in Devon and the conditions they would expect to be put in place during implementation.

The structure for each workstream was therefore quite similar [12]:

Day 1 Purpose

  • To introduce the topic and review the priorities already identified by the Assembly;
  • To develop a deeper understanding of the scale of the problem, why change is needed and why this particular aspect of energy production and emissions reductions remains an unresolved challenge for Devon;
  • To understand what the Interim Devon Carbon Plan already contains in relation to wider, complimentary activities.

Day 2 Purpose

  • To prioritise principles for evaluating different options or approaches in Devon that were most relevant to each workstream;
  • To learn about and evaluate different approaches to change, including in some workstreams considering advocacy for very specific options and actions that had been used elsewhere;
  • To understand the opportunities and constraints for implementing change locally –local powers and the decision making context.

Day 3 Purpose

  • To consider what the prioritised principles would mean in practice for the questions put to the workstream;
  • To enable members to propose conditions that would increase the acceptability of policy change or the implementation of new initiatives, including clarifying their reasons why;
  • To provisionally vote on levels of support for different potential measures and conditions to determine the initial conclusions members would present back to the Assembly as a whole in block 3.

Block 3 – bringing it all together

The final weekend, 24 and 25 July, brought all members back together as a whole Assembly to advocate for their emerging conclusions, complete their deliberations on conditions and draft supporting statements to clarify their rationales. Members also had the opportunity to ‘step back’ from the specific questions the Assembly had been asked to consider and think about the wider challenges facing Devon in tackling the climate emergency.

Day 1Purpose:

  • To enable members from each workstream to present back to the wider Assembly their emerging conclusions, including advocating to each other for support of the conditions and supporting recommendations they had developed during block 2.
  • To give members an opportunity to hear an overview of the evidence presented in each workstream to better understand their emerging conclusions.
  • To involve members in discussions across workstreams to review and further develop the proposed resolutions and conditions.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Patrick Devine Wright, Chair of the Net Zero Task Force, for onshore wind;
    • Nik Bowyer, Director of Transport Planning and Modelling at Aecom the Net Zero Task Force, for roads and mobility;
    • Alastair Mumford, Corporate Energy Manager at Devon County Council, for retrofitting

Day 2Purpose

  • To step back and consider what members believe will be the biggest challenges going forward if Devon is serious about tackling climate change and reducing emissions;
  • To finalise the wording of the Conditions and Supporting Recommendations proposed by members across all three work streams and co-draft supporting statements for the report.
  • To collectively prepare a series of ‘final messages’ to the Devon Climate Emergency Partnership on behalf of the Assembly.

How the voting process worked

After the final meeting of the Devon Climate Assembly the proposed Resolutions, and their associated Conditions, Supporting Recommendations and Supporting Statements written by members were collated into an online voting form. This was sent directly to all members, and each member had 3 days to register their vote on all Resolutions, Conditions and Supporting Statements across the three workstreams.

The 66 members who had completed the block 3 deliberations all participated in the vote – indicating their level of support for each Resolution (Strongly support, Support, Unsure, Do not support, Strongly oppose) and level of agreement with each proposed Condition and Supporting Recommendation (Strongly agree, Agree, Unsure, Do not agree, Strongly disagree). The full text for each Supporting Statement was included in the voting form to aid member’s memory of the reasons they had discussed.

The findings in full are presented in the next sections of this report.

[11] Included in Appendix A.
[12] A detailed breakdown of the evidence journey undertaken by members in each workstream can be found in chapters 5, 6 and 7, alongside their conclusions.

During Block 1 members developed a list of 20 key principles which they felt:

  • were important for how Devon should respond to the climate emergency overall;
  • would endorse or compliment the principles contained in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan; and
  • should be kept in mind when considering options, evaluating alternatives and developing conclusions as an Assembly.

These were revisited at several points throughout the Assembly meetings to help the group structure their thinking.

Key principles

The principles below are presented in the order that they were prioritised by members overall.

a) Creating solutions for the long term

In considering the best ways for Devon to change to address the climate emergency Members were keen to avoid short term thinking, instead wanting to focus on solutions that would be reliable and sustainable for the long term.

b) That change is not optional, it is essential

Members were particularly struck by principle 1 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan – which states that ‘Achieving Net-zero is not optional, it is essential.’ – and basically adopted it as their own, with an emphasis on the fact that this would require change by individuals, communities, businesses and public authorities.

c) Will deliver the greatest impact

In discussion of this principle the members were particularly keen to ensure that the limited resources that may be available to deliver on actions to tackle climate change were not wasted on initiatives that may not be capable of delivering significant carbon reductions –“We need to make sure money is spent effectively on the most impactful things”.

d) Be right for Devon

Members also recognised in their discussions that Devon was a unique place,and that what might work in other parts of the country might not be right for Devon. This links to the goal expressed in principle 3 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan that ‘The Plan needs to reflect the specific qualities and characteristics of Devon in planning for Net-zero.’

e) Be locally achievable

Mindful of the audience for their report, there was an emphasis given by members to the need for actions that would be able to be delivered in Devon, focused on local needs and the county’s ability to respond.

f) Economic / financial fairness

In developing this principle members discussed the importance that actions should be considerate of the needs of people in different financial circumstances. There was a general agreement that the changes required of people should be accessible for people and families on lower incomes, and not disadvantage them.

g) Involving people

Here members focused on the need to bring the wider population along on the journey to tackle climate change, and involve them in making decisions about what needs to happen. It links clearly to the intention expressed in principle 8 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan: ‘The implementation of the plan must be democratic and involve communities, so not ‘done to’ people.’

h) Support behaviour change

Implementation principle 10 of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan states that ‘Significant behaviour change must be recognised as a necessity.’ Members built on this, in their discussion on principles, to incorporate the need to consider as part of their conclusions how the necessary behaviour changes required from people could also be supported to happen.

i) Be good for people and nature

This was a phrase used by a couple of groups during their discussion on principles to encompass the idea that they wanted the Assembly’s conclusions to be able to deliver multiple benefits, particularly in ways that balanced the needs of both people and the environment. This linked clearly to principle 6 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan – ‘We must deliver and account for multiple benefits for health, well-being and resilience of communities and nature’ – but it is evident from the members’ discussions that, for many, more priority was placed on people than nature.

j) Be cost effective

Concerns about how the types of changes needed to tackle the climate emergency could be funded were a key concern for many members from the outset of the discussions. Therefore, in thinking about principles, cost effectiveness was prioritised by many. For them, it was seen as vital that proposed initiatives were able to effectively demonstrate real emission reduction impacts that were proportionate to their costs.

k) Be evidence based

Although they acknowledged that climate change could be an emotive subject, members were keen to ensure that the conclusions that they reached as an Assembly were based on the evidence they had/would hear, or other factual arguments uncovered through wider research.

l) Deliver carbon reductions cradle to grave

When considering the idea of ‘cradle to grave’ the members focussed on the principle of ensuring that the carbon emissions created by initiatives to tackle climate change did not outweigh the emissions they reduced i.e. that the balance over the life of a product or infrastructure change was carbon negative, including for the embodied carbon in products and their manufacture. This endorses the principle 5 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan: ‘All policies and actions must deliver carbon reductions across their life cycle; cradle to grave.’

m) Be ambitious

When members considered the need for ambition as a principle, they reflected on a variety of factors including: delivering substantive change; asking a lot from residents in relation to individual behaviour change and the need for strong and committed leadership across the area to drive the agenda of reducing emissions. They advanced that Devon could be a leader nationally in tackling climate change and endorsed principle 15 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan: ‘We must be innovative and dynamic in our pursuit of a Net-zero Devon, sometimes leading and steering policy and action ahead of national initiatives.’

n) Be inclusive

Members consistently emphasised the need for inclusivity in thinking about change, to ensure that any required changes should be achievable for, and of benefit to, the majority of people. Further it was considered important that any required change should be used as an opportunity to reduce inequality, inaccessibility and marginalisation, rather than add to it. This reflects the intention from principle 9 of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan that, in implementing change, ‘The differing impacts of climate change on different groups e.g. disabled, minorities, genders, are addressed.’

o) Balance economic growth with reaching net zero

In these discussions the members focussed on the idea that, in considering changes and actions to reduce emissions, there was a need to also take into account the wider economic needs of Devon, including impacts on jobs and tourism. They felt that any wider negative impacts here needed to be balanced against the goal of reaching net zero. Interestingly, in this case, the concerns of members were quite in contrast to the goal encapsulated in principle 10 of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan: to ‘reframe how we envisage our local economy to move beyond using growth as the measure of success’.

p) Deliver results quickly

Many members were also keen to see action coming from the Assembly that could be implemented as a matter of urgency, in order to start delivering changes in carbon emissions quickly. They embraced the concept of there being a climate emergency, endorsing the sentiment captured in principle 7 of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan, that ‘The term ‘emergency’ should have due consideration given to it. Any activities incompatible with Net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest must be reconsidered.’

q) Enhance our surroundings

Members wanted to ensure that the conclusions they formed were also ones that would enhance the environments across Devon, including urban environments, in ways that supported the goal of net zero. This aligns with the goal of principle 9 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan which notes that ‘Spatial planning has a clear role to reorganise society towards Net-zero living.’

r) Don’t rush change

There was also a sense expressed in some of the group discussions about implementation principles that they felt it would be necessary to introduce changes in incremental stages. They felt this phased approach would be necessary to encourage engagement and acceptance from the wider public and avoid community backlash, with one group even noting “Baby steps are good”.

s) Geographical fairness

Members were keen to see that any proposed actions arising from the Assembly’s conclusions did not discriminate against, or place unfair expectations on, rural areas of Devon. Where possible, they also noted that any solutions proposed should also be deliverable in rural areas. This links closely to principle 12 in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan which states: ‘The Plan must recognise the varying geography of the County, including the importance of linkage and networks.’

t) Not adversely affect others

It was also important to members that policies that might help Devon achieve net-zero target should not have a negative impact on other communities or ecologies. There was particular emphasis given to this being about global justice, but also a recognition that this should include impacts on other parts of the country (as in principle 9 of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan).

Process of developing conclusions

As noted in chapter 3 above, after all hearing an introductory presentation about each topic and having the chance to identify key opportunities and challenges relating to the questions, for the second block of meetings the members of the Assembly were split into three workstreams (with 23 –25 members in each group) [13]. Each group met separately on zoom to take a ‘deeper dive’ into one of the specific topics that the Assembly was tasked with addressing. In relation to onshore wind the key questions were:

  • What should be the role of onshore wind in the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy?
    • Are there conditions or guarantees that need to be in place to enhance public acceptability?

After prioritising the principles that they felt were most relevant to this specific topic, the members heard and questioned a range of evidence before developing a series of ‘initial conclusions’ that were evaluated at the end of the block. Those that were agreed by the majority of the members within this workstream were developed further at the beginning of the third block of meetings (when the entire Assembly reconvened together) before being presented by the members to the wider group for consideration.

Evidence summary

Members in this workstream heard from 9 speakers over the course of this block of meetings. These speakers were selected to collectively provide an overview of the need for energy to be generated in Devon, outline the renewable options available for generating energy locally and the current planning constraints and opportunities relating to onshore wind, and to present a range of perspectives, both for and against, considering the development of more onshore wind sites in the county.

The evidence journey presented to members is outlined below. Videos of all of these presentations can be viewed on the Devon Climate Emergency website [14].

Wednesday 7th July (7 –9pm)

  • Purpose: To understand what Devon’s energy needs currently are, future demands for electricity, how energy is currently being produced in Devon and the wider context of how energy generation is being approached in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan and Devon Renewable Energy Strategy.
    • Tony Norton, Director at the Centre for Energy and the Environment at the University of Exeter, with the opportunity for members to ask clarifying questions.
  • Purpose: To understand how onshore wind energy works, how much it costs and why it is something Devon could be considering developing further.
    • Second presentation by Tony Norton, Director at the Centre for Energy and the Environment at the University of Exeter, with the opportunity for members to ask clarifying questions.

Saturday 10th July (10am –12:30pm and 2 –4pm)

  • Purpose: To consider different perspectives on the impacts of onshore wind energy on areas such as the economy, landscape conservation, wildlife and on neighbourhoods.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Johnny Gowdy, Director at Regen – Speaking about attracting businesses to the area and job creation, including the types of jobs created by renewable energy production initiatives including onshore wind sites.
    • Ian Bailey, Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Plymouth – Speaking about the potential wider economic benefits to the county.
    • Alex Whish, Landscape Specialist with South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council – Talking about the impacts of wind farm sites on landscape conservation and character.
    • Guy Parker, Ecologist at Wychwood Biodiversity – Talking about impacts of windfarms on wildlife and biodiversity.
    • Susi Batstone, a representative from Fullabrook CIC – Talking about experience of living near the Fullabrook windfarm in Devon, and the impacts for people, communities and neighbourhoods.

These speakers also took part in ‘carousel’ discussions with members, where each spent 10 minutes in the small discussion groups answering questions and providing additional information.

  • Purpose: To understand the planning powers and constraints which inform any applications for onshore wind developments at present.
    • James Shorten, Geographer and Planner at Geo Consultants and member of the Net Zero Task Force
  • Purpose: To explore alternative community models of ownership of onshore wind developments.
    • Jake Burnyeat, Managing Director of Communities for Renewables

Sunday 11th July (10am –12:30pm)

  • Purpose: to recap the range of evidence members have heard and focus members’ attention back to the key questions and the task of considering Resolutions and the Conditions that would need to be in place for onshore wind to play a greater role in energy generation in Devon.
    • Patrick Devine-Wright, Professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter and Chair of the Net Zero Task Force.

Prioritised principles

During block 2 the members in this workstream each identified, from the long list of principles developed by the Assembly, the 5 that they felt were most relevant to considering a greater role for onshore wind energy generation in Devon. The graph below shows the principles that were most consistently prioritised by members for consideration when forming conclusions.

Graph showing the principles consistently prioritized by assembly members when considering their conclusions. 73% of support is in favour of creating solutions for the long term. 73% of support suggests that change is not optional, but essential. 41% of support suggests that conclusions should be right for Devon. 41% of support asks members to consider economic/financial fairness. 41% of support is in favour of involving people.
  1. Creating solutions for the long term

    When discussing why this principle was particularly important members focused on the fact that energy generation is a long term issue that needs investment now if we are going to be in a position to fulfil future energy demands in a sustainable way. There was also considerable emphasis on taking decisions about this away from party politics and election cycles, and ensuring cross-party commitment to long term solutions.

“Support needs to cross party lines and be fact-based -not having policy changes every 4 years, not reversing decisions, not backtracking (e.g. here are subsidies, now taken away, repeat)” [15]

2. That change is not optional, but essential
In their discussions members concentrated on the emergency nature of the need to be producing sustainable energy, and noted that they believed that there was no longer the option of doing nothing or delaying action through indecision. While they recognised that, in relation to the development of more wind turbines in Devon, there may be public opposition they tended to feel that leadership was needed to overcome this. There was also considerable focus on the idea that the older generation has ‘sat on their hands’ on this issue for too long and that younger residents were more likely to accept decisions that protected their futures.

“Gets complex cos the older generation has wasted a lot of time. We should have been doing this a long time ago, but now the pressures on -how much time do we really have? It may be unpopular at first, and uncomfy for some, but culturally we need really good leadership. Sure, protecting the landscape is a big thing too, but not a huge issue in terms of how important this is.”

3. Be right for Devon
Here members tended to focus on the people of Devon and the economic and social benefits that onshore wind could bring to the county, noting across the groups that concerns for the look of the landscape should be secondary to the needs of people. There was also attention paid to the potential for Devon communities to actually benefit from investment in onshore wind sites, both directly in relation to community ownership and indirectly in relation to jobs, and an optimism that once there was wider understanding of the need and opportunities that resistance would diminish.

“It would be great if it could be a unifying rather than a divisive thing for Devon – existential challenge can bring communities together, so comms and conversations need to start from this.”

4. Be economically / financially fair

There was also considerable emphasis placed on the balance of risk and reward being spread across communities in Devon so that the potential burden of energy production, alongside the opportunities (investment, jobs and training) were available to all. Prioritising community ownership was also highlighted here, to ensure that profits remained in Devon and benefited residents.

“Community ownership a big incentive for communities affected – helps persuade people to look favourably on turbines. Should be aiming for 100% community owned in next ten years…if communities don’t take them up, then companies will.”

5. Involve people

As touched upon in all the discussions noted above, the need to involve communities was considered a priority by many, but the biggest emphasis here was placed on the need to inform and educate people about the importance of taking action now to tackle the climate emergency. While stressing the need for communities to have a say in what happens in their local areas the majority of members expressed the view that most people were reasonable, and would make socially responsible decisions when they had access to the relevant information.

“You need to take people with you on this and not have them feel something is happening to them without them. But decisions about the location of turbines need to be led by science and where they will make most difference, and then followed by intense community engagement and consultation in those areas. You need to be clear about what people can decide on (and also what’s not for discussion).Some people don’t like them –but we need to help them understand we can’t just go on as we are.”

[13] Members were not able to choose the topic that they would explore. Instead groups were randomly allocated to ensure that the demographic and attitudinal diversity of the whole Assembly was replicated, as far as possible, within each workstream.
[14] Devon Climate Emergency website: https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/block-two/
[15] Quotes from members are used throughout this report to illustrate the wider points made in the discussions. They have been selected on the basis that they are indicative of the wider sentiments expressed.

Assembly conclusions regarding onshore wind

In the final block of meetings Involve presented the Assembly as a whole with two proposed Resolutions that they would be asked to vote on, resolutions that encapsulated the essence of the questions set before the Assembly and the focus of members during the discussions.

Working in small discussion groups, with participants from across all workstreams, the members refined the Conditions that they felt needed to be in place to increase the public acceptability of the actions proposed in the Resolutions. They also worked together to write supporting statements that would sit alongside these Conditions to explain the rationale behind them.

The results of the Assembly’s final vote on the Resolutions relating to the development of more onshore wind electricity generation sites in Devon are presented below, and illustrated by the accompanying graph. When relevant, the Resolutions are followed by the supporting Conditions proposed by members, along with graphs illustrating the levels of given to each by the members.

Onshore Wind Resolution 1

In principle, we support the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon.

Supported by 89%

A pie chart showing the results for Onshore Wind Resolution 1. 89% of members supported the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon. 57% of members strongly support this. 32% of members support this. 5% of members are unsure. 3% of members do not support this. 3% of members strongly oppose this.

Supporting statement written by members
“We recognise that we need to be generating more renewable energy to meet the predicted increase in demand for electricity in coming years, as the country transitions away from using fossil fuels. Wind farms are an established technology that provides one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to generate renewable energy, and in Devon there are open spaces that would be ideal for them to be located. We believe that more onshore wind developments would be good for Devon, and the climate, and that the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy should give more emphasis to onshore wind as one of the mixture of ways we can generate the energy we need.”

Our support for the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon would increase with the condition…

Onshore Wind Condition 1.1

… that there is good, clear, high quality information and education for communities (from an objective, trusted and credible source) about the need for action and the crisis nature of climate and energy needs:

a) including putting forward an emergency local plan identifying potential sites and the potential benefits; and

b) providing practical support for affected communities to understand the potential benefits, processes and challenges.

Agreed by 87%

A bar chart showing support for condition 1.1 of Onshore Wind resolution 1. 65% of people strongly agree with the condition. 22% of people agree with the condition. 8% of people are unsure/ 3% of people disagree. 2% of people strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members:
“This will be important because people need to understand more fully and widely about the issues, including younger people, and not just in the area where developments are taking place. Information needs to show the full costs alongside information about wider benefits too. We need to base information on science first – but we also need politicians engaging with the issues, and doing so respectfully, so that people feel listened to and don’t disengage.”

Onshore Wind Condition 1.2

…that all reasonable measures are undertaken to minimise potential negative impacts on communities(for example,the risk of impacts on house prices dueto the proximity to a turbine) and wildlife in the design and positioning of a windfarm, and there are opportunities built in for people to raise and seek redress for negative effects, should they occur, throughout the lifetime of its operation.

Agreed by 87%

A bar graph showing member's support for onshore wind condition 1.2. 61% of members strongly agree with the condition. 26% of members agree with the condition. 5% of members are not sure. 6% of members disagree with the condition. 2% of members strongly disagree with. thecondition.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important for increasing the acceptability of more onshore wind sites in Devon, as it will help to get buy-in from the local community initially, and the community’s continued support, as they will see benefits providing genuine good for the people around them: economic, financial and social benefits that are multi-generational and sustainable. While streamlining the planning system will help ensure the deliverability of schemes that are broadly supported by communities, it will also be important to emphasise that any changes won’t mean missing out important protections around health, safety, broader impacts and the need to build sustainably for the long term.”

Onshore Wind Condition 1.3

… that the developments bring lasting local financial, economic, social and environmental benefits, with community ownership and Community Interest Companies held accountable for the distribution of funds.

Agreed by 86%

Bar graph showing member's support for onshore wind condition 1.3. 62% strongly agree. 24% agree. 6% aren't sure. 3% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because wind farm developments, when done in collaboration with communities, have the potential to provide financial returns to local communities, allowing them to invest within their local areas and populations to support local social causes as well as fund wider environmental projects, including, for example, rewilding and enhancing biodiversity or providing grants for retrofitting. We have the land area and ability to be in the forefront of generating wind energy and it would be nice for communities in Devon to be able to gain from this instead of just other areas.”

Onshore Wind Condition 1.4

…that everyone across Devon understands where wind farms can be sited, and can easily access information on potential impacts on a range of conditions (including mental health, wildlife, economy) and the range of potential benefits (e.g. lower cost electricity, reduced carbon emissions and impacts on climate change).

Agreed by 84%

Bar graph showing support for onshore wind condition 1.4. 58% strongly agree. 26% agree. 12% are not sure. 2% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members

“This will be important for broadening public support for wind farms. The public needs to have clear and transparent information, like we have received, about where wind farm sites can be located within the current planning regime. They also need to have access to the education available about mitigating and limiting impacts in order to get everyone to the same point of understanding (pros, cons, benefits etc.). If this was the case we think that the general public would come to the same conclusions the Assembly have.”

Onshore Wind Condition 1.5

… that the majority are in community ownership, with a democratic process in place to inform the early stages of planning and development (including funding support at this stage).

Agreed by 84%

A bar graph showing member's support for onshore wind condition 1.5. 52% strongly agree. 32% agree. 8% are not sure. 3% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it will increase our energy security. It will allow us to create our own energy for distribution, which in turn will lead to financial benefit for the community. We are lucky to have space in Devon where wind turbines can be located with little disruption to wildlife or communities, and the prospect of community ownership is likely to lead to more support for these developments from the public. Most importantly, if the wind farms are community-owned, all the benefits will first and foremost be kept in Devon.”

Onshore Wind Condition 1.6

…that energy is not considered in isolation, but alongside consideration of the space available for other land use development (housing, roads, agriculture, business, industry, schools, sewers) within local planning process and strategic planning.

Agreed by 80%

A bar chart showing support for onshore wind condition 1.6. 51% of people strongly agree. 29% of people agree. 11% of people are not sure. 6% of people disagree. 3% of people strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because it is about joined up thinking and the need for local development plans to be rapidly updated to meet the county’s need to respond to the climate crisis. Increased energy generation needs to be part of that, but needs to be planned and managed in a strategic way. Any infrastructure plan has to work in practice and place developments in areas that have the most positive and least negative impacts, and people need to understand the reasoning behind their location so as not to get angry about developments in their area. Also, it would save time and money, as currently it takes years to get planning permission for wind farms. If planned strategically they can be implemented collectively alongside other infrastructure upgrades.”

Onshore Wind Resolution 2

In principle, we support reforming the National Planning Framework to remove the requirement for ‘complete’ community support for development planning applications for onshore wind turbines.

Supported by 87%

A pie chart showing members support for Onshore Wind resolution 2. 55% strongly support the resolution. 32% support it. 3% are not sure. 5% do not support it. 5% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“We are in a climate emergency, so we need to act. Onshore wind development should not be treated as a special case in the National Planning Framework and subject to additional restrictions – but treated, and planned for like all necessary infrastructure developments. There will always be some people who disagree, but in all aspects of life we go with a majority. It is still important that developments should be able to demonstrate that affected local communities have a majority in favour, and to do that the community will need to have access to good quality information in order to make their decision.”

Our support for reforming the National Planning Framework to remove the requirement for complete community support would increase with the condition…

Onshore Wind Condition 2.1

… that communities where sites are identified benefit from them, and that they get really good support to engage and understand the issues.

Agreed by 84%

A bar chart showing support for onshore wind condition 2.1. 62% strongly agree with it. 22% agree. 8% are not sure. 5% disagree. 3% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important as people need good and objective information to be able to make decisions on issues that affect them. Community benefits need to be clear and understandable and include both pros and cons so, objective decisions are made. Giving communities the opportunity to link up with other communities where turbines have already been sited would help, as speaking with other communities with practical experience will help them to understand the impacts.”

Onshore Wind Condition 2.2

… that onshore wind farms are developed where the energy produced is most needed (e.g. near industrial areas where it can be easily connected to the grid) and that the location of developments is considered in a way that is integrated with other wider considerations for Devon, such as the need for a mix of energy production, land use and respect for areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Agreed by 84%

A bar chart showing support for onshore wind condition 2.2. 48% strongly agree with it. 36% agree. 8% are not sure. 6% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because, even if the Assembly does give support to the development of more onshore wind turbines in Devon, it should not be seen as being blanket support for onshore wind. The identification of potential sites for development needs to be considered alongside other choices, benefits and demands on land use (i.e. agriculture, tourism and the conservation of land and wildlife).”

Onshore Wind Condition 2.3

… that planning structures are streamlined and operate in favour of community ownership: where profits are reinvested by, and for, the community.

Agreed by 80%

A bar chart showing support for onshore wind condition 2.3. 56% strongly agree with it. 24% agree. 12% are not sure. 3% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members:
“This will be important for increasing both the acceptability of more onshore wind sites in Devon as it will help to get buy-in from the local community initially, and continued support as they will see benefits providing genuine good for the people around them: economic, financial and social benefits that are multi-generational and sustainable. While streamlining the planning system will help ensure the deliverability of schemes that are broadly supported by communities, it will also be important to emphasise that any changes won’t mean missing out important protections around health, safety, broader impacts the need to build sustainably for the long term.”

Onshore Wind Condition 2.4

…that the development planning process is sped up and ensures dialogue with communities is a continuing part of this.

Agreed by 78%

A bar chart showing support for onshore wind condition 2.4. 58% strongly agree with it. 20% agree. 14% are not sure. 5% disagree. 3% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members:
“This is important because there is a climate emergency. We don’t have time to delay in implementing this shift towards renewable sources of energy and it is essential we act now. It’s crucial for the wider public and community to be educated on the topic of energy and the role of wind farms prior to applications for sites being lodged, and for them to be involved throughout the planning process, so that they can give it informed thought. It is practically impossible to get 100% public support for any development project, especially one of a potentially controversial nature such as a wind farm, but we have to be democratic and go with the majority view.”

Process of developing conclusions

As noted in chapter 3 above, after all hearing an introductory presentation about each topic and having the chance to identify key opportunities and challenges relating to the questions, for the second block of meetings the members of the Assembly were split into three workstreams (with 23 –25 members in each group) [16]. Each group met separately on zoom to take a ‘deeper dive’ into one of the specific topics that the Assembly was tasked with addressing. In relation to roads and mobility the key questions were:

  • What needs to be done to encourage less car use?
    • How can reducing road capacity and financial ‘carrots and sticks’ to make car use less attractive reduce traffic levels and emissions while maintain mobility?

After prioritising the principles that they felt were most relevant to this specific topic, the members heard and questioned a range of evidence before developing a series of ‘initial conclusions’ that were evaluated at the end of the block. Those that were agreed by the majority of the members within this workstream were developed further at the beginning of the third block of meetings (when the entire Assembly reconvened together) before being presented by the members to the wider group for consideration.

Evidence summary

Members in this workstream heard from 10 speakers over the course of this block of meetings. These speakers were selected to collectively provide an overview of current road use in Devon, the approaches to reducing the need for private car use already included in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan and details of four specific types of initiatives that could be deployed to make car use less attractive and, in some cases, raise revenue that could be used to fund improvements for active travel and public transport.

The evidence journey presented to members is outlined below. Videos of all of these presentations can be viewed on the Devon Climate Emergency website [17].

Wednesday 7th July (7 –9pm)

  • Purpose: To understand what Devon’s current transport patterns, needs and emissions are and the challenges associated with reducing these.
    • Jamie Hulland, Transportation Strategy & Road Safety Manager at Devon County Council, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.
  • Purpose: To understand what the Interim Devon Carbon Plan already proposes to encourage less car use and discuss what some of the biggest challenges are going to be.
    • Nik Bowyer, Associate Director of Transport Planning and Modelling at Aecom, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.

Saturday 10th July (10am –12:30pm and 2 –4pm)

  • Purpose: To give members an overview of options for reducing the road space available for cars,and giving existing space to active and shared modes, and understand the multiple benefits that schemes like that are trying to achieve.
    • Tom Cohen, Senior Lecturer on transport at the University of Westminster
  • Purpose: To consider different perspectives on the pros and cons of reducing the road space available for cars through a series of ‘lightening talks’ advocating differing positions.

    Contributing Speakers
    • Will Pratt from Devon County Council talking about their experience of implementing schemes to create more dedicated space for cycling.
    • Tom Wiersma from the Northern Devon Cycling Campaign talking about how cycling and walking infrastructure in Northern Devon has benefited the health and well-being of locals and tourists and the local environment.
    • Councillor Clyde Loakes, from Waltham Forest Council talking about their experience of creating a ‘mini-holland’ in Walthamstow.
    • Ann Hunter from InExeter, presenting a business perspective.

These speakers also took part in ‘carousel’ discussions with members, where each spent 10 minutes in the small discussion groups answering questions and providing additional information.

  • Purpose: To use case studies to explore how restricting car parking provision and introducing parking charges could encourage less car use.
    • Steve Melia, lecturer in transport and planning at University of West England.
  • Purpose: To use case studies to understand how workplace parking levies can act as a deterrent to car use.
    • Nigel Hallam, Workplace Parking Levy Service Manager at Nottingham City Council.
  • Purpose: To use case studies to explore how introducing congestion charges or low emission zones can help reduce emissions by discouraging car use.
    • John Siraut, Director of Economics at Jacobs

Sunday 11th July (10am –12:30pm)

  • No new evidence was introduced on Sunday, instead members had time to reflect on and use what they had learnt at the previous meetings.
Prioritised principles

During block 2 the members in this workstream each identified, from the long list of principles developed by the Assembly, the 5 that they felt were most relevant when considering what should be done to discourage car use across Devon in order to reduce emissions from private vehicles. The graph below shows the principles that were most consistently prioritised by members for consideration when forming conclusions.

Graph showing the principles consistently prioritized by assembly members when considering their conclusions. 57% of support is in favour of solutions being right for Devon. 52% of support is in favour of supporting behaviour change. 52% of support is in favour of solutions being locally achievable. 48% of support suggests that change is not optional, but essential. 48% of support is in favour of creating solutions for the long-term.
  1. Be right for Devon

There was focus given in the discussions here to Devon being a diverse county, with a high proportion of rural areas, which made some members believe that some of the initiatives that were discussed within this workstream would be impractical to implement. Maintaining the ability for people living in rural areas to travel without bearing all of the costs of change was seen as very important. The important role that tourism plays in the local economy was also raised, and there were concerns expressed that making car travel more difficult could have a negative impact on tourism, although one group did also highlight the opportunities that could be created around ecotourism if changes were well planned and integrated.

“We need to be acknowledging our unique topography and demographics. A lot of speakers’ input we’ve heard won’t work for Devon as a whole. Plus, ours is a seasonal economy from tourism -population doubles at peak time. Not all ideas that work elsewhere will apply here, so need to come up with Devon specific solutions.”

2. Support behaviour change

Recognising that achieving substantive emission reductions will require significant behaviour and mindset changes across the population, to move away from people using their cars by default, the members emphasised that support and incentives would be needed. Education was seen as key, but ‘the carrots’ (the supports that would enable people to make more carbon friendly choices) were also emphasised. They felt that initiatives that made it easier for people to change their behaviour would be key to ensuring that the wider public did not resist making changes because they felt they had been imposed on them without choice.

“We need using cars less to become the normal, socially acceptable thing to do, but this will require different ways of thinking. A lot of people will be sceptical, but once you’ve shown the benefits of the change (like in Walthamstow) then more people will come onboard. We will probably need a stick at the end though, as not everyone will be prepared to change.”


3. Be locally achievable

In this context being locally achievable was interpreted as being “something you can do in Devon without outside help” and there was considerable focus on the value of using the powers and revenue raising tools available to Devon’s Councils to drive behaviour change. For many in these discussions however, the fact that there needed to be significant investment in public transport in order to support and enable less car use was considered to be a real challenge locally. They also recognised the limits to local authorities’ powers to influence this. There was also emphasis given to taking a hyper-local approach.

“Any of these schemes need tailoring to each community and their needs, and people have to be involved in making these decisions. We can’t have a blanket approach if we are going to avoid unintended consequences.”

4. Creating solutions for the long term

Members focused on the fact that responding to the climate emergency is going to require long term behaviour change from people, and the support and infrastructure to enable this to be embedded has to be future-proofed and sustainable.

“This can’t just be a quick fix, we need to think long term. We need decision making that is far reaching, based on evidence, makes the right changes for Devon, and serve the next generations, not just knee-jerk reactions. The infrastructure we put in place needs to be working for the long term (100yrs).”

5.That change is not optional, but essential

Members recognised in their discussions that continuing to produce carbon emissions at the current rate was not a viable option in the context of climate change and that people’s expectations and behaviours were going to need to shift. They argued that people needed to have a greater awareness of the impacts of the small changes they could make, as many would then do so voluntarily. But many also acknowledged that there was a necessity for some changes to be driven by penalties, for example if you had to pay to park people might choose an alternative mode of travel.

“The results would be catastrophic if there is no action now, and it might already be too late. We will need to accept some changes ourselves and to the environment. We will need to live with changes and it can’t all be optional because some of the changes won’t help people, so they won’t make them unless pushed to.”

In the final block of meetings Involve presented the Assembly as a whole with seven proposed Resolutions that they would be asked to vote on. These Resolutions were written to explicitly cover the key questions set before this workstream and pick up on additional aspects of the topic that members had focussed on during their discussions, for example the needs of rural communities.

Working in small discussion groups, with participants from all workstreams, the members refined the Conditions that they felt needed to be in place to increase the public acceptability of the actions proposed in the Resolutions. They also worked together to write Supporting Statements that would sit alongside these Conditions to explain the rationale behind them.

The results of the Assembly’s final vote on the Resolutions relating to discouraging car use in Devon are presented below, and illustrated by the accompanying graph. Where relevant, the Resolutions are followed by the supporting Conditions proposed by members, along with graphs illustrating the levels of support given to each by the members.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 1

In principle, we support the ambition in the interim Devon carbon plan to reduce traffic emissions across Devon by making car use less attractive, while maintaining mobility.

Supported by 74%

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 1. 50% strongly support the resolution. 24% support it. 11% are not sure. 9% do not support it. 6% strongly oppose it.

Our support for ambitions to reduce emissions by making car use less attractive would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 1.1

…that there is widespread investment in ensuring that there is a better public and active transport infrastructure across Devon that can be used as a reliable, regular, affordable and integrated alternative, and that significant progress is made on this before the wider implementation of proposals to discourage car use.

Agreed by 89%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 1.1. 74% strongly agree with it. 15% agree. 6% are not sure. 0% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it will support the transition to a new way to moving around the county -not just ‘don’t use your car’ – and allows the public to trust that this will be helpful to them. Because of the necessity for mobility wherever people are, and whatever their needs, it would mean that those who still need to use a car can (hopefully an electric one), but those who don’t need to have more choice. It also gives consideration to the differences between urban and rural areas and enables changes to be made that fit the area e.g. the use of bigger / smaller buses, adding bike racks to buses so people can take bikes with them to get around the bigger towns when they get there, or cycle lane provision in different ways that ensure safety in different places.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 1.2

…that there is an independent authority put in place to oversee and ensure accountability in the collection of resources generated by any charging schemes to ensure they are allocated towards public and active travel improvements (and other road emission reduction schemes) and that their findings are regularly reported.

Agreed by 74%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 1.2. 47% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 15% are not sure. 3% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important to ensure that Councils are held accountable for the use of funds collected from the introduction of ‘financial sticks’ to discourage car use, and ensure that they are ring-fenced for use to support active and public transport improvements. This should be monitored by a low cost, independent, not-for-profit authority to ensure it is a streamlined process, and the outcomes regularly publicly reported so that the public can see what they have been paying for.”

Roads and Mobility Resolution 2

We recognise that there will likely always be a need for private car use in Devon, particularly in rural areas of the county, and support the initiatives included in the interim Devon carbon plan to help minimise the emissions these cause by investing in the infrastructure to support the increased use of electric vehicles.

Supported by 92%

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 2. 62% strongly support the resolution. 30% support it. 2% are not sure. 0% do not support it. 6% strongly oppose it.

Despite members being asked to focus on initiatives to discourage car use there was a persistent tendency within the discussions to drift back to concerns that this was not a viable approach throughout the whole of the county. This resolution was therefore proposed as a mechanism for members to convey their concerns regarding this and acknowledge the other mechanisms included in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan that are designed to retain rural mobility.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 3

In principle, we support taking measures to reduce the road space available to cars and reallocate it to active and public travel modes in Devon.

Supported by 74%

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 3. 35% strongly support the resolution. 39% support it. 14% are not sure. 6% do not support it. 6% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“We recognise that one way of discouraging people from using their cars, when it is not necessary, would be to make it less convenient to drive and more convenient to use other forms of transport –walking, cycling and public transport. In order to make space within our towns and cities for the infrastructure needed to make active and public transport easier and more convenient than driving, this will mean changing road layouts in ways that offer less space for cars.”

Our support for taking measures to discourage car use by reallocating road space to active and public travel modes would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.1

…that priority is given to making sure that you can still travel cheaply around Devon, in a similar time to now, via active travel/public transport.

Agreed by 88%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 3.1. 64% strongly agree with it. 24% agree. 8% are not sure. 2% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because infrastructure needs to be in place before people can change their behaviours or make an effective transition to electric vehicles (although innovation and availability of electric vehicles needs to be greater too). Public transport needs to be as convenient as possible (not just the service, but also paying -e.g.the oyster card approach) so that it is easier for people than getting in their car. The public transport companies need to come on board to ensure that fares are cheaper and that public transport is more accessible for all, including those with disabilities.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.2

…that there is the provision of more modern and effective park and ride facilities.

Agreed by 83%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 3.2. 53% strongly agree with it. 30% agree. 15% are not sure. 0% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important so that we don’t immediately have to try and stop people from driving to towns and city centres, at a time when we haven’t yet got electric cars. If there is a modern and effective park and ride system (in conjunction with the removal of vehicles from high traffic areas) then these could provide hubs for people coming in from rural areas and then linking to public transport. It could also help to make the shopping experience in these places more relaxed, as you wouldn’t have to worry about parking and traffic.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.3

…that proper cycling infrastructure is created across the county.

Agreed by 80%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 3.3. 53% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 12% are not sure. 3% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because, if we really want to encourage more people out of their cars and onto bikes and scooters then they need to feel that they can do this safely and easily. We need high quality, safe cycle lanes (as currently many are dangerously narrow or shared use). We also need to improve interconnectivity and would benefit from more safe bike parking facilities, bike hire schemes and reward systems. This will not only help reduce carbon emissions but will support us to be healthier, more active communities.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.4

…that there is differentiation in the public transport fares depending on user categories (e.g. discounted fares for residents and/or means tested travel passes).

Agreed by 68%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 3.4. 48% strongly agree with it. 20% agree. 12% are not sure. 12% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because making public transport more affordable would make it more attractive and help people make more environmentally positive choices in terms of transportation. The present system doesn’t work and fares are too expensive. For families, or groups travelling together, using a car is often the cheapest option, and this shouldn’t be the case. Free, or subsidized, travel passes for those on low incomes would get rid of this cost barrier to using public transport for more journeys.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 3.5

…that Devon investigates introducing a Tourist Levy, where the tax on tourists visiting is allocated to the local community to fund initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.

Agreed by 68%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 3.5. 42% strongly agree with it. 26% agree. 18% are not sure. 8% disagree. 6% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because locals pay for a lot of the infrastructure which supports holiday makers. This also has the potential to raise significant funds, without adding a huge cost to each visitor. The funds should only go towards measures to reduce carbon emissions. There are successful examples we could follow of this being implemented elsewhere, for example in France and other European capitals, and it seems that a tax on accommodation would be more practical than a tourist road tax or mileage charge which were also discussed.”

Roads and Mobility Resolution 4

We recognise that there is the need to introduce some ‘financial sticks’, like parking charges, congestion charges and parking levies, in order to help fund the provision of wider improvements (‘the carrots’) that will help reduce emissions while maintaining mobility across Devon.

Not supported by the majority of members (only 50% support received)

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 3. 23% strongly support the resolution. 27% support it. 24% are not sure. 9% do not support it. 17% strongly oppose it.

While members had expressed relatively high levels of support for the overall aim of discouraging car use while maintaining mobility, they remained quite split when considering how this should be paid for (with almost ¼ of members expressing that they were unsure about this Resolution). From the discussion notes it appears that members were concerned particularly about how this could be implemented fairly across Devon in ways that would not disadvantage people living in rural areas who had a greater reliance on private cars for mobility. Many members also suggested that the focus for generating funds should be from tourist users rather than locals who, they believed, already supported significant infrastructure for visitors. Members also expressed a significant level of distrust in local authorities to invest the funds generated in improvements that would benefit local residents.

Roads and Mobility Resolution 5

In principle, we support taking measures to reduce space available for parking and introduce parking charges in areas across Devon.

Not supported by a majority of members (only 46% support achieved)

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 3. 17% strongly support the resolution. 29% support it. 22% are not sure. 12% do not support it. 20% strongly oppose it.

Although this Resolution was not supported by members, and actively opposed by almost 1/3, there were two conditions proposed and agreed by members that would increase the acceptability of reducing the space available for parking and introducing parking charges, both of which pick up on the concerns raised in relation to Resolution 4.

Our support for reducing the availability of parking and introducing charges would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 5.1

…that parking charges are ringfenced and reinvested in the public transport network to reduce the public’s resistance to paying parking fees.

Agreed by 75%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 5.1. 46% strongly agree with it. 29% agree. 11% are not sure. 5% disagree. 9% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important to assure people that it is not just revenue raising. If we are to encourage people to use their cars less, they need an effective, efficient integrated and affordable alternative, so the public transport system needs to be excellent and needs to be in place (ideally before parking charges are implemented) as a service that covers every area, not just urban ones.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 5.2

…that there are differentiated parking charges based on: a) type of vehicles (electric / polluting); and b) users’ needs (e.g. essential work use, people with limited mobility).

Agreed by 66%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 5.2. 42% strongly agree with it. 24% agree. 18% are not sure. 5% disagree. 11% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because some people will still need to drive. While charges will make driving less appealing, differentiated charges would mean you still have fairness for everybody who is using a car. This would create a system that fairly reflects the environmental impacts of users’ actions, for example by encouraging the use of low emission vehicles.”

Roads and Mobility Resolution 6

In principle, we support the introduction of workplace parking levies in areas across Devon.

Not supported by a majority of members (only 45% support achieved)

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 6. 21% strongly support the resolution. 24% support it. 26% are not sure. 12% do not support it. 17% strongly oppose it.

Although this resolution was ultimately not supported by the members there were Conditions that they proposed that would increase its acceptability.

Our support for workplace parking levies would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.1

…that money gained from workplace parking levies is spent on supporting public transport routes, or viable alternatives for employees, including employers providing shuttle busses for workers or paying for bike hubs and shower facilities at workplaces.

Agreed by 75%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 6.1. 44% strongly agree with it. 31% agree. 11% are not sure. 5% disagree. 9% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This could be an important revenue source for Councils, but must be ring-fenced to supporting initiatives that reduce the need to drive. It should be used to support not just urban public transport but rural public transport as well, even though it will most likely be generated from the big employers in the larger towns and cities.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.2

…that it only applies to businesses with a certain level of turnover and/or a certain number of staff (level to be determined based on learning from successful models elsewhere).

Agreed by 71%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 6.2. 41% strongly agree with it. 30% agree. 15% are not sure. 6% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This limit is important as it will help to avoid the levy having a negative economic impact on smaller businesses. We also think that other exclusions may need to be considered, for example where businesses are particularly rural or operate out of hours. Companies that provide an electric vehicle fleet for workers’ use should also be considered for exemption.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 6.3

…that it is the employer who pays and the cost cannot be passed onto the employee.

Agreed by 68%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 6.3. 33% strongly agree with it. 35% agree. 17% are not sure. 6% disagree. 9% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it would also encourage businesses to consider reducing the amount of parking they think they need to provide for staff, which would drive behaviour changes because, if people didn’t have as easy access to free parking at work they might choose to use more active and public transport options. It could also motivate the employer to encourage employees to take more active and sustainable forms of mobility (including promoting car sharing and park & ride schemes). Finally, it takes the emphasis away from the employee being penalised and moves it towards incentive-based travel schemes for work.”

Roads and Mobility Resolution 7

In principle, we support introducing congestion charges and low emission zones in areas across Devon.

Supported by 62%

A pie chart showing members support for Roads and Mobility resolution 7. 26% strongly support the resolution. 36% support it. 15% are not sure. 12% do not support it. 11% strongly oppose it.

Our support for congestion charges and low emission zones would increase with the condition…

Roads and Mobility Condition 7.1

…that they won’t be introduced as a ‘one size fits all’ approach for all areas of the county and groups of people.

Agreed by 84%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 7.1. 52% strongly agree with it. 32% agree. 8% are not sure. 3% disagree. 6% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because it will really only work in areas where there are high volumes of traffic such as urban areas, and potentially during holiday seasons in other areas, and as long as there are alternatives available such as park and ride schemes. It is also important that it does not impact on local communities to the detriment of their livelihoods so that equity is maintained.”

Roads and Mobility Condition 7.2

…that there is careful consideration, and review, of the economic impact on the area.

Agreed by 76%

A bar chart showing support for roads and mobility condition 7.2. 41% strongly agree with it. 35% agree. 11% are not sure. 5% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“It will be important that this can be shown to be implementable without having a negative effect on areas outside large cities like Exeter and Plymouth. We don’t want to see people discouraged from areas and make town centres into ‘ghost towns’, disadvantage independent businesses. It would also need to be done carefully and more effective alternative transport options made available than current levels so as to not add to lack of trust in local authorities (carrots are more important than sticks).”

Process of developing conclusions

As noted in chapter 3 above, after all hearing an introductory presentation about each topic and having the chance to identify key opportunities and challenges relating to the questions, in the second block of meetings the members of the Assembly were split into three workstreams (with 23 –25 members in each group) [18]. Each group met separately on zoom to take a ‘deeper dive’ into one of the specific topics that the Assembly was tasked with addressing. In relation to retrofitting the key question was:

  • What would be the best ways of encouraging, or requiring, people to retrofit their homes, properties or business premises to reduce carbon emissions?

After prioritising the principles that they felt were most relevant to this specific topic, the members heard and questioned a range of evidence before developing a series of initial conclusions’ that they evaluated at the end of the block of meetings. The ones that were agreed by the majority of the members within this workstream were developed further at the beginning of the third block of meetings (when the entire Assembly reconvened together) before being presented, by the members, to the wider group for consideration.

Evidence summary

Members in this workstream heard from 8 speakers over the course of this block of meetings. These speakers were selected to collectively provide an overview of the challenge of reducing emissions from homes and other properties across Devon, the existing opportunities for support for people to undertake retrofitting and two specific approaches that local authorities could take to encourage, or require, increased retrofitting. The evidence journey presented to members is outlined below. Videos of all of these presentations can be viewed on the Devon Climate Emergency website [19].

Wednesday 7th July (7 –9pm)

  • Purpose: To increase member’s understanding of the scale of emissions which currently come from buildings in Devon and the scale and scope of the challenge; with particular emphasis on the pace of what is needed and the costs to retrofit all housing stock to meet net zero aims, in comparison to what has been achieved in past decade.
    • Dan Lash -Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter
  • Purpose: To enable members to better understand what retrofitting means in practice –including the types of modifications required, and the average cost, for an average house to meet net zero emissions and the impact of different types of retrofitting actions on energy bills.
    • Kate Royston, Director and Energy Advisor for Tamar Energy Community
  • Purpose: To inform members about what the Interim Devon Carbon Plan already proposes in this area
    • Ian Hutchcroft, Net Zero Task Force and Energiesprong

Saturday 10th July (10am –12:30pm and 2 –4pm)

  • Purpose: To explain the existing financial supports which are available for people to retrofit their homes, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.
    • Nicola Corrigan, Director at 361 Energy
  • Purpose: To outline to members the existing mechanisms and levers available to local authorities to encourage, and/or require, people to undertake retrofitting work on their properties, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.
    • Alastair Mumford, Corporate Energy Manager at Devon County Council
  • Purpose: To use a case study to present how the powers available to Local Authorities have been used in other areas to encourage, or require, people to undertake retrofitting –specifically the use of Council Tax and Business Rates as an incentive, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.
    • Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager -East Devon District Council
  • Purpose: To use case studies to present how the powers available to Local Authorities have been used in other areas to encourage, or require, people to undertake retrofitting –specifically the use of Planning Permission as a trigger to require retrofitting activity, with the opportunity for members to call the speaker into their discussion groups to answer questions.
    • Doug Eltham, Environment and Sustainability Policy Officer at Devon County Council, using slides from an initiative in Uttlesford due to the unavailability of the speaker.
  • Purpose: To investigate how the proposed Devon Energy Advice Service should best support Devon citizens, with an opportunity for members to pose questions to the speaker in plenary.
    • Chris Greener, South West Energy Unit Project Officer at Devon County Council

Sunday 11th July (10am –12:30pm)

  • Purpose: to recap the range of evidence members have heard and focus members’ attention back to the key questions and the task of considering Resolutions and the Conditions that would need to be in place to encourage people to retrofit their homes and other properties.
    • Doug Eltham, Environment and Sustainability Policy Officer at Devon County Council

Prioritised principles

During block 2 the members in this workstream each identified, from the long list of principles developed by the Assembly, the 5 that they felt were most relevant in considering how to encourage, or require, people to retrofit their properties. The graph below, in this case displaying 6 priorities because of a tie vote, shows the principles that were most consistently prioritised by members for consideration when forming conclusions.

Graph showing the principles consistently prioritized by assembly members when considering their conclusions. 52% of support is in favour of solutions that will deliver the greatest impact. 52% of support is in favour of creating solutions for the long-term. 52% of support is in favour of solutions being ecidence-based. 48% of support is in favour of economic/financial fairness. 43% of support is in favour of supporting behaviour change/ 43% of support is in favour of solutions being cost-effective.
  1. Will deliver the greatest impact

Here members focused on the need to achieve large and widespread emissions reductions to really contribute to tackling the climate emergency, and were concerned that some of the schemes they had heard about appeared to be only able to support “tweaking around the edges”. They were also broadly agreed in the belief that actions focused on retrofitting needed to begin with the properties that are least energy efficient, in order to deliver the greatest reductions.

“There’s no point doing something if it doesn’t make a real difference. We need to be efficient, there not a lot of money to do this so we need the most effective measure, that the most people can do (inclusive).”

2. Creating solutions for the long term

There were concerns expressed by members that retrofitting activities needed to be focused on the long-term, and standards and expectations future proofed, if people were going to be encouraged, or required, to undertake work on their properties to reduce emissions. There was general agreement that there needed to be ambitious standards set so that people knew what they were aiming for (rather than undertaking work, only to be asked to undertake more). In some groups emphasis was also put on the need for long term, stable packages of support, rather than the short-term incentives they believed had been offered in the past.

“To reduce the impacts of climate change we really have to be in it for the long haul, and thinking about measures that don’t rely on fossil fuels, even if they are more expensive in the short term. It seems like we really need to be talking about replacing the need for gas and oil, rather than side measures like windows and insulation.”

3. Be evidence based

Here, as above, members stressed in their discussions that any action encouraged, and particularly if supported by public funding, must be able to demonstrate that it would deliver the intended emission reductions. They generally felt that there had been lots of money wasted on schemes like cavity insulation that were poorly delivered and did not deliver the promised savings to homeowners, and had little trust in companies offering retrofitting services to provide independent advice. They stressed the need for greater transparency overall and argued that people are more likely to take action if they believed there was evidence driving an initiative, including if they were able to access personalised information about how much carbon (and cost) savings different types of activities would deliver to their own properties.

“Back it up with proper facts. If you can’t measure something, it doesn’t exist. You need hard numbers and they need to be calculated the same way in different areas and over time by universities not companies. Or release all data in open access formats to everybody. With this people can make informed choices that are right for them and for the planet.”

4. Economic/financial fairness

The focus for members in these discussions was on ensuring that the types of changes expected, and particularly if required, were affordable so that people would not be pushed into significant debt in order to retain ownership of their property. Some members also highlighted that building a retrofitting sector in Devon could provide economic benefits to the area, suggesting that people in areas with high unemployment could be targeted for skill development and retraining to meet this need. There were also some concerns raised that, without support from central government to fund emission reductions from properties, the 2030, and even the 2050, targets would not be able to be met locally.

“Central Government needs to supply an adequate budget, and not waste money, otherwise in 30 years it ain’t going to happen. The costs over that time period are too great, the sums don’t add up. Banks and government need to be really creative in schemes to fit every financial pocket e.g. interest free loans, equity release schemes, subsidised materials. They need to think about fairness over the long term, including for future generations.”

5. Support behaviour change

The members concerns here echoed many of the points made above –that without financial support to make changes in the short term, and evidence of the need and effectiveness of modifications, many people are going to be unable and/or unwilling to undertake retrofitting work to reduce the emissions from their properties. Members did however acknowledge that building momentum for behaviour change will not simply be about finances –with other barriers identified including potential disruption, not wanting to change the character of a building or uncertainty about the need.

“We need to be better at getting the message across to encourage behaviour change -make it relevant to individuals. Persistent soft motivations (nudges) for people who are stuck in their ways, like they did with plastic bags, although might be easier with younger people who are generally more aware about the climate change agenda. Social pressure too will help, for example when people compare themselves with their neighbour–created culture change over time through attitude, education and support.”

6. Be cost effective

In discussions here,members returned to concerns about affordability and the need to guarantee impacts, while stressing that the choices people make regarding this can’t just be about individual circumstances.

“It worries me about focusing too much on the financial side, pushing to the cheapest option -but it may not be the best. It can’t just come down to money every time. Many people are aware of the situation, and put off by the amounts of money changes to their homes would cost without any guarantee that them doing their bit will make a real difference. We need to be thinking about collective, cooperative solutions, not just profits or savings, but the future of the planet.”

[18] Members were not able to choose the topic that they would explore. Instead groups were randomly allocated to ensure that the demographic and attitudinal diversity of the whole Assembly was replicated, as far as possible, within each workstream.
[19] Devon Climate Emergency website: https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/block-two/

In the final block of meetings Involve presented to the Assembly as a whole five proposed Resolutions that they would be asked to vote on. These Resolutions were created to cover the key questions set before this workstream, and explicitly picked up on the two encouragement / requirement policy options presented to members as being within the power of local authorities.

Working in small discussion groups, with participants from all workstreams, the members refined the Conditions that they felt needed to be in place to increase the public acceptability of the actions proposed in the Resolutions. They also worked together to write Supporting Statements that would sit alongside these Conditions to explain the rationale behind them [20].

The results of the Assembly’s final vote on the Resolutions relating to the ways of encouraging or requiring the retrofitting of properties across Devon are presented below, and illustrated by the accompanying graph. When relevant, the Resolutions are followed by the supporting Conditions and/or recommendations proposed by members, along with graphs illustrating the levels of agreement given to each by the members.

Retrofitting Resolution 1

We believe that the existing financial supports available across Devon are not effective for encouraging people to undertake the degree of retrofitting work on their properties that will be required to meet net zero targets.

Supported by 94%

A pie chart showing members support for Retrofitting resolution 1. 70% strongly support the resolution. 24% support it. 2% are not sure. 2% do not support it. 2% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“We believe that the financial support available across Devon that is designed to support or encourage people to undertake retrofitting and energy efficiency improvements on their buildings is not enough to motivate the scale of action required. We believe that more money needs to be available to support this. We also think that, while not everyone may be able to benefit from this support, access to it should be more inclusive and not just accessible by the vulnerable or fuel poor.”

Retrofitting Resolution 2

In principle, we support there being financial support available for people to retrofit properties across Devon.

Supported by 93%

A pie chart showing members support for Retrofitting resolution 2. 70% strongly support the resolution. 23% support it. 3% are not sure. 2% do not support it. 2% strongly oppose it.

Overall the members responded very positively to the intention to create a Devon based advice and information service for the public to support the aim of retrofitting properties to reduce their carbon emissions. In considering what would strengthen the impact of this service the members developed, and voted on, six Supporting Recommendations.

We believe the implementation of packages to support people to retrofit their properties would be strengthened by the following…

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.1

There needs to be more accountability and reporting regarding government expenditure on retrofitting, with ongoing progress reports that show the money spent and progress towards meeting targets.

Agreed by 94%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.1. 68% strongly agree with it. 26% agree. 6% are not sure. 0% disagree. 0% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important for the public to be sure that funds provided to support retrofitting are sufficient, efficiently allocated and are delivering proven long-term impacts and benefits for the climate and people.”

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.2

There needs to be widespread education and awareness raising about:

a) The climate emergency;

b) What actions authorities are taking; and c)What people can do to retrofit and improve energy efficiency and what impact that will have.

Agreed by 93%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.2. 74% strongly agree with it. 19% agree. 5% are not sure. 0% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it will normalise taking action around responding to the climate emergency, and acclimatise the public to the fact that it is an emergency. For retrofitting in particular it is important to help people understand there are long term benefits to be gained in their own lifetimes from making changes to their properties and using new technologies, though these types of changes do take a longer time to recuperate costs and deliver returns than some other initiatives. It will also be important that any campaign of education and awareness raising utilises different communication methods (leaflets, adverts, etc.) and effectively explains the ‘why’.”

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.3

There needs to be a centralised, Devon based, source of high-quality information regarding measures that can be taken on properties and the types of support available to people to undertake them.

Agreed by 93%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.3. 72% strongly agree with it. 21% agree. 5% are not sure. 0% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important as the concept of retrofitting, and the extent of the need for buildings across Devon to reduce their carbon emissions in order to tackle the climate emergency, is not properly understood within the wider population of Devon. In addressing this need for communication, it will be vital that the service is well publicised and easily accessible, and that people are able to access the information via a website, phone and in person.”

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.4

There needs to be personalised advice available about options for your home and any financial support you are eligible for.

Agreed by 93%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.4. 70%. 23% strongly agree with it. 5% agree. 0% are not sure. 2% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because every home is different so people will need to be able to make personalised decisions that are right for their own home. There is a risk that, without this, people will invest in renovations that will not deliver the emission reduction impacts they are hoping for. Having a service available that is able to give the right information to retrofit your home will ensure the home owner gets the right fit for their house and information about options to finance that will mean that no-one is left behind or left out of the process. Being able to get all the advice in one hit will help to make sure any push towards retrofitting is understandable and attainable for all.”

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.5

All authorities need to demonstrate ambition and allocate significant budget to retrofitting.

Agreed by 92%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.5. 41% strongly agree with it. 35% agree. 11% are not sure. 5% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important to show the seriousness of the problem and the authorities’ commitment to achieving net zero across Devon. Upfront funding is critical to support people to begin making changes that will have a long term impact. Authorities also need to show leadership by acting quickly to retrofit all of their own buildings, and ensure there is a permanently allocated budget to maintain them as net zero emitters.”

Retrofitting Supporting Recommendation 2.6

More focus needs to be given to ensuring the availability of green mortgages.

Agreed by 72%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 2.6. 55% strongly agree with it. 17% agree. 20% are not sure. 6% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because it will enable a push towards improvements and retrofit/ upgrading of properties. It will act as an incentive for all people. This is especially true if it is also linked to council tax reductions if they have a green mortgage, and also reducing business rates will act as an incentive for businesses. This also needs to be offered to people to re-mortgage to a green mortgage and on an ongoing basis if retrofitting. The green mortgage process should be simplified (in terms of paperwork) and should be widely accessible and from a range of different providers (making it less bureaucratic).”

Retrofitting Resolution 3

In principle, we support the use of regulation to require people to retrofit their property.

Supported by 62%

A pie chart showing members support for Retrofitting resolution 3. 30% strongly support the resolution. 32% support it. 12% are not sure. 12% do not support it. 14% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“We think this is reasonable because the scale of change needed to reduce the carbon emissions from building across Devon in order to reach net zero is huge. Regulation could be a way of enforcing a change in mindset: just like it isn’t optional for a building or a vehicle on the road to be unsafe, it shouldn’t be optional to not do reasonable work towards reducing emissions.”

While there was relatively low levels of support for this Resolution to require people to retrofit their property overall, the Conditions proposed by members make the reasons for their hesitations clear.

Our support for regulation to require people to undertake retrofitting would increase with the condition…


Retrofitting Condition 3.1

… that there is recognition that buildings are not all the same. The requirement, and any support to do it, needs to be targeted so the poorest rated buildings are done first.

Agreed by 89%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 3.1. 56% strongly agree with it. 33% agree. 6% are not sure. 3% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important as, while it may be quite easy to bring some buildings up to standard, it is by retrofitting the poorest performing buildings that the biggest impact on climate change can be achieved. Supports needs to be in place to help people do it without putting themselves into debt.”

Retrofitting Condition 3.2

… that affordability is taken into account.

Agreed by 88%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 3.2. 53% strongly agree with it. 35% agree. 9% are not sure. 2% disagree. 2% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because any requirement to address energy efficiency when in your property could bring with it substantial costs. Expectations therefore need to be proportionate to the property and the scale of the work required so as not to penalize people in lower socio-economic groups. There would also need to be options of support for people to help fund this element of the building work, for example grants or subsidies on materials.”

Retrofitting Condition 3.3

… that VAT is removed from specialist items used for retrofitting.

Agreed by 82%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 3.3. 55% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 11% are not sure. 2% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important as making the types of changes to your home or property that will achieve the level of lasting and effective emission reductions required for reaching net zero will be very expensive for some properties. If we don’t offer an incentive then lots of people won’t make the effort, because of the costs and interruptions to daily life required to achieve the retrofitting. People therefore need to be given support, and an incentive to invest and this could encourage people to make the investment by giving a “discount of sorts” on the materials needed. It might also mean that people may choose to use any of the money saved towards doing a little bit more, and really doing the retrofitting properly, so they didn’t have to spend more money on it on the future. It would also be a way of government signalling clearly that this is a priority for the country.”

Retrofitting Condition 3.4

… that DIY is encouraged, with experts then able to undertake an assessment of impacts and approve reduced tax rates.

Agreed by 66%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 3.4. 39% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 12% are not sure. 8% disagree. 14% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important as it will help to make some retro-fitting more affordable, whilst still ensuring standards are good. It is not always possible to find and afford specialist trades people, and people who have the skills themselves, should be able to use them to benefit their own homes and make savings. It will also be important to maintain people’s interest and understanding.”

Retrofitting Resolution 4

In principle, we support introducing policies in Devon that use planning permission to trigger the need for retrofitting measures.

Supported by 84%

A pie chart showing members support for Retrofitting resolution 4. 51% strongly support the resolution. 33% support it. 9% are not sure. 2% do not support it. 5% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“This would be a good option as it would mean that when people were already planning significant renovations or extensions to their property that planning permission approval would be dependent on making additional energy efficiency improvements at the same time.”

Our support for using planning permission as a trigger for requiring retrofitting would increase with the condition…

Retrofitting Condition 4.1

… that conservatories and permitted buildings should be included.

Agreed by 76%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 4.1. 55% strongly agree with it. 21% agree. 15% are not sure. 6% disagree. 3% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because there should not be an exception to the rule for an issue of this importance to reaching net zero. Any extension or development to a building should be built to the highest standards in order to make sure they are as energy efficient as possible, and a badly fitted conservatory could offset any good done in the rest of the building.”

Retrofitting Condition 4.2

… that the extent of retrofitting required by the planning permission would be in proportion to the size of the house and extension.

Agreed by 75%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 4.2. 48% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 20% are not sure. 2% disagree. 3% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This is important because it will ensure that any carbon emissions caused by the extension or remodelling will be negated, and steps taken towards reducing the overall carbon emissions from the property as a whole. But it also has to be fair, we don’t want to force people making small changes to have to carry out the same measures as those making larger ones, and if the property is larger the efficiency gains are likely to need to be larger. A balance needs to be found that won’t put too many people off doing the work, but will achieve carbon reduction impacts relevant to the size of property and building work undertaken.”

Retrofitting Condition 4.3

… that the energy consumption of the whole property needs to be reduced, in proportion to the size of the extension / alteration.

Agreed by 73% of members.

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 4.3. 52% strongly agree with it. 21% agree. 15% are not sure. 6% disagree. 6% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it will guarantee a proportion of the population starts retrofitting, and by getting some people to do it knowledge will spread and it will become normalised. It is also an opportunity to change mindsets and prioritise reducing emissions over creating more space or aesthetics. It will also be important that the level, or proportion, of the energy reductions required in these cases is consistent across the whole of Devon.”

Retrofitting Resolution 5

In principle, we support introducing policies in Devon that link council tax and business rates to energy efficiency performance.

Supported by 71%

A pie chart showing members support for Retrofitting resolution 5. 39% strongly support the resolution. 32% support it. 12% are not sure. 5% do not support it. 12% strongly oppose it.

Supporting statement written by members
“Linking the rate of Council Tax or business rates you pay on a property to its energy efficiency level could be a good way of incentivising people to invest in retrofitting as, once a certain level had been reached it would result in year on year savings.”

Our support for linking a property’s energy efficiency to the level of council tax and business rates paid would increase with the condition…

Retrofitting Condition 5.1

… that there is also a requirement on private landlords and social housing providers to bring properties up to a minimum level of energy efficiency.

Agreed by 85%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 5.1. 66% strongly agree with it. 19% agree. 8% are not sure. 2% disagree. 5% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important because it is the tenant who pays Council tax and if they are not able to make changes to the property themselves then they should not be made to pay more.”

Retrofitting Condition 5.2

.. that there is a simple and consistent way for the effect of energy efficiency improvements to be verified by the Council before discounts are applied.

Agreed by 75%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 5.2. 48% strongly agree with it. 27% agree. 16% are not sure. 3% disagree. 6% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members
“This will be important to ensure that work is carried out to a high standard and actually has the intended impact of improving energy efficiency levels and reducing the property’s emissions. The Council will need to have a system in place to require proof of this, and sign it off, before a rebate or discount could be claimed. The level of the retrofitting requirements will need to be consistent across the whole of Devon.”

Retrofitting Condition 5.3


…that Councils promote widely the opportunity to benefit from reductions in Council tax and business rates by increasing the energy efficiency of your property.

Agreed by 72%

A bar chart showing support for retrofitting condition 5.3. 48% strongly agree with it. 24% agree. 17% are not sure. 3% disagree. 8% strongly disagree.

Supporting statement written by members 
“It would be important that there is wide public awareness of this change so that people are motivated to take action on their properties to receive this ‘reward’. Linking energy efficiency to something like Council tax and business rates helps raise the profile of the need for change by bringing it into people’s everyday/monthly lives.” 

[20] For one of the proposed Resolutions, Resolution 2 which focussed on increased support for individuals to take action (and built on the presentation and discussions about the developing Devon Energy Advice Service), the members developed Supporting Recommendations, rather than Conditions, that they felt would strengthen the establishment of this new service.

In the final meeting of the Assembly the members had an opportunity to ‘step back’ from the specific questions they had been tasked with addressing and consider, in light of all they had heard and all they knew, what final overarching messages they wanted to send to the Devon Climate Emergency Partnership.

In discussions about what remained the biggest challenges for Devon in tackling the climate emergency key themes were identified and, in their discussion groups, members collectively drafted a series of statements in response to the prompt: If Devon is serious about tackling the climate emergency…

If Devon is serious about tackling the climate emergency…

The ‘messages’ written by the groups, and presented back to the rest of the Assembly by the members, are reproduced below. They have been grouped by theme, but are reproduced here in the members’ own words.

Communication and information

“A large media campaign is required to inform the public about the need for change.”

“Clear, unbiased information about what changes are being made, and why, must be made available to the public.”

“Communication overall needs to be much better, and needs to use a range of different media to help spread the message to everyone. It also needs to be more coordinated and the partnership should support others to make this happen.”

“Although people’s mindsets may be hard to change, we need enough initiatives in place to educate and inform the population about the need for action to address the emergency.”

“There needs to be support for individuals and communities to make informed decisions and behaviour changes, based on evidence based education and awareness of impacts.”

Community involvement and engagement

“This Assembly should just be one step in harnessing suggestions and ideas from the Devon community. Further engagement is needed to make the most the public’s creativity and ideas and keep the momentum going.”

“The Partnership need to effectively engage with communities and protect them financially while implementing changes. They must ensure that the burden of costs are not passed on to individuals and communities and the measures demanded of people are affordable.”

“Decisions should be community focused and led, with continuous feedback and avenues for amendment, to ensure a green society that functions for all.”

“All views ought to be taken into account, but we need to minimise disruption and maximise results.”

Urgency

“Start now, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but we can’t afford to delay things any longer.”

“Action needs to start soon, as Devon has been neglected by central government and the funding to make this happen properly needs to be in place fast to make addressing the climate emergency able to happen efficiently and quickly.”

“It’s urgent to start supporting Devon communities to adapt to combat climate change. People need to understand that addressing climate change is not optional, but is essential: we need to choose to change and we can all help!”

“We need to recognise that implementation of policy is getting bogged down in bureaucracy, meaning that current responses are siloed, too slow and too small. This is an emergency. If we are going to meet our net zero carbon target we need to act now!”

Ambition

“The Partnership needs to be bold, brave, ambitious and innovative. This is about planet, not politics, get on with it!”

“The Partnership needs to show long term ambition and a continual commitment to investment.”

Leadership

“Dealing with the climate crisis should not be a political issue, as it is an issue that affects the future of humankind.”

“We need strong leadership to initiate and build a momentum for change.”

“Devon should be pioneering in its policies and actions, leading like-minded counties to put pressure on central government to facilitate change.”

“Devon has to lead and not rely on central government to take action first. The Councils within the Partnership have to set an example and lead the way, while making sure to keep engaging with the public and bringing them along with them.”

Accountability

“Any additional powers utilised by local government must be held democratically accountable, and should prioritise ‘carrots’ not ‘sticks’.”

A role for central government

“There needs to be cross-party political support, at the local and national level, to achieve long term policy developments that will deliver the required outcomes.”

“The Partnership needs to put pressure on central government, because the government has a role to play in all regulatory activity, and has to be more open and honest about what needs to be done to meet net zero targets.”

“We need the Partnership to lobby central government (and local MPs) to make legislative changes at a national level on public-owned transport integration, streamlined planning to support local communities, and funding support for long-term retrofitting.”

“We need the Partnership to work to increase national government support and funding for these changes in Devon – there was support and money for Covid, this is an emergency in the same way!”

Members also had the opportunity in the final voting form to send their own individual message to the Partnership. These are reproduced, unedited and unfiltered, in Appendix B.

After each block of Assembly meetings the members were asked a series of evaluation questions to track their experience of the process and enable the delivery team to implement ideas for continuous improvement.This evaluation survey was built in to the process worksheet and, as part of completing the week’s work, all participating members completed the survey.

Overall experience of participating:

A stacked bar chart displaying how assembly members felt about their experience of taking part in the meetings of the Devon Climate Assembly. 39% of members rated their experience of week 1 'excellent'. 50% of members rated their experience of week 1 'good', 9% of members rated their experience of week 1 'average', 2% of members rated their experience of week 1 'not very good', 0% rated it 'poor'. 
38% of assembly members rated their experience of week 2 'excellent', 50% of members rated their experience of week 2 'good', 12% rated their experience of week 2 'average', 3% rated their experience of week 2 'poor'. 44% of members rated their experience of week 3 'excellent', 44% rated their experience of week 3 'good', 8% of members rated their experience of week 3 'average', 2% of members rated their experience of week 3 'not very good', and 2% of members rated their experience of week 3 'poor'.

The comments below were taken from the block 3 survey [21] to reflect members’ experience of participating in the whole Assembly process, and overall their responses were very positive.

Overall my levels of knowledge on the climate emergency has been significantly increased.

Really enjoyed both learning about new topics and discussing with new people. Thought the facilitators were really good.

Excellent presentations and efficient management of proceedings by the facilitators and organisers. Thank you all for a very interesting and important event.

I feel as though I have made a contribution in a small way to the Climate Emergency debate. I have learned a lot, enjoyed the whole experience and hope I can remain involved in some way in the future.

It was interesting to hear everyone’s opinions and it was good to feel like my opinion was heard.

I give a 4 only because face to face debate would have been much better but understand the reasons why. A good experience though.

Overall it was a very interesting, informative experience and increased my knowledge and understanding of climate change triggering a desire to explore the subject more deeply and from other angles and points of view.

Again there was really useful debate and the process has really opened my eyes to the issues around climate change and its effects.

Getting a group of people together with varied opinions is a great way to focus attention on and condense ideas on any giventopic.

It was a great experience, I learnt a lot and got made aware of the importance of taking part not only in climate change but also the discussions and taking part.

I feel that I have gained friends with like minds who hope to achieve much, despite the obstacles. I somehow feel sad that we will not meet again, perhaps we could?

There were however a small number of members, as shown in the graph above,that were less positive about the process overall.

I haven’t seen anything to make me change my mind, and there’s no money around to help people carry out these things that they say need to be done plus they need to look at the fact the whole world is off, which is causing a lot of the floods and fires but no one wanted to know that part of climate change so that’s why I gave it a 3.

One sided, selective and biased presentations and information, designed to get the answers Devon County Council want. Resolutions pre-ordained. Options excluded, alternatives not explored. This was nothing like a genuine consultation. More like Chinese democracy in action.

Frustrated our conversations were so narrow, to spend an hour discussing if rich people needed to change their light bulbs when they built an extension, seems a waste of raw material – our brains and ideas. Very little conversation about forcing new industrial units to create their own power source as part of their application.

My main gripe remains that we have been steered into a narrow set of questions, and this is not what I expected taking part in this Assembly.

Because of social distancing restrictions the Panel met online. At the end of the first block of meetings members were asked an additional question about the experience of meeting online. Overall the response was very positive.

Many of the members also took the opportunity to comment that they preferred the online experience, and may not have chosen (or been able) to participate if the meetings had been held in person.

A pie chart showing member's responses to the question 'how well do you think meeting online worked overall to support an environment for learning and discussion?' 
44% said this worked very well. 42% said this worked well.  11% said this worked 'average'. 3% said this did not work very well.

It has been fine. I am used to it and I actually feel there is more control and meetings run smoother and more respectfully.

It’s very working well and reduced our carbon footprint/no travel.

I think online meeting maybe more beneficial than actual physical meetings -it is more environmentally friendly, convenient and equal -others are given an opportunity to have a voice without fear of leaving their homes.

Think this format has worked remarkably well (with the excellent running of it) and can see this could and should be a model for future citizen involvement in other areas too.

In many ways I think meeting online was easier than travelling to a venue and having the associated moving around physically for break-out groups.

I like meeting online. It has given an opportunity to people like me who struggle to travel to participate and have my voice heard. It’s highly likely I wouldn’t of been able to participate if this was done in person.

Members were also given the opportunity to suggest ways that the process could be improved. There were a number of practical suggestions from members that were either introduced directly or time allocated in the meetings to describe to members how they could improve their Zoom experience.

Keep giving gentle reminders about when it is appropriate to use mute!

The interaction with others caused some problems for me not being able to see the group as a whole and their reactions to each other thereby unsure when to add my voice to the discussion. This could well be my inexperience of using zoom!

It’s not your fault but when the slides are presented you can’t see all of it if you keep the picture of the speaker on -I know that is ZOOM. Maybe the slides could have been adjusted before?

Some presentations were not too easy to hear as someone with limited hearing.Please use the Zoom live transcribe tool and subtitles on videos. I’m very deaf having lost volume of speech and clarity so this would help greatly [22].

There were however a few members who did express a clear preference for meeting in person, arguing that they believed the quality of the discussions would have been improved.

Zoom worked well -whilst it is not quite as effective as being in a room and debating with people face to face -it is covid safe & also it is clearly better for the environment!

Inevitably a bit one-dimensional and there’s less chance to “chat” informally but these are very important issues so it does focus people’s comments.

After the first meeting members were also asked about the support they were offered to participate as part of the on-boarding process and those who had drawn upon the support team were highly complementary.

I haven’t used zoom in this way before but I felt thoroughly supported and found the experience to be a really positive one.

Was given help in the introductory session and it was comforting to know they were on hand at all times.

I have an older computer and the camera was not up to scratch, and the team provided me with a webcam for which I am very grateful. I also had issues with joining Mentimeter, until Eddy told me I could use my phone to get in. Bingo.

Excellent with easy instructions that were understandable and not too technical.

I needed some help initially and the support group were both efficient and friendly.

They’re doing a cracking job all of them well done to them all.

Other members who had not needed direct support also commented that it was useful to know the support was there if required.

I feel that had I needed support it was readily available. A great deal of care was evident surrounding the varying technical needs of such a large group.

I didn’t have any problems but really appreciated knowing they were there and could see how much behind the scenes help was going on.

Information and evidence at the Assembly

Throughout the Assembly a range of evidence was presented to members to establish a baseline knowledge of the topics and enable members to undertake informed consideration of the questions that were put to them. At the end of each block members were asked a series of questions about the presentations they had heard during the week.

A stacked bar chart displaying to what extent assembly members agreed/disagreed that they 'learnt a lot from the presentations'. For Week 1 presentations, 35% strongly agreed; 55% agreed, 6% neither agreed nor disagreed, 2% disagreed, 2% strongly disagreed.
For week 2 presentations, 38% strongly agreed. 44% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. 6% strongly disagreed. For week 3 presentations, 32% strongly agreed. 52% agreed. 5% neither agreed nor disagreed. 9% disagreed. 1% strongly disagreed.

The comments below illustrating the members views were collected at the end of the process.

I found it very interesting and informative.

Made me much more knowledgeable about the urgency and need to tackle some very difficult areas.

I enjoyed taking part, the expert talks were interesting and it provided an insight into the problems we are facing. It has instigated lively debates in this household.

A stacked bar chart displaying how members felt about how much they understood of the information that was presented to the assembly.
During block 1, 26% of members strongly agreed that they had understood everything presented to the assembly. 62% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreedd. 3% disagreed. During block 2, 30% of members strongly agreed that they had understood everything presented to the assembly. 44% agreed. 17% neither agreed nor disagreed.6% disagreed. 3% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 41% of members felt that they had understood everything presented to the assembly. 46% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 2% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 41% of people strongly agreed that they had understood everything presented to the assembly. 46% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 2% strongly disagreed.
A stacked bar chart showing to what extent members felt that they had received enough information to participated effectively. During block 1, 33% strongly agreed that they had received enough information to participate effectively. 45% agreed. 16% neither agree nor disagree. 6% disagreed. During block 2, 29% of members strongly agreed that they had enough information to participate effectively. 55% agreed. 8% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagree. 6% strongly disagree. During block 3, 32% strongly agreed that they had enough information. to participate effectively. 55% agreed. 6% neither agree nor disagree. 5% disagree. 1% strongly disagree.

Too much complexity thrown into ‘info’ so could only pick [a] response [to] 1 subject of many [in breakout room discussions], never enough time to go into depth and fully resolve some of the problems with the info given. I suspect the presenters of ‘info’ threw as much at the wall as they could to muddy the waters, but then I’m a little jaded on the subject. All in all, hard to do better with the time given.

These are big subjects to get our heads round. I am lucky to have been able to have space to think about much of these issues, but even with that it is still a lot to take in. I guess it is a difficult balance to strike between the volume of content and how much time and space people can devote to this important matter.

The concept of slowly building both the participant’s knowledge and discussion skills, in order to set the conditions to have meaningful discussion later on, worked well (although the initial small group sessions appeared, on the face of it, rather unproductive).

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent members felt that the information they received had been fair and balanced between different viewpoints. During block 14% strongly agreed that they had received balanced and fair information. 47% agreed. 21% neither agree nor disagree. 15% disagreed. 3% strongly disagree. During block 2, 14% of members strongly agreed that they had received fair and balanced information. 41% agreed. 19% neither agreed nor disagreed. 12% disagree. 14% strongly disagree. During block 3, 20% strongly agreed that they had received balanced and fair information. 38% agreed. 20% neither agree nor disagree. 10% disagree. 12% strongly disagree.

While the majority throughout all of the meeting blocks agreed that the information presented to the Assembly was fair and balanced, this dropped in block 2, particularly in the onshore wind workstream. When asked an open question about the information they had received a small number of members commented that they would have liked to have heard from somebody living near a wind farm who objects to them.

I would personally of liked to have heard from a speaker who was against windfarms as there is a large number of those and none were represented and it would of been interesting to hear their reasons why they were so strongly against them. This would of given a more balanced view.

Whilst I am personally fully in support of wind turbines -I do feel that there was bias towards the positives – different aspects of the true impacts on communities who live nearby wind farms were not really presented or examined.

Similarly, two members also took the opportunity in the evaluation form to note that they would have liked to have heard from more speakers advocating against onshore wind farms in addition to the positives and negatives which were presented in multiple presentations.

I feel as that there were no opposing opinions shown during presentations.

More balanced opinions/presentations from the speakers. The speakers could present then explain the key counter-arguments before going on to explain if and why they don’t agree with them. Much of the time it appears that we may be being “brain washed” into an opinion that suits the desired outcome of the exercise (hopefully not the case!).

At the conclusion of each block the members were also asked about their confidence in their ability to answer the questions posed to the Assembly in an informed way. The graph below shows the member’s growing levels of confidence throughout the process in their own knowledge.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent members felt that they had received enough information to answer the assembly questions themselves. During block 1, 14% answered 'yes, definitely/ 51% answered 'yes, mostly'. 20% neither answered 'not sure'. 12% answered 'no, not really'. 3% answered 'no, not at all'. During block 2, 15% of members answered 'yes definitely'. 67% answered 'yes, mostly'.. 13% answered 'not sure'. 5% answered 'no, not really'.. During block 3, 35% answered 'yes, definitely' 58% answered 'yes mostly'. 5% answered 'not sure'. 2% answered 'no not really.
A stacked bar chart showing to what extent members felt that the assembly as a whole was able to answer the questions they were given. During block 1, 21% answered 'yes, definitely', 42% answered 'yes, mostly'. 26% answered 'not sure'. 11% answered 'no, not really. During block 2, 26% of members answered 'yes, definitely'. 47% answered 'yes, mostly'. 13% answered 'not sure'. 11% answered 'no, not really'. 3% answered 'no, not at all'.. During block 3, 35% answered 'definitely'. 44% answered 'yes, mostly'. 8% answered 'not sure'. 11% answered 'no, not really'. 2% answered 'no, not at all'

When this is compared to member’s confidence in the Assembly’s ability as a whole to answer the questions, while the same trend is apparent, the overall level of confidence is lower. This is not what you would typically expect during a process like this.

Members’ experiences in the breakout sessions


At each block the members were also asked about their experiences of the small group discussions, where they spent most of their time, to assess whether we had been able to create an environment conducive to learning and constructive, open discussion.

You are pretty well organised, it is a good idea to circulate the breakaway groups, so we get around most of the 70 participants and get a wider feedback

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent members felt comfortable to express their views in the small group discussions. During block 1, 50% strongly agreed. 43% agreed. 5% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed.During block 2 52% strongly agreed. 39% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 50% strongly agreed, 45% agreed and 5% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed.

In each of the breakout rooms there were good open discussions on all the topics.

As our understanding of the issues, and confidence in the process has increased, the breakout groups have been more dynamic and rewarding.

Everyone was very friendly and I felt it was easy to voice my opinion.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that their fellow participants respected what they had to say, even if they disagreed. During block 1 47% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed. During block 2, 42% strongly agreed. 48% agreed. 7% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. During block 3 44% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 7% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed.

In a few sessions the facilitator had difficulty stopping participants dominating and in others staying focused. In one session I tried twice to offer a contribution and was ‘passed over’. I vocalised that I felt this had happened and it didn’t happen again.

Some members of the assembly were certainly challenging at times -rude -and the facilitators remained professional in the way they dealt with the challenges!

Need to be uniformly firm with stronger characters to allow other to be heard, and to get discussions back on track.

Didn’t always have enough time before joining main group ,and allowing a few contributors too much time to talk.I know it’s tricky,but there are ways of cutting people’s opinions short without appearing rude.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people found it hard to contribute because one or more people in the small groups dominated the discussion. During block 1, 5% strongly agreed. 8% agreed. 15% neither agreed nor disagreed. 48% disagreed, 24% strongly disagreed. During block 2, 11% strongly agreed. 15% agreed. 14% neither agreed nor disagreed. 39% disagreed, 21% strongly disagreed. During block 3 8% strongly agreed. 14% agreed. 12% neither agreed nor disagreed. 42% disagreed. 24% strongly disagreed.
A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that their opinions were listened to. During block 1, 41% strongly agreed. 53% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed. During block 2, 36% strongly agreed. 53% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. 2% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 44% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed.
A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that their initial views changed or developed after listening to others. During block 1 12% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 27% neither agreed nor disagreed. 11% disagreed, 3% strongly disagreed. During block 2, 14% strongly agreed. 30% agreed. 30% neither agreed nor disagreed. 23% disagreed. 3% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 8% strongly agreed. 45% agreed. 30% neither agreed nor disagreed. 12% disagreed. 5% strongly disagreed.

Enjoyed listening to different viewpoint, even when things went off at a tangent!

The facilitators were able to get everyone back on task in a courteous manner. At times characters can be overwhelming, it might be a good idea may be to mention that each person has a minute to speak so as to give everyone a chance. the discussions are really important and engaging and understandably, but we only have a few minutes to voice our opinion. Each voice is varied.

Great experience, I found listening to the presentations and other peoples’ points of view invaluable in helping to shape my own views.

I have really enjoyed the opportunity and being able to hear a good range of personal views on this very diverse and interesting subject.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that there was enough time to discuss the issues properly. During block 1 9% strongly agreed. 27% agreed. 31% neither agreed nor disagreed. 27% disagreed, 6% strongly disagreed. During block 2, 9% strongly agreed. 33% agreed. 25% neither agreed nor disagreed. 24% disagreed. 9% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 6% strongly agreed. 33% agreed. 25% neither agreed nor disagreed. 24% disagreed. 12% strongly disagreed.

In all blocks less than half the members agreed that there was enough time to discuss all of the issues properly. While this could suggest that we tried to achieve too much within the time allowed, it can also be interpreted as members realising, as they learnt more, the complexities of the issues under discussion.

You had a lot to cover.We really needed 3 times the sessions to do each of the 3 topics fully.

Very good, just could have done with a bit more time!

I found it really interesting to hear from the other work groups about their area of research. I also felt we needed more time to fully discuss issues/ misinterpretations.

Facilitation of the small group discussions

In each survey the members were asked to assess the facilitators they had worked with throughout the block. To help them make this assessment the facilitators role was described as being: to support the group to have constructive conversations -ensuring that everyone has the chance to speak and be listened to, and keeping the discussions focussed on the task. Average results from the 9 groups members participated in are displayed in the graph to the right.

A pie chart showing the average assessment of the facilitators across all blocks. 63% rated them excellent. 29% rated them good. 5% rated them average. 1% rated them not great. 1% rated them poor. 1% rated them 'don't know'.

Absolutely brilliant! All were way above what I had imagined!

Really appreciated their work, which has been very effective.

I thought they did a great job of keeping the group focused and using our comments effectively.

They meet a challenging task with great professionalism.They worked hard and were equally good.

Some were clearly better than others. None were bad. Some could have been better at keeping discuss[ions]focused, encouraging the quieter attendees to speak up and making sure that the necessary goals were achieved before time ran out (I appreciate the latter was a challenge for the facilitators but some clearly achieved it whilst other struggled to).

The members were also asked a further series of questions to better understand how the facilitation had supported the process.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt included in the group discussions. During block 1 42% strongly agreed. 55% agreed. 3% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed. During block 2, 44% strongly agreed. 48% agreed. 3% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 3% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 47% strongly agreed. 46% agreed. 3% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 2% strongly disagreed.

Every facilitator I have had this week made me feel listened too and tried to include me in the conversations when I was being reserved.

All very personable and put me at ease.

The job was probably harder at the beginning, when participants were new to the format but they did a good job of trying to bring in the shyer speakers.

Very lovely, [they] consider everyone’s point of view. makes sure everyone is heard, but respects when there is not much to add.

They made sure to ask those not speaking much for their views but didn’t pressure them to speak which was good -well balanced.

They all respected our opinions and views. Good overall. They are neutral in the discussions and respect peoples’ views.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt respected by their group facilitator. During block 1, 53% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 0% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed. During block 2, 50% strongly agreed. 40% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 2% disagreed. During block 3, 55% strongly agreed. 35% agreed. 8% neither agreed nor disagreed. 2% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed.
A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that the facilitators ensured opposing views were considered. During block 1, 42% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 11% neither agreed nor disagreed. 0% disagreed nor strongly disagreed. During block 2, 44% strongly agreed. 47% agreed. 6% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. 0% strongly disagreed. During block 3 ,38% strongly agreed. 38% agreed. 18% neither agreed nor disagreed. 3% disagreed. 3% strongly disagreed.

Very neutral. Some facilitators tried hard to get people to think about opposing views.

Some were more open with their own opinions than others.

They are very patient and impartial well done.

A stacked bar chart showing to what extent people felt that the facilitators tried to influence the group with their own ideas. During block 1, 2% strongly agreed. 6% agreed. 9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 39% disagreed, 44% strongly disagreed. During block 2, 3% strongly agreed. 2% agreed. 12% neither agreed nor disagreed. 41% disagreed. 44% strongly disagreed. During block 3, 6% strongly agreed. 8% agreed. 8% neither agreed nor disagreed. 42% disagreed. 36% strongly disagreed.

Increased interest in climate change

In the final survey members made comments about their increased interest and/or optimism about how the county would react to the challenge of climate change.

I felt by taking part has raised my awareness of the situation we find ourselves in. Action now needs to be taken in order to achieve the aim.

For me it has been a really positive and thought provoking experience. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given this exciting opportunity to work on such a crucial project.

I felt it was a very good way to discuss an issue that faces us all but most people don’t know about the problem apart from the adverts on TV.

Future engagement

In the final survey members also had the opportunity to reflect on the potential of events like this to be used more widely to bring the public into decision making processes that affect their lives.

Great experience, would love to participate in future Assemblies (on climate change but also other local politics issues)

I’d love to do it again if possible

I have enjoyed it and will be looking out for more opportunities to take part in similar discussions. It is definitely the way forward in feeling part of the whole and not just feeling things are being done to you.

Really enjoyed it. Wish it was a proper job.

I am really pleased to have had the opportunity to participate and would relish the opportunity to do so again on other areas of concern. I think the assembly worked very well within the confines of the situation we were in. People’s assemblies have to be a positive way forward for political and other decision making processes -it is a way to prevent so much of the power imbalance residing with those with the financial where with all and connections.

[21] The comments selected to illustrate the graphs have been chosen to reflect the range of points made by the members.
[22] This request was made after the first block of meetings. It was enabled for blocks 2 and 3 and worked well.

During the first meeting of the Assembly, the lead facilitator presented some starter conversation guidelines for members to stick to during discussions. These were designed to help ensure everyone could have a positive experience working together during the Assembly.

1.One voice at a time

2.Everyone has the right to speak and be listened to

3.We can disagree (but try not to be disagreeable)

4.Step up, step back

5.What is said in the ‘zoom room’, stays in the ‘zoom room’

6.Tech problems will probably happen – be patient and supportive

Having had these presented to them, members then spent time in breakout groups developing further conversation guidelines together.

7.Ask questions!

8.Respect others’ opinions and lived experience

9.Bring your personal experiences and knowledge into the conversation

10.Discuss one topic at a time, try not to go off on a tangent

11.Listen to everyone’s view, but at the end of the day it is fine to have your opinion

12.Don’t be frightened to give your opinion, but try not to be too opinionated

13.Keep an eye on the end goal -that we’re coming up with solutions to improve the planet

14.Try to think critically and draw on evidence when giving your opinion

15.Focus on finding common ground so we can all work together

16.Recognise that it takes time to get to know each other, bounce off each other -give it time

17.Be open minded -and prepared to change your mind

These final messages to the Climate Emergency Partnership were written by members in response to the question: Now that the Assembly has completed its work, do you have any final messages for the Devon Climate Emergency Partnership in relation to tackling climate change across the county?

The responses below have been reproduced unedited in the words of the Assembly members and are presented in no particular order.

This was a generally enjoyable and eye-opening exercise, which has certainly further piqued my interest in the continual effort to make Devon a carbon-neutral county. Action is needed though, now. There needs to be:

  1. Education. The Devon Climate Assembly have clearly given decisions once educated as to the problems. Education for the public needs to be addressed in many ways, such as media in all forms, celebrity involvement, possibly a celebrity hosting a Climate Emergency positively spun TV programme, social media. It needs to be started now and ongoing. Councils could have a role in this. My council have not communicated any Climate issues with me, and should be doing so.
  2. Behaviour Changes need to be encouraged, become the social norm.
  3. Leadership. All authorities need to show leadership in this area, be it by introducing an electric fleet or retrofitting their properties. This should be widely advertised.
  4. Money. None of this is achievable without adequate funding. The government needs to be asked for grants to be in place and to remain in place.

Now let’s get it done.

I thought that the variety of people involved in the assembly was excellent and gave a good range of comment and ideas to reach the objectives. I sincerely hope that our work is respected and considered to achieve the carbon reductions for all of our futures and the improvements to our planet. Perhaps the assembly could be called the magnificent 70! should we achieve what we hope. I think that contractors should present if we have future meetings.

I have a lot to say …about 6 pages of A4 🙂 Alas nowhere to put it

Please do not let councils take control over measures; implement them centrally.

Put pressure on national government.

That carbon reducing measures need to be implemented as a matter of urgency and that early “quick wins” will serve to increase the public’s confidence in the Devon Carbon Plan.

Education, national Government finance, Action now.

Please keep in mind that these are the views of people upon which the success of the Devon Carbon Plan for a net-zero county depends. Time is of the essence; we need to act now!

Yes. With regards to retrofitting existing houses it seems pointless to enact this until developers are required by law to make all new properties meet the same new standards.

With regards to transportation. I think it unfair to add additional parking charges and increase existing ones until an affordable, reliable alternative transport solution is put in place. I also think that anyone already changing to a greener vehicle should be rewarded with lesser charges or free parking to encourage others to make the change.

Just an explanation for Roads and Mobility ‘Importance of independent authority / and charges being ringfenced’ -I think this is a great idea but don’t think that this would be an incentive for increasing parking charges and would not have any impact on increasing acceptance from the general public.

Infrastructure investment in the energy network to ensure that all energy produced is utilised is essential including energy capture of all excess power production with technologies like green Hydrogen for example.

Dedicated pedestrian/cycle lanes should be built which remove the dangers that shares spaces introduce.

Building regulations must change to ensure all new builds are constructed to the highest standards so they do not need retrofitting in the future.

I’m still not convinced that these three things would help DEVON in net zero carbon plan because of the time factor and the cost which no one really had any answers except retrofitting one cost was about 35,000 to 50,000pounds and as for the heat pumps they will never reach 50 a day, not in my life time anyway, and education is a must first and it as to be for everyone even those who can’t read and write so everyone as the chance to vote on it not just the selected few .

The biggest issue is that the majority of the people I have spoken to since being involved do not know that this is happening, there needs to be more information for the public, more advertising, use of social media and traditional radio and TV. To achieve behavioural change all the Devon communities need to be involved. The use of Zoom or Teams would allow the public to attend more of the lectures/meetings, maybe this could be a regular thing.

I hope the Assembly will be effective and promotes the urgency of the crisis.

It has to be done and if it can be done without upsetting to many applecarts then the better for the local people who live in Devon.

Yes, I believe we need to act emphatically and fast as every day we hear of disasters worldwide, all caused by global warming. Nobody is safe or unaffected by it. The problem has been accumulating over decades, people have been walking around with their eyes closed, slowly becoming complacent. We must DO SOMETHING fast and throughout the world and not just in the UK. Otherwise, our local efforts will be totally lost in the scheme of things.

I still feel that the idea of ‘ambition’ in the changes proposed is not there -disappointed.

The assembly was a positive move and worked quite well, in my opinion.

Climate change is probably the most fundamental challenge to confront us in modern times -it is a major threat to our future and it is urgent we start to act immediately -we need less talk and more doing!

Do not just rely electricity to solve global warming hydrogen powered vehicles are a much better and achievable solution for our transport needs.

The crisis is here and it needs to promoted. shout to the roof tops

Read those final statements we wrote at the end of our last session. e.g.Planet before politics etc.

Although this initial consultation has been finalised it would likely be beneficial to have regular updates and probable reappraisals as to the progress being made.

Media campaign similar to stop smoking e.g. encourage cycling signs on garage petrol pumps.

Chance for individuals to try a range of bikes e.g. for people with disabilities, tricycles, electric bikes, cargo bikes.

I would like to have a further DCA meeting in perhaps a years’ timeso that members can find out what has happened or is happening with any changes that may have happened as a result of our choices and ideas that we as a whole have put forward.

80 people with 10 ideas, make 800 ideas that Assembly did not consider-a community suggestion box is needed, perhaps an email -also I have just published my book-The EDEN Godwink-on kindle, which brings in a Devon Seagrass suggestion-sea meadows capture 35 times that of an equivalent area of trees. EU is currently funding a project to the North of Devon. I also suggested reduced building rates to companies coming to Devon who manufacture Climate Change products such as Domestic Electric storage heaters, And several other ideas, one of which actually makes money for the Council. We were not brain storming, it was a wasted opportunity. This assembly needs to meet every two years to be more effective and have a broader remit…Devon could lead the World if you wanted it to.

You have made an excellent start. Please don’t take your foot off the (electric) throttle!

Climate change is upon us WE MUST ACT NOW!

EVERYONE MUST RETROFIT, everyone must start looking for green transport with zero fossil fuel emissions.

I was really shocked and saddened to hear people who still cannot see climate change is here after such a weirdly out of sync few years.

I was saddened immensely to here country folk trying to get only the city roads narrowed and only city parking to be lessened, only the two cities to follow a Dutch or French type plan. Guess they are unable to see it is every single car owners fault car emissions are the biggest polluter in Devon then cows! The countryside and towns need to do their bit too!

This is an emergency the privileged country folk should not wrangle their way out of retrofitting a beautiful old house, nor should they refuse to pay congestion charge or pollution charges when it is a privilege to own a big land rover or Range Rover or a Jaguar or Audi etc.

Almost 50% of homes in my social housing inner city street do not own any vehicles. Those who do mostly drive ten old cars they too must change to electric, one guy who claimed to be a business man from Devon claimed the poor get huge grants already. There are no “grants” to buy a vehicle for the poor. I have been searching the government website and all I found was the disability scheme which loans a person with severe disability and only those with extreme disability to buy a cheap vehicle for £2k up to £ 4K. It seems , home owners living in the most exclusive and beautiful county do not see how privileged they are. My brother has already retro fitted his old 1461 house and apart from a box at the back it looks no different. He has been driving electric vehicles and even a car that ran on recycled cooking oil for many years yet I heard so many more people than I expected who seemed to value the old polluting ways and taxing those in cities to keep all the hard work to reach net zero away from their lives.

This cannot be yet another tax on the poor everyone must comply and change to more active transport and greener sustainable lifestyles.It is time those who earn over £35K per year start doing way more to make their carbon footprint reach zero. This climate emergency will destroy your nice old listed thatched cottage it could set alight tomorrow if we don’t ALL Act to reduce our carbon footprint to net zero now including YOU ! This is a huge emergency it is not about the country folk wriggling out of doing their bit.

The majority of expensive petrol guzzling GHG emitting 4×4 cars, farm equipment, tractors etc are owned by middle class wealthy folk who can afford to buy expensive properties Yet those folks were the very ones not wanting to pay raised parking charges or have to buy electric vehicles.

All areas in Devon would benefit by introducing a pollution charge for all petrol vehicles. It is grossly unfair that those in cities (where people tend to be a lot poorer and also drive smaller , less powerful cars for shorter distances) have to pay congestion charge while farmers and middle class country folk pay nothing while driving off road petrol and oil guzzlers for much greater distances. There appeared to be a large amount of very privileged petrol car driving house owning privileged folk who claim they couldn’t afford an electric car or to retrofit yet they can afford expensive homes in the best areas. Oxymoronic sprang to my mind because it seemed like they didn’t want to change not that they couldn’t afford to change. I’m broke don’t own anything and have almost no carbon footprint.

The majority of car companies are starting to or already produce electric cars, two people in my family already own one and they are cheaper to run and slightly cheaper to buy if you look in the right places. This is an emergency everyone must act now!Why not introduce a bedroom tax for the wealthy who have spare bedrooms and use this money to help get the poor people and the disabled and depressed in Exeter and Plymouth to get an electric bike and help them get an interview suit and cash to attend job interviews. At the minute it is the poor in inner city slum areas paying because they have a single spare room. Retrofitting huge 5 bedroom two bathroom houses will cost the council a fortune and those wealthy home owners can more than afford to pay.

Getting big corporations involved may be a good place to start as they can afford the expenses of retrofitting etc and can be used as a catalyst for the rest of the county. Lead by example.

This was a really educational and fun experience, thank you!

I’m very positive towards the future after the last few weeks of zooms and I just hope that everything suggested happens in one form or another I have a couple of comments to make:

  • Regarding the onshore wind condition relating to ‘developments bringing lasting local financial,economic, social and environmental benefits’, the supporting statement has the word ‘nice’ in it. It would be a stronger statement if the word beneficial was used instead of nice.
  • In the conditions relating to reducing car use, the idea of an independent body to be set up to oversee accountability of the revenue raised, still troubles me. Every council department already has to have its accounts independently audited at financial year end. Why add another layer of bureaucracy?

Do not delay, start now

People will need to be educated about all these measures if they are to fully appreciate the urgency of the situation and how we are all responsible for making changes. School curriculums will also need to reflect all these issues and encourage and support young people to become the next generation of designers and creators for a very different future.

Thank you for initiating this work, and engaging the public in this really interesting and useful exercise. It has been illuminating for those of us involved, both in terms of learning about climate change and the issues to consider, as well as more about how local councils, planning and politics works. Obviously we were only able to hear about and discuss a small proportion of the issues and case studies, but nonetheless, hopefully came up with useful insights/discussions re how we can tackle the climate emergency with a zero carbon approach.

Please,please,please be bold and ambitious. This is a climate emergency, but humans are slow to react until it is too late -and the ideas and strategies to get us to zero carbon are going to take time, strategic thinking, money and education to change people’s behaviour and habits and start making a difference. You really need to lead us boldly on this -engage schools/businesses/communities/public sector services -people will be behind you -and increasingly so as time goes on. Other councils will look to us. There will be pressures due to economically difficult times post-Covid, but as you have recognised, this is an EMERGENCY much bigger than any of us have experienced in the past or can envisage in the future (albeit with recent glimpses of the havoc it can cause) -please don’t give in to short-term pressures from big business, but be brave and hold your ground. Work with other councils and the national government. Use bulk-buying options to reduce prices for retrofitting and electric buses?

These discussions have shown there is a huge amount that could and should be done in terms of public education and awareness raising, to help people engage with and understand some of the difficult issues and decisions that need to be made. This needs to be a really proactive and widespread campaign, so no-one can miss it. You have a wide range of companies/businesses/public sector support -all need to be engaged and get people engaged, singing from the same hymn sheet. A centralised website with linked evidence, opportunity for the public to read and watch and engage. Myths to be dispelled. E.g.the unanimous agreement re onshore wind energy by the time the (previously split) group had heard all the evidence presented. Up-to-date and accurate information regarding options and available grants and people who are trained to do the appropriate work e.g.in retrofitting. Information on all bills, council tax bills and in school curricula. Make it easy for people to engage and change their behaviours and opinions and make real practical changes.

Money was a recurring theme throughout, and so leverage on the government will also be vital, as well as more consideration regarding legal routes to alter behaviour.

Training will be vital for expanding the workforce e.g.for retrofitting -could there be more supported apprenticeships and free/incentivised courses to get builders trained up?

Lots of talk about electric cars, which will all help, but perhaps not the most practical to scale up in a big way, significant efforts should be made to ensure the (new and expanded) public transport infrastructure is properly set up in this manner however. Big strategic thought and investment in both urban and rural public transport infrastructure (including harmonised timetables, easy affordable pay options, businesses enabling work hours compatible with public transport timetables or vice versa, and ongoing support of partial working from home where feasible).

Please lead by example -allowing still new builds where there is no requirement for installing insulation/solar/heat pumps is a heresy.

Overall, efforts to ensure that all changes are thought about in a long-term strategic way, and with an aim to also help “level up” living conditions and affordability of homes and lives and health will be vital. My support for some of the proposals/conditions were slightly guarded as I was not always convinced the proposals would not jeopardise even further some who are already really struggling to make ends meet or with their health or mobility. Please think about this and incorporate it as a central tenet in the plans, I’m not sure this came across clearly enough during the discussions.

Listen to residents, keep on assessing and reassessing progress, and try everything you can -don’t limit yourself to one solution or one point of view! Retrofitting regulation plans also really aren’t to my taste, nor do I believe they will have the desired impact (but a focus on new builds would likely be better).

There is no way that the number of vehicles will reduce unless public transport is hugely improved and become a cheap and available alternative.The only way to do this is for the government to bite the bullet and fully nationalise the buses and trains and be prepared to fund the large shortfall to provide a SERVICE repeat Service not the cash cow that transport at present provides for private sector companies.E.g.Buckfast to Exeter total cost on bus/train now £13.For a family of 4 £52.If a car is used a total of £5 only would be spent and the car is available not set on a fixed timetable.Why should anyone want to use the present system?

A problem I see in listed properties (of which Devon has plenty) is in the restriction of updating with modern materials, such as double glazing. There has to be access to cheap funds to be able to do the work required or why would people bother. Also most improvements to properties do not require planning permission but building regs. To have all these improvements check for free may also fail because of the amount of inspectors to do the checks. Where I live and asked lots of people in my area what about the wind farms the answer was it would be totally unacceptable. I liked the idea of using tidal generating electricity as seen this week off Orkney so I think we must look at all options and we still need some form of backup. But this assembly opened my eyes to the problems of getting it right before it’s too late. Cost of updating my property is beyond my means of finances so it cannot be done but I should have left the world by then. ha

Thank you for the opportunity really. One point I would raise though is that, as in the brief onshore wind display before the groups separated, I feel like it would allay many concerns for future assemblies if there was some evidence presented on why the choices made open for deliberation are the best.

I hope that such consultations accelerate changes for the better

Take time to assess the votes from the assembly. Public consultation a must. Learn to walk before you run. Too quick and costly mistakes will be made. Good luck.

Ian Bailey, Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Plymouth and member of the Net Zero Task Force

Susi Batstone, Fullabrook CIC 

Richard Betts, Climate Scientist from the Met Office

Nik Bowyer, Director of Transport Planning and Modelling at Aecom and member of the Net Zero Task Force 

Jake Burnyeat, Managing Director of Communities for Renewables

Tom Butcher, the MET Office Business Team 

Tom Cohen, Senior Lecturer on transport at the University of Westminster

Lyndis Cole, Member of the Net Zero Task Force Nicola Corrigan, Director at 361 Energy 

Laurence Couldrick, Westcountry Rivers Trust

Tom Dauben, the Environment Agency

Patrick Devine-Wright, Chair of the Net Zero Task Force and Professor at the University of Exeter

Doug Eltham, Environment and Sustainability Policy Officer at Devon County Council  Sara Gibbs, Public Health Devon

Johnny Gowdy, Director at Regen 

Chris Greener, South West Energy Unit Project Officer at Devon County Council

Nigel Hallam, Workplace Parking Levy Service Manager at Nottingham City Council

Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager, East Devon District Council Kerry Hayes, Regen and member of the Net Zero Task Force 

Jamie Hulland, Transportation Strategy & Road Safety Manager at Devon County Council Ann Hunter, InExeter

Ian Hutchcroft, Energiesprong and member of the Net Zero Task Force,  Dan Lash, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Councillor

Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council  Steve Melia, Lecturer in transport and planning at University of West England

Alastair Mumford, Corporate Energy Manager at Devon County Council Phil Norrey, Chair of the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group 

Tony Norton, Director at the Centre for Energy and the Environment at the University of Exeter 

Guy Parker, Ecologist at Wychwood Biodiversity

Will Pratt, Transportation Strategy & Road Safety Manager at Devon County Council

Emily Reed, Climate Emergency Project Manager at Devon County Council

Kate Royston, Director and Energy Advisor for Tamar Energy Community 

James Shorten, Geographer and Planner at Geo Consultants and member of the Net Zero Task Force

Guy Singh-Watson, Founder of Riverford

John Siraut, Director of Economics at Jacobs

Jessie Stevens, founder of ‘People Pedal Power’ and active within Fridays for Future, DYPF (Dartmoor Young People For Future) and Extinction Rebellion

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth

Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26

Jacqui Warren, Climate Officer from Torbay Council 

Alex Whish, Landscape Specialist with South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council 

Tom Wiersma, Northern Devon Cycling Campaign