Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting, 22nd November

Attendees

Doug Eltham, Devon County Council (Environment Group, chaired this meeting)

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust

Angus Berry, South West Water

Clare Reid, Exmoor National Park Authority

Andrew Butler, National Farmers’ Union

Emily Widdecombe, Devon Climate Emergency

Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Chris Clarke, Wales and West Utilities

Emmanuelle Marshall, Plymouth City Council

Jason Ball, Mid Devon District Council

Mark Kentell, North Devon District Council

Alex Gandy, Dartmoor National Park Authority

David Eaton, Teignbridge District Council

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

Victoria Hatfield, Exeter City Council

Janet Williams, Torridge District Council

Mark Clapham, Devon Association of Local Councils

Zoe Smith, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

David Ralph, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Apologies

Phil Norrey, Devon County Council

David Edmondson, Torbay Council

David Bartram, Exeter City Council

Emma Page, University of Exeter

Neil Hamlyn, Local Resilience Forum

Penny Tranter, Met Office

Mark Rice, Environment Agency

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Keir Duffin, Devon County Council (Economy and Enterprise)

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

2. Project Progress Report

This month the Progress Report (at the Annexe of the minutes) was not presented in full and attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions.

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report, drawing attendees’ attention to the successful funding bid for additional resource to accelerate the work of the Climate Impacts Group.

3. Revision to Next Steps for the Interim Carbon Plan

Emily Reed presented a proposal not to produce an updated version of the Interim Carbon Plan before producing the Final Carbon Plan. An updated version of the Interim Carbon Plan was expected in October, which has not been possible. This is because the resource available to the secretariat has been focussed on the climate assembly and is now responding to its recommendations. Instead, it was proposed by Emily that the partnership will continue to implement the Interim Plan as it appears on the website and we’ll amend it just the once by incorporating the consultation updates and the actions arising from the Assembly into the Final Plan after their consultation in March. The proposal is pictured in Figure 1 below:

Flowchart showing the next steps for preparing the Devon Carbon Plan. There will be a public consultation in March 2022 giving an opportunity to comment on how the Assembly's recommendations have been turned into actions. After this consultation, the Final Carbon Plan will be prepared for August 2022.
Figure 1: Next steps for preparing the Devon Carbon Plan

Chris Clarke and Harry Barton said this seemed fine so long as the partnership keeps communicating about how it is delivering the Interim Plan and makes it clear that the public still have an opportunity to have their say on how the assembly’s recommendations have been turned into actions.

David Eaton was content with the proposal and asked for a note to be circulated to the partnership to help each partner communicate this change consistently.

The Group AGREED for this proposal.

John Amosford advised checking with the DCC legal team that this decision is consistent with case law.

ACTION: Emily Reed to circulate a note to the partners to enable consistent communication about this change.

4. Responding to the Assembly’s Resolutions

Emily Reed introduced the draft actions to add to the Devon Carbon Plan in response to the Devon Climate Assembly’s resolutions. Emily asked the Response Group to sign these off in order to start the next phase in which partner organisations will share them with their elected members and senior representatives for feedback, prior to public consultation in March 2022.

Harry Barton and Andrew Butler noted that five partners had provided officer-level feedback during the first stage in addition to topic-specific feedback from the Devon Landscape Policy Officers Group and the Devon and Cornwall Planning Policy Officers Group. Harry and Andrew asked whether we need more feedback before proceeding to the next stage.

David Eaton, Victoria Hatfield, Janet Williams and Alex Gandy said they are content for the process to continue and they’ll engage officers and elected members at the same time.

The Group AGREED to move to the next stage and share the draft actions with elected members and senior representatives for feedback.

Victoria suggested a briefing note is produced for partners explaining what the secretariat need from this next stage, and a reminder of the assembly process to help with the drafting of committee papers.

ACTION: Emily Reed to prepare a briefing note.

David Ralph asked when it would be appropriate to engage the business community on these actions. Emily advised that businesses will be able to comment during the public consultation during March 2022 but that business members of the partnership can respond now.

ACTION: Emily to encourage the private sector partners to comment on the actions.

5. Monitoring the Food, Land and Sea Actions

Doug Eltham presented a proposal for the Devon Local Nature Partnership (LNP) to be considered to serve as the ‘Theme Board’ to oversee and report progress on the implementation of the actions in the Food, Land and Sea section of the Devon Carbon Plan. This is because the LNP’s goals and priority themes align well with the aims of the Food, Land and Sea section of the Plan. Furthermore, a newly-created Theme Board would need representation from the LNP membership and so it does not seem a good use of resources to make a separate body, particularly when many of the Food, Land and Sea actions will be delivered by LNP members.

The Group heard from Doug that some members of the Tactical Group believe the LNP may be felt by some stakeholders to be too focussed on nature and that this may lead to reduced engagement with the implementation of the Plan from the food and farming sectors in particular. However, this is arguably in name only. The LNP Board is chaired by Michael Winter, a professor specialising in sustainable agro-food systems, food security and the sociology of west-country agriculture.  Robin Milton, an Exmoor Hill Farmer engaged with the NFU and government, represents agriculture and food on the LNP Board. On the LNP Working Group, Paul Cottington represents the NFU and Gary Rumbold attends for the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

Andrew Butler agreed with the Tactical Group that the name of the LNP could be a problem but accepted that with clear communication about how food and farming is part of the LNP governance, this issue could be overcome. Clare Reid agreed. Andrew further mentioned that the capacity of the LNP to perform this role could be an issue.

David Ralph said the proposal seems sensible and is exactly what the LNP should be using its expertise for, as well as seizing opportunities for business, such as those surrounding carbon offsetting.

David Eaton raised a general point that will be applicable to the setup of each of the theme boards – how will sectors that feel under represented within the oversight structure of the Carbon Plan get the opportunity for more representation? Doug Eltham said that initially we would need to understand if their concerns are valid or whether it’s a communications issue, and where they are valid then we’ll have to be flexible and work out how we can address those concerns on a case by case basis.

Janet Williams reported a feeling from food and farming businesses in Torridge that the climate agenda has a misunderstanding about their role and impact. Janet suggested a sub-group to represent this sector specifically.

Jason Ball reminded the Group that the role of the LNP would be for oversight of the existing actions in the Interim Carbon Plan – their role would not be to make decisions about future activity. The LNP does have the networks in place to monitor the implementation of the actions and to understand whether the actions are achieving the desired effect to report up to the Response Group.  

Emmanuelle Marshall asked whether it’s the LNP Board or the LNP Working Group that is being considered for this role. Doug advised that it’s the Board specifically as that is where the LNP decisions are made, however it will up to the LNP to engage its wider governance structure in this monitoring and oversight role.

Harry Barton as the vice-chair of the LNP advised the Group that the opportunity for the LNP to take on this role came from a conversation between the Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) secretariat and the LNP Board about how the LNP could help with the implementation of the Carbon Plan. It’s not that the LNP is imposing itself on the DCE partnership – it just seems like a good alignment of priorities. Resourcing (as noted by Andrew Butler) could be an issue but that will be discussed with DCE secretariat and the LNP secretariat. Harry further said that he does not favour setting up further sub-groups, as arguably for fair representation purposes we need sub-groups representing all sectors affected by food, land sea aspects of the Carbon Plan, not just food and farming.

Chris Clarke noted that this could be an opportunity for more collaboration between the food and farming sector and the work of the LNP, which would ultimately benefit all parties.

The Group AGREED for the LNP to be invited to perform the function of the Theme Board for the Food, Land and Sea section of the Carbon Plan with the condition that communications need to ensure that all sectors feel part of the solution and none feel alienated.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to speak further with the LNP secretariat, share the concerns of the Response Group and extend an invitation to the LNP to perform the role of the Theme Board for Food, Land and Sea.  

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report

Period: October 2021 to November 2021

Status Indicator Key:

[RED] = Significant issue that requires Response Group intervention;

[AMBER] = Minor issue that will initially be managed by the secretariat, but the Response Group should be aware;

[GREEN] = No issue.

1. Partnership Update

1.1.  General Project Communications [GREEN]

1.1.1 Following

Following Newsletters continue to be issued on schedule and social media followings are growing. Monthly growth continues to be about 2%. We hope that with the increased availability of video content due to the COP26 Green Zone events, traffic to our YouTube channel will increase throughout the month.

Stacked horizontal bar graph showing the online communications following between September 2020 and October 2021. Total following is now almost 7,500.
Figure 1.1: Online Communications Following

1.1.2 Campaigns

Current
  • Push for greater youth involvement throughout November to take advantage of the momentum of COP26. This will involve representing voices of youth activists/young people in Devon both through social media and our website, and will involve increased collaboration with local schools.
  • Sustainable travel campaign: collaborating with Travel Devon to promote active/sustainable travel opportunities in the Southwest. We are uplifting the ‘Winter Wheelers’ campaign run by Love To Ride, and promoting other Devon County Council sustainable travel initiatives, highlighting health co-benefits.
Upcoming

Low-Carbon Christmas campaign: Pulling together advice from campaigns such as ‘shop4good’ that have been running during COP26, this campaign will focus on encouraging sustainable shopping, travelling and eating habits this Christmas. We will also be linking this to sustainable travel by reminding people to take part in the Winter Wheelers campaign.

1.1.3 Youth Engagement

The leaders of Torbay Council and Devon County Council participated in a Young People Climate Debate with the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This was hosted by Exeter College and BBC Radio Devon, and broadcast on the 5th November. This can be listened to again on BBC Sounds.

Devon Climate Emergency will also be recording an interview with a University of Exeter student who represented Devon’s Student Guild at COP26, and who will be discussing the importance of the conference for young people in Devon and writing content for our website. We also have plans to catch up with Jessie Stevens, the Devon-based youth activist who recently cycled all the way to COP26, to discuss her journey and the significance of green transport solutions in Devon.

1.1.4 COP26 Events

Devon hosted a series of events as part of the COP26 domestic campaign. Four in-person events took place, as well as the production and release of several video case studies for online sharing. Hosting a county-wide initiative has boosted a sense of collaboration around the Climate Emergency, which is highly encouraging. One of the videos highlighted the work of the DCE partnership and another provided 7 Top Tips for reducing personal carbon emissions.

We have also recorded a video interview with Peter Lefort (University of Exeter, and previously Cornwall Council) who represented the Local Authority Climate Adaptation Tool at COP26.

1.2.   Partners’ Notable Activity

Activity is recorded centrally on the Taking Action pages of the Devon Climate Emergency website. Notable activity this month is:

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update

2.1 Interim Carbon Plan [AMBER] 

Amendments continue to be made to the Interim Devon Carbon Plan by the secretariat, however this remains behind schedule. The impact of this is not significant as the Plan is being implemented and funding opportunities are being seized by partners to deliver the Plan as they arise.

2.2 Citizens’ Assembly Resolutions [GREEN] 

The secretariat ran a public webinar with Involve on the evening of the 20th October to mark the launch of the Citizens’ Assembly report.

Draft actions have been developed by the secretariat and the Tactical Group has had the opportunity to comment.

The Net-Zero Task Force has drafted a response to the partnership about the Assembly’s recommendations which has been considered by the secretariat in the drafting of the actions.

3. Climate Impacts Group Update [Amber]

The funding from the Flood Defence Grant in Aid fund to provide a 6-month resource to accelerate the preparation of the Adaptation Plan has been successful. WSP consultants have been engaged by Devon County Council to prepare a detailed work programme to get the preparation of the Adaptation Plan back on track.

4. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Interim Devon Carbon Plan while partnership procedures are ongoing
  • The revisions to the Interim Carbon Plan continue to make progress but are behind schedule.
  • The partnership is developing actions to implement the resolutions from the Citizens’ Assembly.
  • The funding application for additional resource for the Climate Impacts Group has been successful.