Net Zero Task Force Minutes 16th March 2020

Net Zero Task Force Draft Minutes 16th March 2020. Download a PDF version of the minutes here.


Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Kerry Hayes
Gill Westcott
Harry Bonnell
Nik Bowyer
James Shorten
Hannah Lawrie
Ian Hutchcroft
Sue Goodfellow
Tim Jones
Ellie Rowlands
Emily Reed
Doug Eltham
Laura Cardenas
Lyndis Cole


Cornelia Guell
Ian Bailey
Iain Stewart

1) Minutes of the Previous Meeting  

It was AGREED that the minutes are a true record of the discussion. 

Outstanding actions carried over from the February Task Force:  

ACTION: Tim, James and Ian to write up their presentation notes on the Built Environment and circulate. 

ACTION: Find out about opportunities for creating Hydrogen in Devon. 

ACTION: Tim Jones to clarify his thoughts on developing an asset register and let Emily know. 

ACTION: Emily to map discussion in the Task Force meeting onto a levers matrix – using the Committee on Climate Change report on levers for action – This is ongoing. 

ACTION: Kerry to write up her thoughts on the National Assembly and ideas that should be carried into our own. 

ACTION: Ellie to raise issue of renumeration for citizens assembly through comms – highlighting the inconsistent nature of how this might be dealt with and the lack of policy on this. See email which Patrick forwarded regarding this. 

2) Updates on new information relevant to the Net-Zero agenda in Devon  

Patrick highlighted the report Bristol net zero by 2030: The evidence baseby the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the different approach it takes to Tony’s report. 

Patrick raised the potential impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the momentum of the climate change agenda, but also the immediate impact on emissions. 

Tim Jones highlighted the latest government budget announcements and the overt support for carbon capture, but the lack of weight in this and other areas, such as energy efficiency and gas. Patrick and Nik voiced their disappointment in the approach of the budget to travel. 

ACTION: Those in the Task Force with capacity share their analysis of the budget in relation to climate change and highlight funding & R&D opportunities arising. This can be drafted either individually or in thematic groups. It was decided that we will decide whether this will be a public document or not once drafted. 

ACTION: Sue, Gill and Lyndis to look at the Agriculture and Environment Bill and report back to the Task Force what the opportunities and barriers for the Devon Carbon Plan are in the emerging legislation. 

ACTION: April agenda to include updates on national policy. 

Emily informed the Task Force of a request from Transition Town Totnes for endorsement to support a funding bid they are making. 

ACTION: Emily to share information about the Transition Town Totnes project for the consideration of the Task Force and to draft a letter of endorsement, to be sent if the Task Force endorses. 

Concerns were raised by Tim and Patrick about the strategic role of the Task Force in these cases and the precedent of giving endorsements; they want to better understand the implications of it first.  

3) Chairs of hearings gave short summary presentations.

Presentations to highlight:

  • (i) particular change options and/or ‘hard choices’ that could be implemented to drive ambitious emissions cuts 
  • (ii) which are the most impactful options
  • (iii) levers within Devon and who they sit with 
  • (iv) any further information required. 

 A) Food, Land and Sea: I & II (Gill and Laura) 

See circulated notes of the presentation. 

ACTION: Laura asked for an assessment of what we can achieve with each measure in terms of carbon savings and prioritise accordingly. This includes assessing what is needed to replace the nutritional value of meat in peoples diet and the land use impact of this. 

Sue highlighted the need to make sure we have strategically placed land use to maximise adaptation and achieve multiple benefits simultaneously. Lyndis seconded this.

B) Mobility (Nik and Kerry) 

Please see notes circulated by Nik for a full record.  

ACTION: Nik to arrange to meet with James and Lyndis to discuss the spatial framework further. 

Tim raised the concern that we must not take a stick only approach and must consider the wider implications of sticks. Patrick agreed the importance of considering what we can promote and where the opportunities will be. 

 C) The Built Environment (Tim, James and Ian) 

Ian highlighted that we need to focus on actions we can deliver ourselves – therefore Ian identified the below as priorities: 

  • The retrofit of existing buildings: 
  • Homes are the largest sector and there are big co-benefits to retrofit 
  • Develop a market that can deliver the retrofit needed, e.g. Energiesprong 
  • Establish an advice service that links to trusted sources and is available at trigger points e.g. if a kitchen is being redone then the walls are dealt with first 
  • Commercial buildings will require a more bespoke service given their lack of uniformity 
  • New builds: all should be built as net-zero asap, however this is a “hard choice”. 

Doug highlighted that at the citizens assembly we will need to present a range of options to addressing and delivering the change needed. 

ACTION: Tim requested further evidence be considered from a professional practice forum, such as a developer forum, to get their input. 

Tim highlighted the need for us to utilise building management data better. 

James spoke on planning: 

  • We need to be clear on the purpose of planning, as a strategic piece to reorganise society towards net-zero living 
  • Planning needs to know how to properly assess developments against the requirement to be net-zero 
  • How quickly should the requirement for all buildings to be net-zero be introduced? Is now soon enough? Net-zero must be a top priority in planning 
  • We need to consider the geography of the situation, including a renaissance of the rural and the importance of linkage and networks 
  • Behaviour change must be recognised as a necessity 
  • We need research to support planning decisions, so that we have an evidence base to say that certain planning strategies and decisions deliver certain outcomes, rather than relying on hunch 
  • The process must be democratic 

ACTION: James to share the Catapult report. 

D) Energy and Waste (Kerry and Hannah) 

Please see the circulated notes from Kerry and Hannah for a full record. 

ACTION: Ensure wastewater is considered. 

Laura raised need to assess impact, cost and a qualitative assessment of barriers and opportunities. 

E) Cross Cutting Themes (Harry, Nik, Hannah and James)  

Not covered at this meeting. 

Sue highlighted need to look at cross cutting wins and actions.  

ACTION: Emily to arrange some shorter thematic meetings for Task Force Membersbefore the next Task Force meeting. This responds to a request by James for smaller meetings by theme to move the agenda forward. 

ACTION: Thematic chairs, with the support of Emily and Doug, to synthesize all existing summaries to move to key actions. Distinguish between national and local levers, as well as identifying the most impactful actions and opportunities for early wins. Include inspirational examples and case studies where possible e.g. Utrect planning a car free neighbourhood.  

ACTION: Following the identification of actions, as described above, with the chairs Doug and Emily will assess the potential carbon savings, cost and barriers and opportunities. 

ACTION: Emily to arrange a conference call with Patrick, Doug, Tim Jones and James, to consider how to take a more systemic analysis of how the actions emerging are linked together.  

4) Citizens Assembly (Doug) 

A) Procurement update 

Procurement is underway, with evaluation of tenders occurring this week and moderation occurring the following week. Doug highlighted the risk that the coronavirus outbreak poses to the procurement process, given that public gatherings might be banned imminently and the difficulty of knowing how long this would last. 

B) Suggestions for an independent chair of the Citizens Assembly 

ACTION: Task Force members to nominate independent chairs for the Citizens’ Assembly.  

5) Using the climate emergency as a material planning consideration. (Doug) 

Doug reported back on progress which has been made through conversations with the the chair of the Exeter Low Carbon Task Force and the chair of the Devon Planning Officers Group: 

  • a. Research of other localities considering or doing similar things.
    • The issue was taken to a series of forums, in the South West predominantly. The outcome of these conversations is that Devon is best placed regionally to take a lead on exploring this issue and to keep other county areas informed.
  • b. A legal review of any powers available to local authorities to use the climate emergency as a material planning consideration immediately AND
  • c. A legal review of the implications of doing so, in terms of what would happen in the formal appeals processes
    • Doug has compiled a list of examples which demonstrate that planning committees are beginning to use the climate emergency as a material planning consideration. The advice which has emerged from the Devon Planning Officers Group is not to undertake a legal commission at this time, but instead ask the South West Development Managers Officers Group to monitor and collate evidence of the passage of these applications through the appeals process and distribute this information.
  • d. Deeper consideration of the implications for tangential issues, such as the provision of affordable housing, accessibility, prosperity and energy resilience if a halt was put on carbon-intensive development immediately.
    • The DCERG has been recommended to mandate the Exeter Low Carbon Task Force to convene a workshop to identify the unintended consequences

James suggested that the South West produce a quick interim planning policy, such as supplementary planning guidance.

ACTION: James and Doug to speak about options for interim planning policy. 

6) Further discussion on holding outreach events: 

It was decided that given the current public health situation outreach events would need to be delivered by webinar rather than in person. 

ACTION: Re-convene in a month to discuss the format and purpose of the web-based events and hold all public events until then. 

 7) Communications update (Ellie) 

A) How to better include North Devon 

Ellie spoke with regret that the current coronavirus outbreak means that we won’t be able to physically hold an event in North Devon for the foreseeable future, however Ellie and Emily will keep in touch with officers and community groups in North Devon to identify communications opportunities to shout about the vibrant climate change response which is occurring there. 

 8) An approach to drafting the Devon Carbon Plan (James) 

James proposed a typology for Devon settlements as a framework for attributing the differing priorities for different parts of Devon.  

Gill stated that she liked the approach but that not all ideas for actions needing to occur are inherently spatial.  

ACTION: James to work to further resolve the typology, with support from Lyndis and Emily. 

9) National Parks in Devon (James) 

James outlined why national parks have a particular role in delivering a Net Zero Devon due to their statutory responsibilities. 

ACTION: Define what implications protected landscapes have for a Net-Zero Devon. 

ACTION: Tim to share information about his exploration of the barriers and opportunities relating to the ownership of assets in the National Parks, in relation to natural capital restoration and preservation, and financial mechanisms to support this. 

10) Finish