Summary Hearing: spatial planning, behaviour change and procurement / consumption

Devon’s rural nature makes it distinct from a planning and cultural point of view.

Communicate how climate change is relevant to everyone and create a detailed vision of life in net-zero carbon Devon.

We need to stimulate change in the economy towards net-zero carbon.

We have to massively reduce our consumption, but our lives can be better for it.

We don’t have time to wait for changes to the planning system – let’s go around it.

Planning must help communities to thrive in a net-zero carbon world, including small rural communities.

Participants

Co-Chairs

James Shorten

James is a geographer and planner at Geo Consultants with nearly 30 years of work on the planning system and sustainable development. He holds an MSc in Planning from Reading University. He was the main author of the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development Guidance.

Nik Bowyer

Nik is Chair of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation South West Region. He is an Associate Director at AECOM and specialises in strategic transport planning, modelling and transport economics. He studied Geography at the University of Exeter where he specialised in climate change, palaeoclimates and sustainability.

Hannah Lawrie

Hannah is Chair of the South West Council of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and is also an Associate Director within Ricardo Energy & Environment’s Resource Efficiency and Waste Management practice. Hannah studied Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, has 20 years’ experience within the waste management sector and specialises in waste collection, technology and infrastructure services, contracts and procurement.

Harry Bonnell

Harry is Community Project Officer at Devon Communities Together, where he works on a range of engagement and development projects across Devon.  Harry holds an MSc in ‘Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability’ from BTH University (Sweden) and has experience of facilitating grass roots processes with multi-stakeholder groups.

Witnesses

Gill Westcott

Gill is Co-Chair of Transition Exeter and a Director of New Prosperity Devon. She has a background in education for sustainability and health economics and has lived on a Devon smallholding since 1992. She is a former Chair of Cheriton Bishop Parish Council and helped found the Cheriton Bishop Community Land Trust to provide affordable homes for local people.

David Sergeant

David Sergeant is Associate Professor in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature at the University of Plymouth, and from 2018-2020 is an Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Researchers Leadership Fellow. His current research focuses on how novels, films and TV are imagining the near future, and what this can tell us about the challenges we currently face. He recently collaborated with Regen and south Devon energy communities on a project exploring the role of narrative and the imagination in facilitating change.

Michael Titchford

Michael is Head of Place at North Devon Council where he is a member of the senior management team and responsible for the Council’s planning, economic development and regeneration functions. He has recently taken on the lead officer role for the climate change and environment agenda.  A town planner by profession he has worked in economic development and regeneration roles since 1996 and been a senior manager in a wide variety of local authorities since 2005.

Tony Greenham

Tony is a Senior Fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab and was previously Director of Economics at the RSA and the Head of Finance and Economics at the New Economics Foundation. His publications include ‘People Powered Prosperity: Ultra Local Approaches to Making Poorer Places Wealthier’, ‘Where Does Money Come From? A guide to the UK monetary and banking system’ and ‘The British Business Bank: Creating good sustainable jobs’. Tony’s early career was in the City as a chartered accountant and investment banker with Barclays and Credit Suisse.

Tony is the Executive Director of South West Mutual, a regional mutual challenger bank based in Devon and serving the south west of England. The mission of South West Mutual is to support sustainable prosperity in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. Tony also is an advisor to Lion Trust Asset Management, a leading ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) strategy fund manager and sits on the steering group for the UK-wide Banking on Just Transition project which is working with major banks to ensure that appropriate finance is available for achieving a transformation to a net zero carbon economy.

Angie researches cultural shifts, specifically the pioneering edges of participation, and collaborates with future-focused organisations who want to experiment with their own answers to critical questions. Such as: How do you become more relevant to your communities and audiences? How do you invite participation and enable collaboration? How do you turn a challenge, or even a crisis, in to positive change? Angie maintains a focus on the intersection of disciplines with a particular interest in growing social capital in communities and the role of culture and food, farming and forestry in responding to climate crisis as a public health challenge.  

With over twenty years’ experience of starting and working in and for creative organisations – from micro start ups to established institutions, Angie has a track record of originating ideas, raising money and developing innovative, collaborative strategies for success. 

Deborah is a Chartered Town Planner and Chartered Surveyor with over 30 years’ experience of the public, private and voluntary sector primarily working in the South West. She is an Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service examiner and has carried out over 35 neighbourhood plan examinations and a number of hearings. She also uses her experience as an examiner to work with communities to develop their neighbourhood plans.

Elizabeth Wainwright

Elizabeth works for New Prosperity Devon. Transition Exeter and Exeter Quaker Meeting have supported the development of a new social enterprise, New Prosperity Devon, devoted to catalysing conversations and partnerships promoting an inclusive and sustainable kind of economic development for Devon.

Elizabeth has lived and worked around the world, working on and writing about community development and nature. She is the co-leader of Arukah Network, and is a Contributing Editor at The Ecologist. Elizabeth has worked with large and small non-governmental organisations in the UK, Africa and Asia, and has been Deputy Editor for the UK’s longest-running Environmental magazine, Resurgence. Elizabeth is also on the Operating Board of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship.

Ian Bailey

Ian is Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Plymouth. Ian’s research interests are in environmental policy and, in particular, carbon and other environmental markets, social debates on onshore and offshore renewable energy, waste management, and environmental justice.

Tim Jones

Tim is Chairman of the South West Business Council and Chair of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Foundation. Previously, Tim was the first Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. As a chartered surveyor, Tim has been involved for over 30 years in a wide range of property issues. Tim is now extensively involved in commercial property development across the south-west peninsula.

Jeremy Leggett

Jeremy Leggett is an award-winning energy-technology entrepreneur, and critically-acclaimed historian-futurist author whose books include The Energy of Nations and The Winning Of The Carbon War. He is founder and a director of Solarcentury, currently the fastest growing UK renewable energy company based on international sales, developer and installer of solar in more than a dozen countries on four continents, and winner of awards including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. He is also founder and chair of SolarAid, a charity set up with five percent of Solarcentury’s annual profit’s that endeavours to build solar lighting markets in Africa.

Key Points Summary

Key Outcomes

  • Devon’s largely rural nature makes it distinct from a planning and cultural point of view.
  • We won’t get the outcomes we need if the procedural criteria for investment, procurement and planning, and ultimately the institutional goals don’t elevate the importance of the climate and ecological emergency.
  • We need new financial products and mechanisms to stimulate change in the economy towards net-zero carbon.
  • We have to communicate clearly about how climate change is relevant to all of our everyday lives and more beyond technocratic jargon.
  • A collaboratively produced and detailed vision of life in net-zero carbon Devon is needed.
  • We have to massively reduce our consumption, but our lives can be better for it.
  • We don’t have time to use the existing processes for changing planning law, it will take too long.
  • Planning must actively enable communities to be viable in a net-zero carbon world, including small rural communities.

Key Actions

  • We need a price on carbon to incentivise behaviour change.
  • Criteria used to assess investments need to internalize carbon impact & non-monetary co-benefits of choices.
  • Develop and offer finance products to stimulate a just transition to net-zero.

Barriers

  • How to address justice issues of carbon pricing?
  • 60% of businesses in Devon are sole traders and can struggle with access to finance.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Create a regional mutual bank to finance just transition.
  • Devon County Council should invest more in institutions offering finance for decarbonisation. Public authorities can help use their money to supply blended finance.
  • Investment: impact of GHGs and social impact must have primacy.
  • Financial mechanisms to consider:
    • Discounts – to incentivise retrofitting, e.g. council tax discounts, business rate discounts.
    • Loans – low cost loans for improvements that need to be done.
    • Levies – to dis-incentivise carbon intensive activities.
    • Pricing – to incentivise change.
  • Communicate about climate change in everyday language.
  • Reaffirm media’s and council’s role in communicating this crisis.
  • Reframe the climate emergency in an outcome orientated way.

Barriers

  • The risk of writing a technocratic carbon plan for Devon.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Frame action on climate change in terms of benefits to lives of individuals and focus on the co-benefits.
  • Reframe the climate emergency in terms of how this changes end use consumption of products and services e.g. cooking, washing etc.
  • Realign procurement to support the transition to net-zero carbon.

Barriers

  • The financial hurdle – organisations being a certain size to get through first hurdle of the procurement process.
  • Procurement criteria – currently financial cost first, then social and environmental. Local Authorities aspire to be more sustainable and socially responsible but often it is unaffordable within current budgets.
  • Market prices are seldom an adequate guide to the full social and environmental costs and benefits of the product and services.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Increase capacity of procurement staff, so procurement can be more considered.
  • Support SMEs to bid for contracts.
  • Share good practice between organisations.
  • Creativity in delivering services e.g. of Lambeth council’s work on youth offenders, they invited in ex-youth offenders to coproduce response, had a lot of uncertainty but helped to innovate.
    • Good e.g. of procurement from Preston, redirected millions of pounds to Preston Procurement Group to share good ideas and challenges.
    • E.g. Cornwall hospital procurement of food.
  • Encourage a culture of trial and error, mitigate with open conversations with those delivering services.
  • Utilise the Public Services Act 2012 – must consider the impact of procurement.
  • We need to explain why council tax might want to go up and the benefits which will come from that.
  • The Social Value Act – how do we use that as an opportunity in councils to join dots especially on procurement.
  • Embed collaboration and listening in institutions.
  • Imagine a decarbonized Devon in detail, collectively, to help people personally invest in & feel it as possible.
  • Council to lead on taking a systems approach to the climate emergency.
  • Need to find ways to bridge conflicts and include people.
  • Focus on Devon’s cultural identity – how does that underpins the final plan.

Barriers

  • Embed collaboration and listening in institutions.
  • Imagine a decarbonized Devon in detail, collectively, to help people personally invest in & feel it as possible.
  • Council to lead on taking a systems approach to the climate emergency.
  • Need to find ways to bridge conflicts and include people.
  • Focus on Devon’s cultural identity – how does that underpins the final plan.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Different types of facilitation.
  • Develop a narrative about how life could look in the Devon Carbon Plan.
  • There is an interesting role for the arts to play in cultural disruption. e.g. in Calgary, artists have been embedded in planning agencies.
  • Work of Nina Simon cited as relevant.
  • Move planning beyond incremental – longer view objectives needed.
  • Actively plan for sustainable communities.
  • Protect urban green spaces.
  • Invest in natural capital.
  • Increase support for local plans – move beyond housing. Help communities to be more ambitious for green infrastructure & balanced communities.
  • Give communities stronger “permission to act” signals – incl. permission to fail & take risks.
  • We need to be experimenting and innovating and then if it works mainstream these things.
  • Connect planning with wider land use strategy.

Barriers

  • Local ability vs national to give power back locally.
  • Speed – typically it takes 8 to 10 years to develop planning plans but we need to speed this up.
  • National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is problematic – how can we give officers the right to reject developments given that we are now in an emergency, given the risk of overturn at appeal. Local authorities are subject to the risk of legal objections and the cost of this.
  • Land value is high.
  • Danger that regional planning is driven just by the cities and their needs rather than accounting for rural needs as well.
  • Planning officers in the system don’t necessarily consider the bigger picture.
  • Planning is very urban focused and doesn’t tie in with wider land use strategy coherently.
  • A lack of training and support to take on a wider perspective through planning, so if you’re a highway person you take a highways perspective rather than the wider picture.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Support planners to be more ambitious e.g. align appeal process to also account for the climate emergency.
  • Inspectors given guidance to take into account how the local authority came to the decision.
  • Focus on viable scale for communities – so there can be local schools and other services to allow low travel lifestyles. This might mean permitting more housing in villages.
  • Allow % of people living in rural areas to grow – to make it more viable to feed people in zero-carbon ways.
  • We need to work with communities in a less paternalistic way – as principle of engagement.
  • Staff having the time and resources to lift head up to see the wider picture is key.
  • Could planning exercise Citizens Jury?
  • Integrate planning in a wider land use strategy.
  • “Plug leaks” in communities – services, economy…
  • Support regenerative agriculture.
  • Co-produce services with community.
  • Acknowledge constraints of poverty on many people’s lives.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Help communities identify their epi-centre as loci for change.
  • Land users need permission to innovate & fail on way to regenerative agriculture.
  • Use asset-based approaches in communities.
  • Locate the conversations around climate change in our local economies & their challenges e.g. dominance of visitor economy.
  • Be honest that we need to reduce consumption massively.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Keep benefits for the individual at forefront.
  • We must mobilize people in the spirit of emergency response e.g. like war response.
  • We must engage people as whole people, not fragment people as professional and personal selves.

Download PDF summary of the key outcomes here.

Watch the entire hearing on YouTube here.