Tactical Group Meeting 9th July

Devon Climate Emergency Tactical Group minutes of meeting 9th July 2020.
You can download a PDF of the minutes here.

Attendees

Doug Eltham | Devon County Council
Andy Seaman |University of Exeter
David Rose | South West Water
John Amosford | Public Health Devon
Emily Reed | Devon Climate Emergency
Alex Gandy | Dartmoor National Park Authority
John Golding | East Devon District Council
Lynda Wookey | University of Exeter and Exeter City Futures
Janet Williams | Torridge District Council
Sarah Higgins | North Devon District Council
Adam Williams | South Hams and West Devon District Council
Nicki Collas | Devon and Cornwall Police
Harry Barton | Devon Wildlife Trust

Apologies

Richard Merrifield | Public Health Devon
Ellie Rowlands | Devon Climate Emergency

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes were AGREED to be a true record of the discussion.

Harry asked for his apologies to be noted for the June meeting.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1  Project Management and Communications Update

Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

The letter sent to the Prime Minister calling for a green COVID recovery is available at https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/dce-letter-to-boris-johnson/

The Group discussed the COVID recovery measures being released by Government. The Group felt that the strategic road building schemes don’t necessarily align with a green recovery and asked if any are proposed for Devon.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to discuss with Devon County Council’s Transport Planning Team

The Group discussed the outcome of the planning appeal against the refusal of the gas peaking-plant in East Devon and its broader implications for the ability of existing planning policy to respond to the climate emergency.

2.2  Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

Since May, DCE partners have been working closely to provide feedback to the Net-Zero Task Force on the actions that are earmarked for inclusion in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan and troubleshooting any potential issues with future delivery. This is a critical stage of the Plan’s development as the partners have to feel they can support the contents of the Plan in order to be part of its implementation. These meetings with partners need to be concluded by the end of July.

ACTION: All partners who have net yet arranged a meeting with Emily Reed and would like to discuss the draft actions, please do so as soon as possible.

Understandably, this process has taken longer than originally planned as many partner organisations have been involved in the response to COVID-19. This is a risk we have been monitoring since March that is now an issue.  Synthesising the feedback, subsequently amending the actions and discussing these with the Task Force is also taking longer than originally anticipated. This delay carries through to the next stage of being able to arrive at an agreed list of actions in order to indicate their priority and timing and to present them within a coherent Plan.   

Emily Reed asked the Group for their feedback on a proposal for a three-month extension. This would result in a draft Plan being available to partners by the week commencing 5th October and the public consultation starting 2 months later on the 7th December, running for 12 weeks to the 1st March. We will endeavour to meet these milestones earlier, but it is imperative that partners have had the opportunity to influence the Plan that they will be part of implementing.

The Group endorsed this proposal and agreed that communities must be kept informed of the reprioritised resources and new projects that are being implemented across Devon to address the climate emergency whilst the Plan is being developed.

This proposal for a three-month extension will be discussed with the Task Force at its meeting on the 13th July, revised accordingly and submitted to the Response Group on the 23rd July for approval.

2.3  Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

3. Opportunities

The Group considered a proposal from one of the Senior Advisors to the Committee on Climate Change to participate in a Place-based Climate Action Network research project into the effectiveness of partnership working on climate issues in locations that have the two-tier local government system. The purpose is to help other areas similar to Devon with cooperation on this topic.

The Group agreed that Devon should be named in the research proposal and will be happy to participate in workshops and interviews.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to notify the researcher that Devon is pleased to be part of the research bid.  

4. Local Updates from Members

Some members provided an update on their activity to address the climate emergency locally.

  • South West Water – Ofwat is consulting with water companies about putting a requirement on them to report embodied carbon as well as operational carbon.  Roadford reservoir pumping station is receiving a direct wire from a wind turbine. Working to connect the Exeter energy from waste facility to the Countess Wear sewage treatment works.
  • Devon Wildlife Trust – The Wildlife Trusts have produced a document explaining how nature’s recovery is essential for tackling the climate crisis
  • Torbay Council [via email] – Climate Emergency Officer post is now being advertised https://www.torbay.gov.uk/council/jobs/applying-for-a-job/
  • Devon and Cornwall Police – Recruiting into a new post to help further with corporate carbon reduction

5. Any other Business

Alex Gandy noted that on the 19th June 2020 the Devon County Council Investment and Pension Fund Committee received a report summarising the carbon footprint of the Devon Pension Fund’s investments. Between March and December 2019, the fund’s carbon intensity (including the carbon emissions associate with the use of the products produced by the invested companies) reduced by 21.5% and the management organisation has committed to reduce this by a further 7% each year for the next two years before a further review.

6. Next meeting

August 5th, 10 – 11.  Meeting invitations have been sent.

Appendix 1 – PROJECT PROGRESS REPORT

Period: Jun – Jul 2020

Status Indicator key:

Red = Serious 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. Project Management Update

1.1.Activity Over the Past Month

ActivityRAG
Project Communications   Working with the new website contractor to develop the new website, including how the Carbon Plan will be presented in an interactive and engaging style. Photo competition has been launched, asking people to submit photos of what a net-zero Devon looks like to them – the winning photos will be used on the new website.   In the meantime, the existing website has been enhanced.   Social media following continues to grow as does subscribers to the newsletter – now approx. 1300.Green
Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration   Awaiting Cornwall Council to publish its consultation findings on their draft Climate Change Development Plan Document. This will provide an opportunity for Devon authorities to learn from Cornwall’s approach.   Devon Planning Officers’ Group to meet with James Shorten, the planning lead on the Net-Zero Task Force, on the 15th July.   The gas peaking-plant proposed near Exmouth that was refused planning permission by East Devon District Council was allowed at appeal. The inspector’s report highlights the following: The local climate declarations cannot be used in an ‘emergency’ fashion to override adopted planning policy. The NPPF advocates “sustainable development” in the way it’s traditionally been thought about and taught – the “Three Pillars” definition and the Venn diagram of economy, society and environment given equal weight in decisions to achieve sustainability. Therefore this is the approach the inspector had to take, but there is a growing consensus that this is outdated. Instead, the doughnut economics model is more current but not widely implemented – this puts planetary boundaries as the ceiling of economic activity, which must provide for social needs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doughnut_%28economic_model%29 The East Devon Local Plan Strategy 3 does advocate the need to “minimise fossil fuel use”, but linked to point 2 above, the inspector considered this within the planning balance to deliver the “Three Pillars” model of sustainable development, rather than prioritising climate concerns over others. So irrespective of how strong local planning policy is on climate objectives, decisions will always be taken in-line with the approach in the NPPF.   Substantial weight was given by the inspector to the national policy statements that currently advocate the use of fossil fuel in the transition to net-zero – so these have not kept pace with the sector and the technology now available, as it’s clear from within the energy industry that we don’t need fossil fuel peaking plant.  Green
Covid Reset Partners collaborated on a letter to the Prime Minister and his relevant Cabinet ministers supporting the investment priorities identified by the Committee on Climate Change. This has been sent.   Councils have implemented and consulted on temporary highways measures to encourage active travel and enable social distancing in various settlements across the county.   The Team Devon COVID-19 Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus has been published. A full report to accompany it is due shortly. This reflects key actions in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan alongside other economic and social imperatives.  Green

1.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Project Communications

  • Development of ‘Website Phase 2’ will continue.
  • Photos for the new website will be selected and publicly highlighted
  • Further social media content around the upcoming Interim Devon Carbon Plan will be developed and shared
  • Social media content to be developed surrounding what work is already happening – eg Solar Together and work of the partner organisations.

Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration

  • Await the consultation responses from Cornwall Council on their Climate Change DPD. 
  • James Shorten, member of the Net Zero Task Force, will be meeting with the Devon Planning Officers’ Group. 

Covid Reset

  • A full report on the Economy and Business Recovery will be published.

2.Net-Zero Task Force Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan, including consideration of the earliest credible date that should be set for net-zero emissions.

2.1.Activity Over the Past Month

ActivityRAG
Citizens’ Assembly The University of Exeter offered to research the effectiveness of online deliberations to understand whether the Devon Climate Assembly could move online given the continued uncertainty over mass gatherings. This work will complete in September.  Amber
Developing the Carbon Plan   The Task Force continues to synthesise the key actions for the Version 1 Carbon Plan and its structure is taking shape.   The Centre for Energy and Environment at the University of Exeter has completed an initial assessment of the potential carbon impact and ease-of-implementation of each action. This has involved quantification where possible but a scale of 1 – 3 has been used in most cases. The University has also prepared a draft pathway diagram for the Built Environment section to show when actions need to occur to meet the timetable of the Committee on Climate Change scenario. This has been successful and other sections will be drawn-up in due course. The Task Force is now reviewing these outputs with the University.   In-depth meetings with each of the project partners and the secretariat are continuing to get feedback on the draft actions and to identify issues for implementation. Thank you to all of the partners for their time so far.   ISSUE: The draft Interim Carbon Plan will not be ready by the end of July.Red

2.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Citizens’ Assembly

  • The university’s research on the effectiveness of online deliberation will begin.  

Developing the Carbon Plan

Assuming the revised timetable is accepted…

  • Finalise the assessment of the carbon saving potential of the actions with the Task Force. Once complete, use this analysis to help prioritise actions further.
  • The secretariat will complete the meetings with project partners to discuss the actions.  
  • Drafting of the Carbon Plan text will continue.

3.Climate Impacts Group Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To work collaboratively with the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly climate emergency projects operating in each of the three localities to use its expertise to help:

  • prepare communities for the necessary adaptations to infrastructure, services and behaviours that will be required to respond to a warmer world.
  • improve the resilience of the natural environment against the effects of climate change

3.1.Activity Over the Past Month

ActivityRAG
Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change   Narratives on: Flood and coastal risk (led by the Environment Agency)Health (led by Public Health England)The natural environment (led by the Local Nature Partnership with the Westcountry Rivers Trust)   are expected by mid-July, which is a slight delay due to partners’ focus on the immediate Covid response.   Then, the social and economic commentary will be added by the University of Exeter potentially by the middle of August.Amber
Timetable for the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Plan The Group’s proposed timetable for a draft plan to be prepared for consultation in March 2021 and a final plan available for organisations to endorse from July 2021 was accepted by the Response Group.Green

3.2.Activity Expected Next Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

The narratives will be finalised and the University of Exeter will begin its commentary on wider social and economic issues.

4.Summary Comments

The Devon Carbon Plan is now in a phase of assembling and writing the Plan. Vital feedback from the partners that will be implementing much of the Plan will be ongoing through to the end of July. Whilst the recommended delay to the timetable is frustrating, the discussions now will make the adoption and implementation of the Plan easier.

The Climate Impacts Group continues to complete the impact narratives.

The project is continuing to make progress despite the Covid-19 resource restrictions.