TDC debate Ecological Emergency

Teignbridge District council are to debate an Ecological Emergency declaration tomorrow Wednesday 30th September 2020 at 10:00am at the Full Council Meeting.

You can watch it live on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/TeignbridgeDC/videos. The video will be posted once the meeting starts.

You can read the full text of the motion here.

New Government Proposals impose 1532 houses a year on Teignbridge

The government is conducting a consultation entitled “Changes to The Current Planning System”, which include proposed changes to the formula for calculation of housing numbers.

When applied to 2020 this formula requires 1532 houses a year, whereas the previous formula required 760 houses.

Summary of our concerns

  • The absence of parallel policies to limit the significant increase in GHG emissions goes against the UK’s Paris commitments on Climate Change
  • Extrapolating historic growth to predict future demand is unsustainable, unrealistic and unnecessary
  • Undue weight is given to workplace affordability now and 10 years ago
  • The Workplace Affordability Criteria proposed is likely to build houses in the wrong places and increase commuter miles
  • Workplace affordability does not take into account the major projected growth which is in pensioner households.
  • The assumption that house prices are simply determined by supply/demand is misguided
  • Imposing significant government targets to the housing market without safeguards or limits is likely to exacerbate boom/bust cycles
  • A rushed consultation for a policy change with significant impact on some local communities

What is the formula

The formula is calculated from:

An annual baseline is set by dividing the growth in household numbers over 10 years by 10.

This baseline is multiplied by an adjustment derived from workplace affordability and the difference between workplace affordability now and 10 years earlier.

The formula is designed to add at least 300,000 new houses per year in England.

Full details of the formula and a worked example are given in our detailed paper.

Growth in household numbers

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ONS project a 7,920 growth in Teignbridge household numbers between 2020 and 2030. The chart on the right shows that the majority of these will be pensioners. Of those who are of working age it is likely that a significant proportion will be commuters.

Growth of 7920 over 10 years gives an annual baseline of 792 houses.

Workplace affordability

Workplace affordability is median house prices divided by median workplace earnings. So is a measure of the relationship of house prices in Teignbridge to pay in Teignbridge. The following chart shows the workplace affordability now and 10 years ago over the last few years:

Both now and 10 years ago affordability has been falling, which means that houses are becoming more affordable. 10 years ago we were recovering from a financial crisis and in 2010 after the general election the housing market stalled, causing a low in house prices and so affordability.

The government’s stated purpose in to have a formula which is reactive to deterioration in affordability in areas that are growing, such as areas of the Northern Powerhouse. Comparison with 10 years ago in this case fails because slight changes now are dwarfed by big changes 10 years ago.

The adjustments calculated using affordability over the last few years are shown below:

The adjustment varies considerably from year to year and does not have to have a relationship to recent changes in availability.

As many worker commute out of the district and the majority of household growth is in the older non-working population, we don’t think that workplace affordability is an appropriate measure.

Age based affordability

We have calculated affordability for pensioners aged under 75, and those aged 75 and over, based on median gross incomes for England. Currently pensioner incomes in the South West are higher that nationally:

This suggests that affordability for older pensioners is about the same as for the working population, but affordability is substantially lower for younger pensioners. This only considers earnings, it does not consider the larger capital resources that pensioners can have in housing, pensions and other investments.

Residential Affordability

Residential earnings are the earnings of residents of a district.

Residential affordability is median house price divided by median residential earnings.

ONS also publish median residential earnings for each financial year, so we can compare median residential and workplace earnings.

Residential earnings for Teignbridge are consistently higher that workplace earnings.

Comparison with Exeter

We have also considered the relationship of residential and workplace earnings in Exeter, and see an opposite relationship:

Here residential earnings are lower than workplace earnings, though recently the two have converged.

The effect of using residential earnings, rather than workplace earnings would be to make affordability lower in Teignbridge, and in earlier years higher in Exeter. This would result in more houses in Exeter and fewer in Teignbridge.

This would mean that more people who worked in Exeter lived in Exeter, so there would be less commuting, which would be likely to be by car.

What has this to do with climate change?

When a traditionally built house is constructed there are about 60tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (t CO2e) of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Building 1532 additional houses would cause embedded emissions of 93kT CO2e which is about half Teignbridge’s domestic emissions of 182kT CO2e (for 2018). On this basis the previous formula’s 760 houses would have emitted 46kT CO2e.

We have also demonstrated that using residential earnings would lead to more homes being built in areas with high earnings, which would lead to less commuting.

In 2018 road transport emissions for Teignbridge were 402 ktCO2e of which 329.8 ktCO2e were on A roads and motorways. These roads account for 45% of all emissions produced in Teignbridge.

The following map shows these emissions allocated according to traffic flows in the road network in Teignbridge.

An interactive version of this map can be found here.

Are 300,000 houses per year needed

ONS project that between 2020 and 2030 1.6 million households will be formed in England, nowhere near 3 million.

The consultation says: “The Government has based the proposed new approach on a number of principles for reform. These include ensuring that the new standard method delivers a number nationally that is consistent with the commitment to plan for the delivery of 300,000 new homes a year, a focus on achieving a more appropriate distribution of homes, and on targeting more homes into areas where they are least affordable.” 

So the new standard method for calculating housing numbers takes into account existing housing stock, as well as projected household growth. It also puts more emphasis on affordability by taking into account changes over time, and it inflates the final number by removing the 40% cap that currently applies.

Building 300,000 houses a year, rather than 160,000 means that 140,000 extra houses will be built. Using 60t per house, embedded emissions from these additional houses will be 8.4Mt , UK GHG emissions in 2019 were 351.5Mt, so this is unnecessary housebuilding could add 2.4% to UK emissions each year.

It would be better to reduce new housing numbers, and divert building trades resources to retro-fitting existing buildings so that these are as energy efficient as possible.

Research by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence provides an alternative, and in our view more plausible explanation of the causes. Housing evidence has calculated that there were 1.12million surplus houses by March 2018, and that taking this into account net additions to housing stock exceed household formations.

In Teignbridge, since compatible records began in 2001, 497 houses have been completed than households formed. In addition there have been changes of use, conversions and retrofits that have effectively increased the housing stock, that are not counted in new build housing numbers.

In Teignbridge it is doubtful that building more houses will have much effect on affordability, because the majority of new housing that is built is out of reach for people on Teignbridge median earnings, and will mainly be bought by people whose income comes from outside the district. If house prices were to drop such that development was unprofitable, developers would just stop building and wait for the situation to correct.

We agree that tackling some of the other causes would be more effective:

  • Privatisation of council housing
  • Relaxation of restrictions on buy to let mortgages
  • Low median incomes
  • The lack of income progression recently in early careers.
  • Difficulty of accessing mortgage finance.
  • Competition with buy-to-let landlords.
  • Speculative purchase of housing as an investment asset, particularly by foreign buyers.

Unfortunately the government is intent on building 300,000 houses a year, so the consultation doesn’t offer much opportunity to comment on that.

Timetable for Teignbridge Local Plan

The consultation gives a tight timetable for submission of part 2 plans in order to be exempt from these requirements.

The current timetable for the Teignbridge local plan can be found here https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/planning/local-plans-and-policy/local-development-scheme/

This starts development of part 2 of the plan in January 2021, and consults on sites in the period leading to September 2021. This plan is then submitted for inspection in April 2023. If the new formula is adopted by the end of 2020, then in order to be exempt from the new requirements, the council will have until September 2021 to submit a plan to the inspector. This sounds like an extremely challenging contraction of the planning process.

It is therefore likely that TDC will be obliged to comply with this formula, and so will need to identify additional sites, which will extend the plan timetable further.

Detailed Analysis

Our in depth analysis can be found here

Responding to the consultation

You can respond online to the consultation here.

The deadline for responses is 11:45pm on 1st October 2020.

Our response to the housing numbers part of the consultation is available here , and has been submitted online.

ACT responds to Teignbridge Local Plan consultation

The ACT coordinating group is preparing a response to the TDC Local Plan consultation.  We have prepared an initial draft response here.

Your input/comments are very much welcomed, please send these to fuad@actionclimateteignbridge.org

It is important that everyone responds to this consultation by the 15th June as the new Local Plan will shape development in Teignbridge for the next 20 years.  It is a key opportunity to demonstrate community support so the council is strengthened in its resolve to put Climate Change at the centre of everything it does. 

We will share a final version before the consultation closes, you can use this or the current draft to help you prepare your own response.

Carbon Calculator released

We have developed a carbon calculator which is simple to use and will enable you to track your carbon footprint from year to year.

The calculator covers everything you and your household consume including domestic energy use, transport, food and stuff. Domestic energy use and car use are based on accurate readings. As well as accounting for petrol and diesel cars, plugin-in cars are also handled. The food section’s calculation is based on both your diet type and expenditure. Spending on goods is based on expenditure, with a fixed amount for services.

The calculator allows you to store your results for each year, and sets an annual target for each of the following years.

After a period of use for the spreadsheet based calculator, we will introduce a web application which will reflect feedback you give us on this calculator.

You can download the calculator and read more about it here.

Teignbridge Wildlife Watchers on Facebook

A message to all ACT members with an interest in Wildlife.
To help wildlife, find new friends, keep people in touch and encourage them to share the wildlife they see on their daily walk, we’ve just started a Teignbridge Wildlife Watchers Facebook Page.

You can Like and Follow it by going to this facebook page or go onto your Facebook page, click ‘Find Friends’ and put in Teignbridge Wildlife Watchers. You don’t have to be a member of ACT to use this page, so you can share it with all of your friends in Teignbridge. When you post a photo, video or observation, try to remember to put your Parish in the Post, so we can get some useful wildlife info from it!

If you aren’t on Facebook, you can look at the Page, but you won’t be able to post your wildlife notes; maybe you could email them to a friend who does Facebook and ask them to put your observations on the Page for you? If there is a demand, we could possibly start an email group for people who don’t want to use Facebook . 

Covid19 is bringing great sadness and suffering – but it is also bringing hope for the future of our planet. Worldwide, virus precautions are shrinking our footprints and our pollution (it’s even reduced the death rate for people who have been made ill by polluted air) and it may be giving our climate and wildlife its last chance for survival. The question is, can we keep our footprints small and continue to make our wild places bigger when the virus has dwindled? We need your help and encouragement to do it!

Decarbonising Transport setting the Challenge

DfT has launched Decarbonising Transport setting the Challenge. This recognises that current and planned policies will not result in net zero by 2050. This consultation plans to produce a Transport Decarbonisation Plan within 7 months.

Details of the challenge can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876251/decarbonising-transport-setting-the-challenge.pdf

This document reviews current and already proposed future policies towards meeting net zero by 2050. The challenge recognises that these policies alone will not achieve net zero. Public participation in the challenge will take the form of:

  • Stakeholder Events
  • Workshops
  • On going public engagement

You can share your views on decarbonising transport, register to receive regular updates on the progress of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and information about the consultation workshops by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk.

We will publish our views and hope to take part as an organisation.

Teignbridge District Council Local Plan Review

On 23rd March Teignbridge District Council announced the Local Plan 2020-2040 Review. The review survey runs until 15th June 2020, and ACT will be publishing a response towards the end of April.

Details of the local plan review can be found at https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/planning/local-plans-and-policy/local-plan-review-2020-2040/

Transport Documents Updated

Transport related documents have been updated to reflect comments received. These are the Parish Pack, Transport Policy and the TECs Electric Vehicles review.

We have published updated versions of:

Transport Policy

This has been updated to reflect comments made in response to the original release. Updates include a new section on the national speed limit, and revision of the carbon calculator section to reflect recent progress.

EVs document

This document provides an extensive review of the pros and cons of buying an EV, subjects covered include:

  • Introduction to EVs including types of EVs
  • History of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
  • Travel Range
  • Emissions including comparison with internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV), NOx emissions, non tailpipe emissions
  • Manufacture and disposal emissions and the use of Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite and rare earths. Recycling of batteries and Lifespan.
  • Efficiency and payback calculations compared with similar ICEV.
  • Efficiency of Rapid Charging
  • Driving, Towing, Insurance and taxation
  • Charging, connector types, different types of chargers

Mapping Teignbridge Transport emissions

We have recently produced detailed mapping of transport emissions in Teignbridge. This mapping shows estimated emissions from each road, and assigns these to Parishes and Census output areas.

This mapping can be viewed on our Maps and Data page.

Heathfield Power Station application unanimously rejected by Teignbridge planning committee

This morning Teignbridge District Council unanimously rejected application 19/01342/FUL for a gas fired power plant at Heathfield.

First ACT’s Fuad Al-Tawil spoke against the application:

“The council’s unanimous and brave decision to declare a Climate Emergency inspired a huge number of us to act together to help the council fulfil their pledge of Net Zero Emissions for Teignbridge by 2025.

Please give us, and the country, a lead to show that you are serious about doing this.”

“Despite all our efforts we find that the updated report has actually embellished the misinformed evidence from the first report.  Some of this ‘evidence’ gives half the story, some skews the facts and quite a few are simply inaccurate.  This pseudo-evidence is then used to justify the development as being needed and complying with the CCC statements, the NPPF and LP policies.”

“If this is plant is intended to meet ‘peaking’ electricity demands as implied by the developer, it should only operate at the times indicated by WPD’s most recent tender for peaking plant in this area.  This equates to ~5% of the time, yet the applicant intends to operate it for ~50% of the time with no limits to stop that going to 80-90%.”

“Even worse, the declared operating period directly blocks additional renewable generation whether local or elsewhere.”

Here is the full text of Fuad’s speech, which regrettably was cut short by the bell.

Fuad was followed by Ben Wallace for the applicant. Mr. Wallace recited paragraph 3.3.1 of NPP EN-1 as justification for the application: “As a result, the more renewable generating capacity we have the more generation capacity we will require overall, to provide back-up at times when the availability of intermittent renewable sources is low. If fossil fuel plant remains the most cost-effective means of providing such back-up, particularly at short notice, it is possible that even when the UK’s electricity supply is almost entirely decarbonised we may still need fossil fuel power stations for short periods when renewable output is too low to meet demand, for example when there is little wind.

Cllr Sally Morgan, ward councillor for Bovey ward, then spoke passionately about the impact on the Bovey environment, followed by Cllr Avril Kerwell, also a councillor for Bovey ward, who echoed Cllr Morgan’s sentiments. These were followed by a succession of councillors speaking against, including Cllr Nutley, Cllr Keeling and Cllr Wrigley, who cited Dinorwig as a long established example of storage and urged us to write to government to get things changed. Several members spoke of the need to use existing green alternatives.

Cllr Jackie Hook then spoke, emphasising that this was not a council proposal but from a private company. She pointed out the factual inaccuracies in the applicant’s statement and stated that the application was clearly counter to policies S7 and EN3. She noted that para 3.3.1, which the applicant relied on, was written in 2011 and states that electricity can’t be stored, this policy only states that there might be a need for fossil fuelled plant. This need has not been proven. Cllr Hook also spoke of the need for planning officers to consider both sides of the argument. Cllr Clarence spoke about water power as a long established resource that we are not using.

The motion was then put to a recorded vote, where all the committee voted unanimously to reject the application.

Some points that emerged from the discussion were:

  • That the applicant’s web site guarantees 20 years income to site owners for this type of site.
  • Such a plant running for about 50% of the time would deny cleaner alternatives access to the grid.
  • That the need for this and similar application needs to be proven, and this has not been done.

The factual arguments put by ACT and other like minded  organisations have today won the argument.

A fuller account is now available on Devon Live.

Stop the Heathfield Power Plant

Following Teignbridge District Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in April 2019, in July application 19/01342/FUL was received by Teignbridge District Council for a 2.5MW gas-fired peaking power plant at Heathfield. This application has received over 300 objections.

As a result of these Bovey ward Councillor Sally Morgan has called in the decision, so that it would be decided by the full planning committee. The planning officer has now recommended approval to the planning committee, which will meet at 10am 18th February 2020 at Forde House in Newton Abbot.

We will be there at 9.30 and will have a speaker against the application.

A Climate Emergency means that we must not add more fossil fuel burning plant to our electricity network. Teignbridge’s existing local plan has a policy S7, which states that CO2 emissions must be reduced by 48% on 2009 levels by 2033. The applicant claims that this plant supports renewable generation (which it does not), and contains several serious factual inaccuracies including that in 2018 52% of electricity generation was from renewables, where 33.3% came from renewables and 19.5% from nuclear.

The planning officer’s report states that the determination that the application was compliant with policy S7 was “finely balanced”, so had the correct statistics been used it is reasonable to assume that the balance might have swung the other way.

Teign Energy Communities (TECs) has done a detailed analysis of statements in the applicant’s planning statement and the planning officer’s report: http://teignenergycommunities.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/TECs-Heathfield-Power-Station-S7-Analysis-v1.0.pdf

Audrey Compton has written to the members of the planning committee:

Dear Cllr
I am extremely concerned about the application for a Gas Power Station at Heathfield and hope very much that you will be voting against it.
Thousands of us were so encouraged when TDC decided to aim for the District to be carbon neutral by 2025. The all-party agreement on this was also very heartening – having a planning officer recommend passing an application for a fossil-fuel powered generating station is not heartening. To achieve the Councils unanimous ambition means that we all need to reduce our electricity use, not continue as before.

The application asks that the station should be allowed to be used 46% of the time in order to fill gaps in renewable power, this will NOT help us become carbon neutral by 2025.
All it will do is encourage everyone to carry on as usual; which means letting down all of our young people and condemming them to an immeasurably worse life than our own!
Added to the very significant CO2 emissions from this generator are the Nitrous oxide emissions – which are very dangerous to health and will be close to a popular walking and cycle path.
How can TDC measure the impact/contribution this plant will make to the overall Teignbridge Carbon emissions (S7) without this number. An estimate based on 46% operation is quite significant at around 0.25% of total Teignbridge emissions! And what are the expected CO2e emissions per kWh electricity generated? TDC needs to look at the development of storage for renewable energy to smooth out energy supplies, if it truly wishes to decarbonise.

I am one of the four who started ACTion on Climate in Teignbridge last year – we now have around 250 members as well as 250 people who belong to our Facebook page.
Over 50 of us are very active in all of the different areas that we cover: the Built Environment, Energy, Ecology, Food, Farming and Forestry, Transport, Public Engagement and Procurement.
We will be at Forde House to observe the Planning Committee on the 18th – and hope that we can once again celebrate the outstanding leadership of our Councillors.

with best wishes for the future,
Audrey Compton

Applications for similar gas-fired plant at Ivybridge (South Hams 3354/19/FUL ) and Woodbury (East Devon 19/0591/MFUL) have already been refused permission partly on the grounds of climate emergency.