Energy and Built Environment

The purpose of the ACT Energy & Built Environment group is to propose realistic policies and initiatives necessary to meet Teignbridge District Council’s declared net zero carbon objective.

The working group meets regularly every four weeks (currently by Zoom).  Please contact the group coordinator if you would like to join us.  Everyone is welcome to discuss, plan or implement the actions needed to achieve our purpose.

We need to cooperate with others, nationally, regionally and locally.  Our focus, however, will be on working locally within Teignbridge.  Not only do we need to learn/share best practice, but we also need to bring our community with us if we are to be successful in delivering a sea-change in attitudes and behaviour.

Energy and Built Environment covers:

  • Housing and buildings
  • New development and existing stock
  • Infrastructure, including all those associated with transport
  • Energy services and utilities, including energy generation

Our broad policies and initiatives in response to TDC declaring a climate emergency can be found here.

We have developed a number of tools and gathered data to help everyone understand and tackle their Carbon emissions. This starts with us as individuals and extends to households and public/private organisations, or can cover a particular geography/sector within Teignbridge.

There are several activities the working group undertakes, including responding to government consultation, providing data/analysis and support to anyone that asks. Below are our current areas of focus.

We use the terms Carbon and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions interchangeably to refer to all gases that contribute to atmospheric warming.  These are usually measured in terms of weight of CO2 equivalent, e.g. kg CO2e or t CO2e.

Energy

Low Carbon Energy supply is not simply a question of having more renewables.  The government’s stated net zero Carbon ambitions and other related policies are of course welcome.  We do not, however, think these are coherent or well thought through at this stage.  In particular, we do not think there is an energy or Carbon strategy to get us to net zero, even by as late as 2050.  The most recent 10 point plan is an example of potentially useful initiatives but lacking in strategy and detail.

Several Energy Hierarchies have been defined which show the steps we need to take in this journey to decarbonise everything. These hierarchies can differ slightly in their steps, but all start with reducing energy consumption as the most important or the largest impact. Technological solutions on their own, whether in improved efficiencies or more renewables, will neither reduce GHG emissions enough nor can they do it quickly enough.

Nevertheless, we will need the technological solutions to complete the task.  Even if we were to make significant inroads into reducing our energy consumption, it would be impossible to reduce this to zero.  Therefore, we need technological solutions to make sure the remaining energy we require has lower GHG emission than the natural environment is able to sequester. 

With current projections, we will have emitted enough GHG within nine years to exceed the Paris Accord’s limits.  To stay well below the 2OC temperature rise limit, we will need to get to net zero GHG emissions by 2030.  See our report and explanation for this and what is causing the climate transformation.

There are a lot of conflicting reports on the next new technology that will ‘solve the problem’. We do not think there is a ‘silver bullet’. We also think there is much confusion between generating low Carbon energy and how we use energy in general. For example, both electric vehicles and heat pumps may be sold as ‘green’ or ‘low carbon’, but the energy to power them has to come from somewhere.  Some would say, we’ll just have more Renewables.  It’s of course not that simple. There are many big technical/logistical hurdles to overcome.  Simply moving all our current transport and heating energy demand to renewable electricity is impossible for the electricity grid to deliver, certainly in the time available.  See the TECs report on options for Net Zero for Teignbridge as well as the CAT report Zero Carbon Britain.

So why are ACT and many others still working hard if things are difficult or even impossible?  Well, we think there are solutions, but they need everyone to take part and ‘do their bit’.  If you are interested in this and the discussion around the subject of how to reach net zero, please join us.  Here are a few links we’ve been working on which you may want to look into and contribute to:

Housing We believe that whole housing retrofit will be a critical area to address.  While there have been several government schemes, including the most recent £5,000-£10,000 green homes grant initiative, the local market and supply chain are not sufficiently developed to deliver quality retrofits.

We want to stimulate this market to benefit Teignbridge residents. See our current thoughts on this in Are you interested in retrofit.


Previous Initiatives

Last Chance to Influence Where New Housing is Built You have until noon on Monday August 9th to give Teignbridge District Council (TDC) your views on the 100 plus sites around Teignbridge proposed for new development. If you don’t respond to this consultation you won’t get another opportunity. It is difficult, if not impossible, for plans to be changed… Read More...
Site options for the Teignbridge local plan to be consulted on A meeting of the council executive on 1st June passed a motion to run a public consultation on site options for the local plan from 14th June to 9th August. Executive Committee meeting You can watch the proceedings of the executive committee here , this gives access to a recording… Read More...
Fast Access tool for planning applications We have written a tool which enables you to see details of all active planning applications on a single interactive page. This enables applications to be filtered by date range, parish, ward or Wildlife Warden area, type, decision level. Text search on address, proposal and document description and title is… Read More...
Wood burning stoves and air pollution Wood burning stoves are in the news. They make a significant contribution to air pollution according to a recent government report. Wood burners and open fires together account for more than one-third (38%) of the tiny particles known as PM2.5 that are among the most damaging types of emissions for… Read More...
Green homes grant not fit for purpose The green homes grant scheme caught my attention as soon as it was launched in September 2020. It looked worth investigating, but my attempt to use it soon came up against obstacles. It proved difficult to find either independent advice on the most important and appropriate improvements to my home,… Read More...
My Carbon Footprint I was brought up to turn the lights off when I left a room, to save both money and energy. I remember the three day week of the 1970s and the power cuts when energy was rationed. That early training may help me now as I start the work of… Read More...
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… Read More...
Are you interested in retrofit? In 2019 nearly 70% of Teignbridge’s existing housing stock had an EPC rating D and below.  Despite the significant increase in new build, this % has changed little in the past 10 years and, in the last 2 years, has actually increased. Green-House Gas (GHG) emissions from heating our buildings… Read More...
Why carbon intensity apps are greenwash There is an app for almost everything. One that recently drew my attention is a carbon intensity app, which at first sight looks really helpful in alerting you to when you can put washing on or charge up batteries while the electricity grid in your area has low carbon emissions.… Read More...
Local Plan consultation extended Teignbridge District Council has extended the consultation period on its Local Plan, moving the closing date from 15th June to 13th July. The change has been made to give people more time to comment, given that face to face meetings are not currently possible. ACT encourages everyone to submit a… Read More...