Newton Abbot resident Jessie Stevens is heading to Glasgow for the COP26 summit in November, and plans to pedal the whole 570 miles! She will be cycling under the banner of the People Pedal Power mission she has created. This aims to inspire people (particularly young people) to join her on her journey and deliver a message to the climate conference on the need for urgent action on green transport infrastructure, and much else.
Jessie, 16, is a climate activist determined to make the voice of youth heard at COP26. Such events have long been dominated by adults, she says, many of whom may not live to see the worst effects of the climate crisis. “The youth are rarely a part of these talks despite the impacts of climate and ecological breakdown impacting them the most.”
After looking at her travel options, Jessie found the easiest, cheapest, but most polluting way to get to Glasgow would be by car or plane. Taking the (less polluting) train looked complicated and expensive. She decided she would like to travel under her own power and resolved to cycle, and make as much noise as possible along the way.
“To me, cycling is a very community orientated mode of travel. This perfectly fitted my visions of #ride2COP26 as it gives space for many individuals to join the ride, gathering force and power,” she says.
Jessie will be supported on her trip by Adventure Syndicate, a collective of women endurance cyclists, who will accompany her on a cargo bike, carrying everything she needs.
“The cargo bike will not only provide physical support, but will also tangibly represent one of the viable solutions to developing a more sustainable transport system,” says Jessie. “After all, this journey is not just about highlighting what is wrong, but also about demonstrating solutions.”
Adventure Syndicate will also co-produce a film documenting the journey and the stories of those involved and the people Jessie meets along the way.
Jessie will set off on 20th October, covering between 50-70 miles a day, and invites people to join her for a few miles to highlight people power—both in terms of active travel and political voice.
Our wildlife wardens have been busy gathering information about many sites, and some have submitted responses for their areas individually. Here is the response on ecological matters, which includes information about many sites.
We have also studied chapter 11 low carbon, in detail and have been assured that a further consultation on renewable sites will occur later in the year. Chapter 11 is based on a report from Exeter University, which identifies the district’s energy requirements and potential for renewable generation. We await this consultation with interest.
Emily Marbaix is back with another podcast (which you can also read) in which she talks about her latest wild camping trip, orienteering training with Emma Cunis (aka Dartmoor’s Daughter), and notes that 68 wildlife wardens across 34 parishes and wards have received introductory training. There is also:
An update on the Wildlife Warden Scheme
An interview with Paul Martin of Ogwell-based Ogwild on the group’s experiences so far
Wildlife watching and outdoor ideas for the summer holidays
Information about Sustainable Bishops’s wildflower art competition, which will be on show on the 11th September
Information about Defra’s new campaign, Plant for our Planet
Information about the Teignbridge Local Plan Consultation
The government demands that the local plan provides sites for about 750 houses per year over the next 20 years in Teignbridge.
Where homes are built makes a difference to carbon emissions.
If you build small flats in town centres:
There are fewer emissions from construction.
There are fewer ongoing emissions.
You don’t need a car, so there is a chance of no private transport emissions.
This post considers how far this could be achieved in the Heart of Teignbridge using the sites already identified in part 2 of the local plan. It is quite a long post which includes some feasibility calculations, which considers:
Part 2 of the local plan identifies more new sites than are needed to meet this when sites already allocated in the existing plan are taken into account.
The plan proposes that the allocations are split between the areas identified as follows:
Heart of Teignbridge: 40% (c. 2,920 homes)
Edge of Exeter: 24% (c. 1,800 homes)
Dawlish: 14% (c. 1000 homes)
Teignmouth: 1% (c. 100 homes)
Bovey Tracey: 3.5% (c. 250 homes)
Ashburton: 3.5% (c. 250 homes)
Villages: 14% (c. 960 homes)
Each site has a suggested minimum and maximum number of homes, the following table is derived from these, and shows the level of choice in each area:
The columns in this table are sourced from the local plan documents as follows:
Proposed distribution comes from ‘How much housing development is required’ in chapter 2.
Min is the sum of the lower number of homes for each site in the area, taken from chapters 3 to 10.
Max is the sum of the higher number of homes for each site in the area, taken from chapters 3 to 10
Min <= 1ha is the sum of the lower number of homes for each site in the area, where the site is less than 1 hectare (and so suitable for a smaller developer).
Max <= 1ha is the sum of the higher number of homes for each site in the area, where the site is less than 1 hectare (and so suitable for a smaller developer).
%required min is the proportion of Min that would be required to satisfy the proposed distribution.
%required max is the proportion of Max that would be required to satisfy the proposed distribution. This indicates the level of choice between sites given in the plan.
Notes are any observations.
For the sake of argument let’s accept this distribution. It shows that there is a considerable amount of choice of sites in the Heart of Teignbridge, Dawlish, Bovey Tracey and the villages.
The rest of this post considers a possible allocation for the Heart of Teignbridge.
Allocation in the Heart of Teignbridge
Within the Heart of Teignbridge the sites are subdivided into Urban Renewal sites, which are on existing land that has already been developed for other purposes, and the rest of the Heart of Teignbridge.
Enough of the sites in the Heart of Teignbridge to meet the allocation of 2920 are shown in the following table:
Some of the sites towards the bottom of the table have been chosen to make up the numbers, but this allocation tries to avoid using green field sites that are away from current development.
This post considers putting the maximum possible amount of development into the Urban Renewal sites, this has a number of advantages:
The homes delivered will all be within easy walking distance of:
Newton Abbot Station
Newton Abbot town centre
The combined cycleway/footpath towards Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead to the north, and currently to the Passage House, soon to be extended to Teignmouth.
The need for car ownership for day to day use would be minimised:
occasional car use could be provided by a car club.
Day to day car use would only be needed if work demanded it.
The need for further car parking would be minimised.
Car traffic growth would be minimised.
These sites suit smaller dwellings and these is a proven demand for smaller dwellings.
The combination of smaller dwellings and possibilities for active travel and use of public transport will give the smallest carbon footprint.
Development of green field sites further out away from the centre is minimised.
We then consider other sites as near to the Town Centre as possible. The A382 development is already in progress, and there is relatively level access to the town centre along this corridor. This favours the Berry Knowles, Caravan Storage and Forches Cross sites. Unfortunately we still need to find 424 homes from the remaining sites.
The latest TDC housing policy document states that there is a waiting list of about 1000 applicants, and that 51% of these applicants are looking for a single bed property the proportion of property types required by applicants is shown in the following table:
Additionally 1 in 3 Teignbridge residents is over 65 years old, so probably doesn’t have children.
This says that there is a need to smaller properties, which could be flats.
There is clearly a need for social and affordable housing, as the waiting list recently has been about 1000 applicants, with about 350 applicants being housed each year. If the waiting list were to be substantially reduced over say 4 years to 100, then an additional 225 affordable homes per year would be required.
On average 137 new affordable homes are provided, other applicants are housed from existing stock. So the number of new affordable homes needs to increase to about 425. That would leave 325 open market homes from the obligatory 750 allocation.
Housing density is expressed in dwellings per hectare (dph), the area part of this measure includes estate roads, but excludes major thoroughfares.
From the developable area and maximum homes stated for Urban Renewal areas we can calculate the maximum dwellings per hectare:
Kingsteignton retail park site has a maximum density of 37.04, which is low for an urban area. This is a large site, so makes a big difference to the overall numbers, developing this at 50dph delivers an additional 175 homes.
If all the sites were developed at a density of 70 dph, then only 522 more homes would be required, so only the Berry Knowles and Forches Cross sites would be needed in addition to the Urban Renewal sites. Some sites are already allocated at more than 70 dph, so setting this as a minimum gives 2466 homes, so we are left with 454 to find.
If a minimum of 84.5 dph was set over this area, then 2932 homes would be delivered, which is enough to satisfy the Heart of Teignbridge allocation.
When I originally wrote this section I has misread the developable area of Brunel as 22 hectares, which makes the calculations better. If the developable are of Brunel or Kingsteignton retail park could be increased by 7ha between both sites, then the average density required overall could be reduced to 70dph.
So the Teignmouth block to the top left is at 70 dph. These examples are in the Teignbridge Vernacular. For a larger development such as Brunel, a complementary, but more modern style might be appropriate.
I am sure that an imaginative architect could manage better!
So it looks like 70 dph is achievable if most dwellings are small and development is up to 3 storeys.
What should the housing mix be?
In order to substantially reduce the housing waiting list we need to deliver about 425 affordable homes per year. The mix for these should follow the mix of dwelling sizes required by applicants. If the urban renewal area were developed using this mix then the numbers would be as follows:
Here we have split 2 and 3 bed dwellings equally between flats and houses.
What would be the carbon footprint of this development be?
The carbon footprint that can be attributed to this development is made up from:
Embedded emissions from construction of dwellings.
Operational emissions from buildings in use.
For buildings emissions can be approximately calculated from floor area, we assume that development is to the minimum space standard introduced in 2015. This standard takes into account the number of occupants as well as the number of bedrooms, so a one bedroom flat may have one or two occupants. Apply the minimum floor areas in this standard to our required annual housing numbers:
Embedded emissions from construction depend on the construction type, the following values are assumed, and are applied to a floor area of 45969 m2:
CLT stands for cross laminated timber, which is a lightweight construction that can be used for up to 9 storeys. It lends itself to offsite pre-fabrication. CLT panels have good thermal properties.
The above embedded emissions do not take account of sequestration caused by the carbon sequestered whilst trees are growing being locked up in the structure of a dwelling. If this is taken into account it could be that CLT construction is carbon negative.
The operational emissions can be approximated from past energy performance certificates, combined with an aspiration that the new building regulations will reduce operational emissions to 25% of current building regulations. The average current CO2 emissions from properties with an EPC rating C and above since 2015 is about 24kg CO2e/m2/year. So we assume that these dwellings will be built to 6kg CO2e/m2/year. This gives operational emissions of 276 tCO2e per year.
As no car travel is necessary with these sites, there are no additional transport emissions.
If the urban renewal sites are built at 750 dwellings per year, it will take nearly 4 years to construct these dwellings. If we allocate embedded emissions to the year of construction, then the total emissions over the first few years would be:
Comparison with development of more out of town sites
Suppose that instead we built 750 brick built 3/4 bedroomed homes on sites 3 miles from the town centre.
Assume these have an average floor area of 100m2, then the embedded emissions would be 73.1 tonnes per house, or 54,825 tonnes for 750 houses.
The operational emissions would be 450 tonnes per year.
We assume that a resident 3 miles from the town centre travels everywhere by car including travel to work, shopping and leisure. This might amount to 8,000 miles per year. Worse sites 3 miles from the town centre are generally at a higher altitude, so will require additional energy to go uphill that is not regained downhill. 8,000 miles in an average petrol or diesel car emits 2.5 tCO2e/year, and a diesel 2.2 tCO2e/year. Even an EV powered from grid electricity would emit 0.8tCO2e/year. If we assume 20% EV, 40% diesel and 40% petrol, then the average car would emit about 2t CO2e/year.
Even if we assume 1 car per house, then there are an additional 1500 tonnes from cars. It would be more realistic to assume 2 cars with one being used less, so effectively 1.5 cars.
Putting all this together for the first few years we get:
Once built this option has nearly 10 times the emissions than the alternative low carbon option.
When you think about an Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist, you probably don’t think of someone like me, writes Amanda Cole. A 68 year old grandmother, with a 44 year history of NHS work in a responsible and respected position. But I attended the protests at the recent G7 meeting in St Ives and joined hundreds of other people rebelling against the failure of governments to act on the dual climate and ecological emergencies.
A sixth mass extinction of wildlife is already underway. Studies show a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1980, while the world’s natural ecosystems have lost about half their area, all largely due to human action. Climate change is already affecting our weather, bringing more frequent floods and heatwaves. If we don’t allow ecosystems to recover and expand, as well as massively reduce our carbon emissions, it will all get worse. Other parts of the world with more vulnerable communities are suffering these effects more acutely than Britain is right now.
Attending the XR events at the G7, a meeting of the Group of Seven richest nations, was a great experience in many ways. The protests were creative, inspiring, sometimes sombre, and sometimes fun. There was lots of media coverage; it was great to engage with the public and the police. The reception in my experience was pretty much 100% friendly. There was one woman muttering at a bus stop, but I didn’t catch what she said. There were no Rebel arrests. But of course we were securely separated from the official goings-on in Carbis Bay, so I’m not sure how much we were listened to. The government resolution to pledge a £500m Blue Planet Fund for marine conservation had already been announced last year. About US$2bn is to be provided to help countries worldwide to phase out coal-fired power generation. This may not even be new money. The summit failed to set us up for a successful COP26, the UN climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November, as trust is sorely lacking between rich and developing countries. Overall, these outcomes were more than disappointing.
So yes, you are right; I am not a typical Rebel. Extinction Rebellion members do come from a particular demographic in the main. But with the richest nations in the world failing to provide leadership and finance to tackle the climate crisis, it falls to each and every one of us to make the changes we feel able to make.
People sometimes think individuals cannot make a difference, but that is wrong. Look at how the British public responded to the challenges the pandemic brought. We were far more responsive and able to change than the government, and even the scientists predicted. And there is some evidence that if you feel good about making a little change, you will go on to make another. What is vital is to choose something you want to do, and are able to do. I would never ask my beef farmer friend to give up meat or suggest my friends on benefits buy expensive eco-products. But we can all start reusing plastic, sorting our recycled waste, and picking up litter, for example. We can all do something.
I was heartened at the end of the visit to St Ives to hear the speaker at the closing ceremony for the XR events say: “Some people say we’re preaching to the converted in XR. Well let’s make it our pledge before COP26 to talk to people outside this group. Ask what they think. Find out what makes them sceptical or hesitant. See if you can help.”
So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s all take some climate action today and build towards a happier and healthier future.
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 of the whole meeting, the local plan is item 6 on the agenda, which you can select from the menu on the right.
Jackie Hook said “We will have to choose some sites, help us to choose the least damaging. This isn’t however about who can gather the biggest petition against a site, this is about bringing to the council’s attention additional planning related information and knowledge.”
Local plan consultation on sites
Part 2 of the local plan has now been published and can be found here.
As you may know, the Government has told Teignbridge it must build 751 houses a year (they had planned to order 1,532 houses a year!). The council therefore has to identify the sites where the houses can be built. If we do not do this the Government will take over planning at Teignbridge and increase the numbers by 20%.
This consultation asks that members of the public help by:
Checking through the sites and see what may be proposed in your community and commenting about the sites.
Sharing the consultation with your friends and family living in Teignbridge. It’s really important as many people as possible know about the proposals and say what they think to Teignbridge.
This could well be the last time local people are given a say in major planning decisions like this. The Government is proposing to bring in a new system under which land will be zoned. Anything designated for ‘growth’ will be deemed to have ‘planning permission in principle’. Government ministers claim their plan will eliminate ‘red tape’ but many fear that it abolishes any meaningful involvement of residents and local councils in planning matters. The consultation on the possible housing sites ends at 12 Noon on Monday 9th August 2021. Do please have your say
Chapter 11 states Teignbridge’s 2018 carbon footprint and analyses emissions trends over the period 2008-2018, showing that the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors have not reduced over that period.
Electricity consumption is estimated to grow from 468GWh to 940GWh (101%) as a result of electrification of heat and transport, as well as growth associated with growth mandated by the plan.
The report doesn’t give any detail of how this electrification will be achieved, but the proposed increase in electricity consumption is close to our own estimates based on widespread EV take-up and retrofitting the existing housing stock to near Passiv Haus standards. Indeed the growth in electricity demand is slightly lower than we estimated, so some other demand reduction must be assumed.
Possible sites are identified for 217GWh of wind and 726GWh of solar, totalling 953GWh. So on a whole year basis enough to meet demand. The report identifies a number of constraints, which mean that this much renewable generation is unlikely to be buildable.
Peak demand occurs in the winter, when solar generation is producing least. We see already that in the recent sunny period that grid carbon intensity for the South West can get as low as 30g/kWh when most energy comes from solar and nuclear. Contrast this with winter when on a calm day most of our electricity in the South West comes from gas when grid carbon intensity can exceed 400g/kWh.
The report identifies an increase of 201GWh of demand from heating, which will mainly be needed in the winter months. It also identifies 49 GWh from additional housing, if we assume that this will also be biased towards winter, the additional winter demand could increase to 230GWh. This is more than could be supplied by the identified wind resource. So Teignbridge will need to import more renewable energy from elsewhere during the winter.
A large amount of land is identified as suitable for solar development. Here there is also scope for a significant contribution from rooftop PV, however, this is limited in practice by the ability of local substations to deal with local generation.
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 also provided.
A summary of each application is shown with reference number and proposal, this can be expanded to show all details and the latest documents relating to the application. There are links from the reference number to the application on the TDC site, as well as to the documents page for the application.
New neighbours move in and immediately cut down a magnificent silver birch and create a drive with non-porous material. I am mad! I love trees, writes Fran Hamilton.
What’s all the fuss about?
Let’s start at the bottom, below the surface of the soil. Maybe you have noticed white threads on old rotting wood. These are called mycorrhizal fungi and absorb nutrients and minerals in the soil and transport them from one plant or tree to another, often over huge areas. In this way they extend the roots of any plant. Nearly all plants (including vegetables) are dependent on mycorrhizal fungi for their thriving and survival. You can read about the astonishing abilities of underground fungal networks in Merlin Sheldrake’s book ‘Entangled Life’.
Still at ground level, trees absorb water and hold it, thus regulating the flow that any heavy rain brings. Once a tree has been removed, soil erosion can result from the removal of the many roots that anchored it in the soil.
Above the ground, the water the trees have absorbed is drawn up and eventually expelled via the branches and leaves. This cools the air, which brings increasing benefits as extreme weather becomes the norm due to climate change. One large oak tree is capable of transpiring 40,000 gallons of water into the atmosphere each year. Strategically planted deciduous trees can cool a building in the hotter months, and then allow the warming sun into our homes during the winter months. Trees can also protect buildings from the wind.
Another key benefit of trees is the reduction in pollutants as a result of the leaves absorbing particles. Researchers from the US Forest Service have calculated that trees in the US removeover 17 million tonnes of air pollution each year, saving at least 850 lives that would otherwise be lost through acute respiratory illness. No doubt the UK will also have a high figure.
Trees are also a vital habitat for wildlife. Tree cavities provide nest and roost sites for birds and bats. In Europe, an estimated 30% of forest-dwelling birds use tree cavities, and it is well known that the availability of cavities – in number and type – is a limiting factor of bird-population size. We quietly acknowledge the lack of tree cavities in our landscape every time we put up a nest or bat-box. The research, however, is starting to suggest that these boxes are not adequate replacements for natural hollows and cavities. Trees have more stable microclimates than boxes, buffering against temperature fluctuations.
Even a dead tree is valuable for wildlife. Springtails, mites, beetles, flies and parasitoid wasps are particularly likely to use dead trees, but it isn’t unusual to find the humble earthworm living metres-high in a tree cavity.
So besides not cutting down a perfectly healthy tree what can we do? Tree cover in Devon is only 11.8% – slightly less than the national average. Surprisingly, Camden and Croydon feature among the top 20 places in England and Wales with the most tree cover, while largely rural areas like the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales have the least.
But before rushing out to plant a tree it’s worth doing some research on which tree to plant. You need the right tree in the right place. Getting it wrong can do more harm than good. The Woodland Trust has lots of information on its website, including an A-Z of British trees and a tree ID app, plus tips on how to choose a tree and where to plant it.
Planting trees is often promoted as a way of offsetting our carbon emissions, but such schemes can be little more than greenwash. In many cases the trees would have been planted anyway. Reducing emissions in the first place is always the better option.
So be alert to the sound of the chainsaw; trees are really precious and need all the help we can give them for all our sakes.
University of Exeter is developing a low carbon strategy to determine where and how renewable energy generation and low carbon development should feature in the district, and will feature in Part 2 of the local plan.
Authority participating in DELETTI and will install double rapid EV chargers in four of Teignbridge’s AQMAs.
Shortlist of 12 sites selected in collaboration with parish councils for On-street Residential Charging Scheme (ORSCS) in car parks.
Draft local plan requires installation of EV chargers in new development.
Joint bid submitted under the Cosy Devon partnership to delivery energy efficiency improvements for low-income households. A further bid for £1.14M has been submitted to deliver authority led improvements.
The Authority has participated in the Solar Together scheme. 917 solar PV and 153 battery storage systems are proposed as part of the scheme across Devon.
Low-carbon social housing projects include Drake Road, East Street and Sherbourne House. These will achieve high carbon and energy standard and feature Air Source Heat Pumps and EV charging points.
William Elliot has been measuring the authority’s own carbon footprint, annually Scope 1 & 2 emissions are 2Mt CO2 and Scope 3 emissions 6.7Mt
The Authority is currently working on a Carbon Action Plan to identify a cost and carbon efficient pathway to becoming carbon neutral, which will cover about 40 projects across 15 buildings owned by the authority. A budget of £E3.6M over 2021-2024 has been allocated, and a grant application for £3.1M has been submitted covering seven sites, which could deliver a combined reduction of 400 tonnes of CO2/yr. A full report will be submitted to Executive Council in April 2021.
TDC is a signatory of the Devon Climate Emergency and is supporting the Devon Carbon Plan, the consultation on the interim plan has just ended, following a Citizen’s Assembly the final Devon Carbon Plan is due for adoption by Local Authorities in summer 2021.
Following the declaration of an Ecological emergency in September 2020, plans are in hand to plant 1,500 trees in Q1 2021 in partnership with the Woodland Trust and Idverde. A tree strategy is progressing and a draft will be available for consultation in Q1 2021. The Authority has committted £5,000 to Devon Wildlife Trust to support a habitat mapping exercise.
It was reported that ACT’s Wildlife Warden Scheme has received 75 applications and has trained 50 wardens to date.
The consultation on the Interim Devon Carbon Plan closes on 15th February, writes John Watson. Please take the time to comment on the plan. In particular, tell the Devon Climate Emergency partnership (DCE) that a target date of 2050 for achieving carbon neutrality is much too late.
The plan, put together by a specialist task force set up by DCE, describes what has to be done to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and looks at the opportunities and challenges and what the costs will be.
Many of the changes proposed by the plan are far reaching, but they will improve our health and wellbeing as well as our environment, and make the world a safer place for our children and grandchildren by avoiding runaway climate change. There is little in the plan to disagree with.
My main concern is to bring the target date forward. If we aim for 2050, we will produce way too many emissions in the intervening years and make the task all but impossible. The plan has had to be based on the government’s 2050 target for net zero, but that target is likely to be made more ambitious. As many highly respected national and international scientific bodies have pointed out, we need to aim for net zero by 2030.
The Interim Devon Carbon Plan itself is supportive of an earlier target, and encourages “all Devon-based organisations to become net-zero by 2030, including their supply chains”. It also “strongly encourage[s] national government to bring forward the net-zero carbon date for the UK”.
It is perhaps not surprising that one of the questions in the consultation is about the target date, particularly as many of the local authorities collaborating under the DCE partnership have set target dates significantly earlier than 2050.
The task force that drew up the plan is composed of academics, business people and individuals. They have taken evidence from many sources so far and have consulted younger people via a youth parliament. In the lead up to the draft final plan later this year there will be a citizen’s assembly and further consultation.
The task force is a sub-group of the DCE, which is a partnership, established in May 2019, between local councils, environmental groups, health bodies, utility operators, and organisations such as the Met Office and the NFU.
I have already made my comments on the plan. I hope you will too. It’s an important opportunity for local residents to have a say in the future of their local area.