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.

ACT launches resources pack for town and parish councillors

Action on Climate in Teignbridge (ACT) works to support district, town and parish councils in the locality that are considering declaring or have already declared a climate and /or ecological emergency.

Twenty councils In Teignbridge, including the district council, have made such a declaration, while others are considering doing so.

ACT has put together an information and resources pack designed to help councils work with their communities to reduce carbon emissions, protect the environment and achieve carbon neutrality.

The launch of the pack follows the two workshops ACT convened in February to facilitate a discussion among councillors on the challenges we all face in taking effective climate action and to exchange ideas on how to tackle those challenges.

The resources pack contains:

  • An overview offering guidelines on declaring an emergency and developing an action plan
  • An explanation of why it is a climate emergency, what are the consequences of a changing climate, what we can do, and setting emissions targets
  • A guide to what local councils can do, including ideas on community engagement and how to put climate and ecological considerations at the heart of councils’ statutory responsibilities
  • Ideas for actions councils can take to measure and reduce emissions within the built environment and primary energy generation
  • A section on food, farming and forestry plus ecology, looking at encouraging local food production, involving farmers in improving carbon sequestration, extending tree cover, and how to help wildlife 
  • A section on transport, noting it is the biggest source of carbon emissions in Teignbridge (51%) and highlighting possible actions to remedy that.

The pack also advises that ACT’s topic groups can help with information, guidance and signposting once a council has chosen its first initiative in a particular area.

The pack will evolve over time and ACT welcomes feedback and input. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute.

You can view and download pack documents here:

https://actionclimateteignbridge.org/index.php/resources-pack-for-town-and-parish-councils/

Plant that tree, but make sure it’s the right tree in the right place

Tree planting is fast becoming a national mania as research shows that trees are a key ally in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Planting without due care and attention won’t get us far though. It is all about planting the right tree in the right place for the right reasons. This was a mantra repeated often by speakers at a tree planting seminar held recently by Teignbridge District Council and the Woodland Trust for councillors and community groups.

Dominic Scanlon of Aspect Tree Consultancy illustrated the “right tree in the right place” point by mention of an oak tree someone unknown has planted between two semi-mature trees in Forde Park in Newton Abbot. “It looked like the right place but over the long term we will end up with three poor specimen trees” because there isn’t enough space for all of them, he said. You have to think in terms of decades when planting trees.

Trees in Stover Country Park

TDC commissioned a study last year of the trees it owns. Trees have been considered a burden in the past because of the costs of maintenance, Mr Scanlon said, but they can also be viewed as an asset for their role in carbon capture and storage, and protection from storm water run-off. When considered from that perspective, the benefits far outstrip the costs. 

This is the value attributed to TDC’s tree population, as measured using iTree, which calculates the economic worth of trees based on the ecosystem services they provide :

  • The replacement cost of the trees is £16m.
  • They store more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon worth £1.3m.
  • They bring £20,000 of benefit in pollution capture and water run-off capture.
  • They have a public asset value of £144m.

The study also showed Teignbridge has a diverse population of trees with the most common species being oak, ash, sycamore and birch. In terms of pollution capture and carbon storage, the oak is the most important species, followed by beech, ash and sycamore. This is because they are the older, larger trees that confer the most benefits on the ecosystem. 

Of course, ash trees are under threat from dieback, caused by a fungus. The disease is expected to kill nearly all of them (94%). Infected trees become brittle and liable to drop branches, which makes them a risk, particularly in public spaces or where they overhang roads. TDC owns 3,800 ash trees and has only removed four to date, but has been planting to replace the trees that will be lost and has almost replaced the full 3,800 already. 

Councils need to develop a plan to deal with ash trees they own, said Mr Scanlon. He recommended the Ash Dieback Action Plan Toolkit available from the Tree Council

Private landowners may also need to take action. Bob Stevenson, tree officer for Devon County Council, said the council estimates there are 448,000 ash trees within falling distance of roads across the county, most of which are on private land.

For 2020, TDC plans to plant a further 1,500 native trees provided by the Woodland Trust on three sites (Sandringham Park Newton Abbot, Michaels Field, Bishopsteignton, Dawlish Leisure Centre, Sandy Lane, Dawlish), plus 15 fruit trees in a community orchard in Bishopsteignton. The aim is to plant adjacent to existing woodland to help create corridors for wildlife.

Heather Elgar of the Woodland Trust said the UK currently has 13% tree cover (10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland), which is significantly lower than for European countries. The Committee on Climate Change, which gives independent advice to the UK government, recommends aiming for tree coverage of 19%. The Trust supports this and considers how to do it in its recently published Emergency Tree Plan for the UK.

Graham Burton, also of the Woodland Trust, took up the theme of right tree, right place but cautioned that it isn’t easy to adhere to that principle. It is about creating a community of trees, a woodland assembly, not just a collection of trees, he said, pointing out there are 24 types of woodland.

The Trust has a preference for natural regeneration over planting but recognises it is not always possible. The drawback to planting is that guards are required and these are often plastic. Biodegradable options are under investigation.

The Trust’s ambitions are to work at landscape scale. For example, it aims to reforest 2% of Cornwall and double canopy cover in Bristol. There is capacity in UK nurseries to produce 100m UK sourced and grown trees, said Mr Burton; the hurdle is finding enough land to plant on. “80% of the UK is farmland, so unless farmers are supported to plant trees under the natural capital banner, it will be really hard to get enough trees planted.”

Teignbridge has a lot of smaller woodlands, he added, and we need to find ways of joining them up. He also gave brief details of the funding and help available for medium scale planting (between 0.5 and 3 hectares) and the free trees available to schools and communities.

Steve Edmunds of the Forestry Commission also gave details of the funding streams for woodland creation and management that local authorities and other landowners can access. These include Countryside Stewardship, targeted at biodiversity and water management, the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, mainly targeted at productive woodlands, and the Woodland Carbon Code, which helps landowners obtain top-up funding for carbon offsetting for businesses.

Then came the reality check. ACT’s Audrey Compton said planting trees is necessary but not sufficient. “Even if we planted every square metre of Teignbridge with trees we still couldn’t make our lives carbon neutral,” she said. 

The annual average carbon footprint in the UK is 13 tonnes, including imported goods. We each need four mature trees to offset that footprint. And as long as we keep using soya and palm oil, planting trees won’t help much. Both crops are often planted on land cleared of rainforest. Soya is widely used in animal feed, making it important to avoid buying imported beef and intensively reared meat. Palm oil is used in many food products and toiletries, although labelling doesn’t always make that clear.

Audrey also spoke of the power of hedges to connect nature and reduce flooding. She showed how the hedges in her steep fields grow along contour lines, and said there is evidence there were more hedges in the past. This approach to planting slows down water run-off and soil erosion. 

“We need to work with the Environment Agency and local farmers to put hedges in the right places, but these are projects that Parish Councils and local Climate Action Groups can help with,” said Audrey. She highlighted how volunteers this month planted 6,000 trees, including 3,500 as hedgerows, in Ide and Shillingford, two parishes in Teignbridge.

Finally, there was welcome news from Cllr Jackie Hook, portfolio holder for climate change on TDC, who said the council will extend its climate emergency declaration to an ecological one too. 

Increasing tree coverage is an essential element in any plan to deal with both of those emergencies, provided we put the right trees in the right place. 

Further reading:

Exeter based Treeconomics has done reports on the ecosystem service value of the tree populations in Exeter, Exmouth and Torbay. The Torbay report finds the area’s estimated 818,000 trees store 98,100 tons of carbon and sequester a further 4,279 tons each year.  They also remove 50 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere each year, a service with an estimated value of £281,000, while the structural value of the trees has been calculated at a remarkable £280m.

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.