Teignbridge progress with the climate and ecological emergency

Cllr. Jackie Hook, executive member for Climate Change, Flooding and Coastal Defence reported to Teignbridge District Council’s (TDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9th February 2021.

Here is a video clip of her report

She reported on TDC’s work on Climate change and the Ecological Emergency:

  • TDC appointed William Elliot in February 2020 as Climate Change Officer
  • TDC has met regularly with ACT to discuss direction and progress on the climate and ecological agenda.
  • In October 2019 policy S7 of the current local plan was amended to uplift the carbon reduction by 2030 from 42% to 48%. The carbon calculator has been updated to only consider building emissions.
  • A new draft local plan for 2020 – 2040 has been published including a whole chapter on climate change and went to consultation March to July 2020.
  • 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.
  • South West Exeter District Heating Network will supply low-carbon heat to 2,500 new homes, using waste energy from Matford.
  • Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles policy
  • Rapid EV Chargers in Chudleigh and Buckfastleigh as part of Highways England Scheme.
  • 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.

Heat pump pros and cons

I remember as a student putting a shilling (2.5p) in the meter to run one bar of an electric fire for an hour to heat my single room. The heat was soon lost again due to poor insulation. 

I now live in a large house heated to a steady 21C by an air source heat pump that uses less energy per hour than the one bar fire did to heat a single room, even in cold weather. It also heats water twice a day to 55C. 

Our heat pump works by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat water,  which then circulates through the underfloor heating system. This works well because the floor area radiating heat is much larger than traditional radiators, so the circulating water does not need to be as hot as in a conventional system. The key point is that the electrical energy needed to run the pump is much lower than the heat energy it provides.

Many households will need to replace their gas or oil boilers with heat pumps if we are to have any chance of reaching the government’s net zero carbon target by 2050. Heating accounted for nearly one third of UK household greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the Energy Saving Trust. We need to cut heating emissions by 95% to reach net zero by 2050, it says.

So far we have made little progress. Currently, biomass is the main source of low emission heat in British homes, primarily supplied via wood burning stoves. Around 1 million homes make use of this energy source, according to the Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK government. Heat pumps account for fewer than one in 100 sales a year of heating systems and show little sign of becoming more popular.

Part of the problem is that heat pumps work best in houses that are well insulated and airtight. That makes them a good choice for new build houses. My house, for example, was built 10 years ago and designed for maximum energy efficiency. It is an oak framed building with insulated wall and roof panels, underfloor insulation and triple glazed windows. Plus solar panels and the heat pump. It has an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A and is as airtight as possible while still being well ventilated.

Installations in older buildings are possible but it is important to obtain a professional whole house heat loss calculation so that the heat pump and radiators or underfloor heating are correctly sized. If this is not done a heat pump may not work well. 

It is likely you will have to improve your home’s insulation before you can install a heat pump, but this is an investment worth making however you decide to heat your home. It will reduce your energy use, which is the first step to decarbonising your home.