ACT Newsletter February 2023

Welcome! It’s been a while since we updated you on ACT’s activities. That’s because we’ve been busy running our existing projects and setting up new ones. We’re sure there’s lots more we could do with your help, and we’re compiling a list of the skills, roles and support we need to take on even more projects. 

We have also decided we need a stronger focus on communicating with members, so will aim to keep you informed on a more regular basis. Some of you will receive updates from the topic groups you belong to, but may have little knowledge of what else ACT does. We discovered this was the case at our Members Gathering, held in the autumn and pictured below. Thanks to all who attended. Read on for a sample of what we’ve been doing recently.

Teignbridge Carbon Cutters 

We launched this group a year ago, aiming to train up volunteers so they can help their communities reduce their carbon emissions. We have run three training courses, attended by 19 people. If you’re interested in the idea of making carbon reduction happen in your community we would love to hear from you. Visit the Facebook page or the Carbon Cutters website to find out more or contact the Carbon Cutters coordinator.

Steering Group takes over!

This is the group that takes an overview of all our activities. It was previously known as the Coordinating Group but the name was changed following a review of ACT’s purpose and aims. The group’s most immediate focus is on putting together a response to the draft Local Plan, which is open for consultation until March 13th. 

Our main concern with the plan is the Climate Change policy CC2: Carbon Statements.

  • It is not clear how the policy relates to the government’s Carbon Budgets;
  • There is no requirement to reduce, or even state, the embodied emissions of a development as the policy only covers operational emissions; 
  • There is too much allowance for using offsetting to reach net zero operational emissions. 

We will propose changes to the policy in our response. 

The steering group is also creating a list of areas where extra help is needed within ACT. This might be helping out in an existing project area, filling a gap we’re already aware of, beginning a new interest group or shadowing someone. All roles within ACT are voluntary, and many of us are not experts. Our effectiveness and impact is likely to be much improved with more hands on deck! If you would like to find out more, contact Kate, ACT’s chairperson.

Another initiative is to invite new members of ACT to a welcome meeting so we can get to know each other. We have held a number of these already and they are working well. If you would like to attend a welcome meeting to find out more about what we do and how you might help, contact Kate.

Energy Group

This group holds meetings every four weeks to discuss whatever topics those who attend want to talk about. It has also held several “at home” sessions in members’ houses to inspect and discuss the energy efficiency / carbon reduction measures taken by those members. Some members also provide input to the Carbon Action Plan that Teignbridge District Council is working on. In particular, they are updating ACT’s Carbon Footprint Tracker to make it more user friendly so it can be included in the plan. For more information on the energy group visit the website or contact Fuad.

Public Engagement Group

This group has a new focus on engaging with ACT members in a bid to increase their active involvement. We’ve taken a first step by contacting everyone who indicated an interest in Public Engagement when they joined ACT. We will continue to produce content for the website and for other media whenever we can and would love to hear from anyone who has something to say about climate change or biodiversity, or wants to share information about relevant groups and activities they are involved with. 

We also continue to be involved in local events organised by other community groups such as

Turn the Tide and the Great Big Green Week. If you would like to help with an event or to share your views on environmental issues, contact Pauline.

Teignbridge Wildlife Wardens

The Wildlife Warden scheme has been running since autumn 2020 and held a celebration in January (pictured below) to mark its success, and to say goodbye to scheme coordinator Flavio.

 There are now more than 100 Wildlife Wardens, involved in lots of different projects. One project has achieved great results: the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) is registering three new County Wildlife Sites as a result of work by Wildlife Warden surveying teams. Two of the sites are meadows beside the River Teign, and the third is Blackley Wood in Trusham. DBRC has been in touch about some more possible sites for this spring/summer. Visit the website to find out more.

Economy Group

Formally known as “Economy and Business” this group has been on ice for a while, but we feel it’s time people are made aware of how our outdated economic system is not only the driving force behind the climate and ecological crisis but is the last thing we should be using to get us out of it.

The group will explore and promote the work of 21st century economists offering new ideas, and provide guidance to ACT’s wider audience without the smoke, mirrors and myths employed by those wishing to maintain the status quo. Check out the Facebook page and future newsletters for updates and contact Paul with any thoughts and suggestions.

4Fs Group, covering Farming, Food, Forestry and Fisheries

This group’s main focus has been on farming, as there is a lot of uncertainty linked to the change in farming subsidies. We have run a series of events for local farmers on regenerative agriculture, giving them an opportunity to discuss new ideas and exchange knowledge. We hope to run a couple more. 

The food sub-group has been looking for ways to encourage local people and organisations to buy local food. We would like to establish links to schools and other ‘buying groups’, enhance the provision of local food markets and foster discussions with the public about local food.

The forestry sub-group hasn’t been active recently, but there are lots of tree planting schemes happening. If you are interested please look into Park Life SW events

The fisheries sub-group is involved in the West Country Rivers Trust and River Teign Restoration Project citizen science projects to measure water quality in different river catchments. Members have also taken part in consultations about the dredging of the Exmouth Marina and we hope to organise a meeting about the restoration of seagrass beds in our estuaries.

To find out more about 4Fs or get involved please contact Betina.

Liaison with Teignbridge District Council

ACT was originally set up to support TDC after it made its Climate Emergency declaration in 2019, and has met with relevant councillors and officers on a monthly basis from the outset. The meetings alternate between climate issues and ecological issues, with a presentation at each, usually by a council officer.The most recent presentation was on the progress of TDC’s Carbon Action Plan. In the summer of 2022, we met at Teignmouth Lido to see progress on the installation of heat pumps and solar panels (pictured).

Liaison with other groups

ACT keeps in contact with other groups so we can work together to address the climate and ecological emergency.

  • ACT attended a protest gathering about River Teign Pollution held on 28th January. This was a joint Community Action with many groups among the 200+ people who were present. A blue plaque in the style of English Heritage was one of around 90 such plaques unveiled around the country calling out local MPs who voted against protection for rivers. 
  • Coming up: The Big One Protest. A mass action and “Movement of Movements” is planned for 21st-24th April in London. The intention is to hold a peaceful gathering of around 100,000 people around the Houses of Parliament. The aim is to achieve a ‘critical mass’ creating a moment that is impossible for politicians to ignore. All major environmental and climate concerned groups will be represented and minor ones too! A number of local people will be attending. Please get in touch with Mandy Cole if you want to join up with them. You will have to arrange your own transport and accommodation, although there may be coaches going from Exeter/Totnes.
  • Women’s Institute: We are working with the regional WI on a variety of projects and linking up with their climate ambassadors.

If you have any spare time and would like to get involved in our activities please let us know.


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