Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter - South Hams

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency News Update

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4th August 2020

Reducing our Carbon Footprint and increasing Biodiversity

This is the first of many Climate Change and Biodiversity updates we will be providing as part of our commitment to engage our residents and businesses in tackling the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency.

This newsletter will run monthly and will be a place for us to update you on what we are doing at South Hams District Council, what things are going on around the District, what's going on nationally and things, you, our residents and businesses can be doing to reduce your carbon footprint and manage your land to improve the environment and its biodiversity.

If you have anything you would like to include in this newsletter then contact our Climate Change Specialist by email here and follow us on Twitter and Facebook

New ‘rapid’ Electric Vehicle (EV) Charge Points in Ivybridge

electric car

Cutting-edge ‘rapid’ Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points have been installed for public use at three council car parks in South Hams and Teignbridge.  

EV users can now charge their electric vehicles at the Ivybridge’s Glanvilles Mill car park, Chudleigh Library car park and Buckfastleigh’s Mardle Way car park.

The £175,000 project is a partnership of Devon County Council (DCC) Teignbridge District Council, and South Hams District Council and follows funding from Highways England. 

The ‘rapid’ charge points are one of the fastest chargers available and will be operated by Swarco and are compatible with all EVs currently on the market. 

EVs should have an 80 per cent charge within 30 minutes, depending on weather conditions. 

This scheme is the latest example of DCC and the district councils working together to deliver EV charging points across Devon. 

DCC is also and the district councils are working together to deliver the government funded Deletti project, the first phase of which aims to deliver at least 25 charging points in public carparks across the county from early next year. 

And DCC is working with the private sector on the government-funded ‘Street Hubz’ project which aims to deliver at least 100 on-street EV charging points in Exeter from next year. 

All three projects are part of local authority efforts to help reduce carbon emissions in Devon.

Last year DCC declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ and formed the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG). 

The DCERG is a group of 25 influential business groups, public sector bodies and councils - including Devon County Council Teignbridge District Council and South Hams District Council. 

They are working together to reduce carbon emissions and create a Devon Carbon Plan – a road map to carbon neutrality.    

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said “I recognise the difficulty in encouraging more people to use electric cars until there are more charging points and that’s why we are working closely with our district and government partners to deliver charge points in prime locations such as this.   

“While the government has committed to banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, we want more people to start using electric vehicles long before that. 

“Fewer petrol and diesel cars will lead to a reduction in emissions, cleaner air and an improved quality of life for all residents.”

South Hams District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Cllr Keith Baldry, said “It’s really important to us to deliver as many electric vehicle charging points across the District as quickly as we can.  The charging points in Ivybridge are a good starting point towards us reducing our carbon footprint. They are perfect for the town but also for travellers on the nearby A38 corridor. 

“We are committed to our Climate Change and Biodiversity Plan and have already started to change over some of our fleet to electric vehicles.”

Council Updates


South Hams District Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency on 25 July 2019 and committed to develop an action plan (‘the Plan’).

The draft plan was subsequently adopted on 19 December 2019 and, at the same meeting, the Council resolved to develop a Strategy Framework and consult on the plan.

The Council considered an update on the Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan at their meeting on the 16 July 2020.

While progress has been made, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that officer and Member resources have been focused on the Council’s response phase and the provision of support to residents and businesses.

The Council continues to play a key role, alongside partners, in responding to the short, medium and long term impacts of the pandemic and at this stage all plans need to remain flexible.

The full report to Council can be found here 

The report to Council recommended an amended timeline for completion of some elements of the work while seeking Members views on the draft Strategy. The report also provided an update on the consultation on the draft action plan and an update on the appointment of the Council's new Climate Change Specialist which took place during lockdown

The report also highlighted the correlation between the Council’s emerging Recovery and Renewal Plans and the draft Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy. It is predicted that these areas of work will converge over time, both locally and nationally, as part of a wider ‘green recovery’.

It was then agreed that;

1.      That the progress on the development of the draft Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy be noted;

2.      That the feedback from the consultation on the draft Action Plan exercise undertaken in Quarter 4 of 2019/20 be noted;

3.      That the Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group be requested to update the Strategy and Action Plan in light of the consultation responses and report back to the Council meeting on 24 September 2020;

4.      That the correlation between the Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy and the Emerging Recovery and Renewal Plans be recognised and that, in developing and implementing its plans, including working towards a resilient green and sustainable economy, it will engage with local businesses, organisations and residents;

5.      That the consultees or their representatives be invited to address the Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group by means of a remote meeting within the next six weeks.  The meeting be subject to a protocol which provides for each address to be no longer than 5 minutes;

6.      That the membership of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group be increased to eight Members, with Cllr Rose being nominated by the Opposition Group and Cllr Brown being nominated by the Conservative Group.

South West Food Hub

south west food hub

The South West Food Hub have launched their new website

Visit their website here for more information about where to buy and sell local food to reduce food miles and also places to source and donate surplus food.

Citizen Science

There are two citizen science projects underway at the moment, anyone can take part, its a great way to involve yourself in scientific research and fit it around your own schedule.

peacock butterfly

First up, is the Big Butterfly Count being run by the charity Butterfly Conservation, there's only a week left running on this project, it ends on Sunday 9 August.

Follow the link to take you to the website 

1. Download the handy butterfly ID chart or the free app for iOS and Android to identify and record the butterflies you spot.

2. choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes.

3. Add your counts here on the website or via the app and look at the fascinating interactive map to see how your data is contributing to conservation science and research

nature walk

Next up is Nature Up Close and Personal: A Wellbeing Experiment

This project is a collaboration between the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), the University of Derby and the British Science Association (BSA) which is investigating the relationship between nature and people’s wellbeing.

During the period of lockdown, many people have learned or rediscovered just how important nature and natural, publicly accessibly spaces are to happiness and wellbeing, as lockdown is eased it is important to remain engaged with nature, what better way to do this than taking part in a wellbeing experiment?

Volunteers from across the UK are needed to take part in simple, 10-minute, nature-based activities for five days across one week, before 25 August 2020. Participants will then be asked to feedback on their experience using an online form. 

The best thing is that a private garden or access to a large open space is not required – a local park, patch of weedy ground, or even a balcony is all that is needed.

Joining instructions can be found here 

Upcoming Events


Are you interested in the carbon impacts associated with recreational and support boats? Then a free online workshop which explores the issues, the needs, the technology and the gaps of decarbonising boating will be for you

This free workshop will be held on Thursday 6 August 2020 at 11 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m.

Interested? You can sign up here

This Month's Tips

white clover

White Clover is flowering right now and is typically in full bloom between May and October. While its often considered a familiar 'weed', having these small plants and letting them grow in your garden can provide a vital source of food for Common Blue butterfly and bumblebees. 


Overheating Inside the Home?

While temperatures in recent weeks have been about average, studies show that in the UK we will likely see hotter, drier summers. As more and more people are either currently working at home or likely to be working from home in the future as businesses and organisations look to reduce their own operational carbon emissions, many people are likely to encounter uncomfortable home working conditions when the temperature rises outside. Here are some tips to keep your home cool as naturally as possible

1. Reconsider when to open your windows.

Opening your windows at the first sign heat, while tempting, this can often cause more harm than good. To keep cool, you need to keep the hot air out, this means that keeping windows shut where you can, especially south facing windows, along with keeping blinds or curtains closed during the day will reduce the heat inside your home. At night time, once the temperature has dropped, you can open everything up. It the temperature remains too high or uncomfortable and you need to open a window, do so in a way that encourages a draft, such as opening windows at opposite sides of the house, along with internal doors, so the air can move which is cooler.

2. Appliance Usage

You may be surprised just how much heat some of your common home electrical appliances can give off. Switching them off completely (not on standby) will reduce internal heat gain

3. Water and Plants

Leaving bowls of water lying around the house along with planting trees outside and having house plants can act as natural cooling for your home


Ditch the car?

Reducing car use for short trips can save up to a whopping 2 tonnes of CO2 per person, per year if a person were to live car free (click here for more information). It can be a hard habit to break but a worthwhile one to break if you can, the simplest way to do this is to build a new habit into your routine.

Is there something you can easily walk to or cycle to that doesn't take too long? a short shopping trip perhaps? 

Every change, no matter how small it may be can amount to large greenhouse gas emissions savings if we are all able to make small changes where we can.

save 5 litres

Save 5 Litres of Water Challenge

South West Water has seen a large increase in water use over the past few months. Small changes in water use make a big difference when multiplied by their 1.8 million customers. If every one of thier customers saved 5 litres of tap water a day, that would save nearly 10 million litres. From quicker showers, changes in flushing habits to being smarter with water in the garden - whatever your lifestyle there’s lots of  simple things you can do to save water.

South West Water are running a competition to win a £100 shopping voucher. Not only will participating offer a chance at winning, taking part will also contribute to reduced water use and the associated energy demands which come from treating water and providing clean water.

Interested in taking part? then follow the link here to enter

New Research and Publications

Increasing Influence of Climate Change on UK Climate


The Met Office has recently published its sixth report in the State of the UK Climate Series. This report confirms that 2019 was the 12th warmest year in a series from 1884.

Although this sits outside the top 10 warmest years in this series, 2019 set four UK high temperature records, with a new winter record of 21.2 degrees Celsius on 26 February at Kew Gardens in London and a new all-time record of 38.7 degrees Celsius on 25 July at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. 2019 was also also among the least snowy years on record but also one of the wettest across parts of northern England, which had its wettest autumn since 2000, overall England and Wales had its fifth wettest autumn in a series from 1766.

The Woodland Trust also contributed to the report to show how the changing climate is effecting our trees, and in 2019 they found that the first leaves appeared on trees nearly 10 days earlier compared to a baseline period.

Mike Kendon, lead author of the report for the Met Office said; “Our report shows climate change is exerting an increasing impact on the UK’s climate. This year was warmer than any other year in the UK between 1884 and 1990, and since 2002 we have seen the warmest ten years in the series. By contrast, to find a year in the coldest ten we have to go back to 1963; over 50 years ago.”

Interested in reading more? the full report can be found here

Researchers Narrow the Range on Climate Sensitivity


Newly published research titled ''An assessment of Earth's climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence'' has sought to improve our understanding of the Earth's Climate Sensitivity. Climate Sensitivity is a measure of how much the Earth will warm if the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is maintained at double the level compared to pre-industrial times. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change currently uses the reference period 1850–1900 to represent pre-industrial temperature. The Met Office has a useful summary in more detail on the subject of Climate Sensitivity here

What the study has concluded is that if human activities (such as burning gas, oil, coal and increasing the rate of deforestation, to name a few) continue to push carbon dioxide levels to double the level of pre-industrial levels in the long term, then the Earth's global average temperature is likely to rise between 2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius. The previous estimated range was 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius, which was first laid out in a study in 1979 by the US National Academy of Sciences led by US meteorologist Jules Charney. This new study therefore suggests a narrower likely range of warming with the lower end of the range rising, meaning scientists are more confident that global warming will not be as small as previously thought.

An article about the research can be found here at Science Magazine and here at Science Daily and a more detailed guest post by the authors of the study at Carbon Brief here

UK Electricity Grid's Carbon Emissions Could Turn Negative by 2033

national grid report

A new report by the National Grid sets out its vision for an 'emissions negative' grid by 2033. Their vision includes more electric vehicles along with heat pumps, hydrogen boilers and district heat connections replacing gas boilers and a power sector with net negative emissions.

Interested in reading more? a full report and a shorter condensed report with key highlights can be found here