West Devon Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency

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August 2021

Reducing our Carbon Footprint and increasing Biodiversity

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter. This is a place for us to update you on what we are doing at West Devon Borough Council and what things are going on around the Borough. It will tell you 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.

Council Updates

Community Led Electric Car and Bike Club - Survey Launched


This survey is being promoted with West Devon Borough Council in collaboration with CoCars and CoBikes and would give affordable access to electric cars for everyone, whilst also supporting the shift to zero carbon transport. 

West Devon Borough Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency on 21 May 2019 and the Council is working hard to reduce the Borough's carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. As part of that aim, the Council continues to work with partners to drive forward that commitment. 

Since the announcement of the Government's 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, interest in electric cars has surged by 500%. However, they remain too expensive for many people. In addition, one third of households cannot charge a car at home. 

An electric car club would address these challenges by locating cars across the Borough, bookable from as little as half an hour for one all-inclusive price. This would give members access to electric cars without having to own one. 

Furthermore, by switching to using an electric car club and getting rid of a little used personal vehicle, members could save money whilst also helping reduce issues related to congestion, parking and pollution. 

The survey also asks if respondents would be interested in an electric bike share scheme. Because they are electrically assisted, the bikes are a great alternative to the car for many shorter trips including commuting, everyday errands and leisure trips.

West Devon Borough Council's Lead Member for Natural Environment, Cllr Lynn Daniel, said: "This is a perfect opportunity for West Devon residents to gain access to electric technology at a fraction of the cost. Electric vehicles are the way forward but not everyone has the money to invest as the prices are still too high for much of the population so this is a fantastic compromise. 

"I'd encourage residents to get involved in this survey so we can find out if you agree that sharing cars and bikes is a great option and the way forward for Climate Change. It seems like a win-win to me!"

The survey is available from https://bit.ly/ElectricWDevon until 24 August 2021. 

The survey is being run in partnership with Co Cars car club, a social enterprise that has an established network of low and zero emission cars across the South West. The company also runs the Co Bikes electric bike sharing scheme. The results of the survey will not only help establish the viability of the project but will also be shared with West Devon Borough Council to assist their planning.

Mark Hodgson, Managing Director of Co Cars, said: "Over the last 12 months, we have seen a huge surge of interest in our shared, electric cars and bikes from communities across the region. 

"We're really excited to see if we can bring them to West Devon as they would give people access to the latest technology at an affordable price, helping them save money and hassle when compared to owning a car." 

Keeping cool this summer


How to keep cool in hot weather - WITHOUT air conditioning

Researchers have concluded that room air conditioners alone are set to account for over 130 gigatons (GT) of CO2 emissions between now and 2050. That would account for 20-40% of the world’s remaining “carbon budget” under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Here are some tips to reduce impact on carbon emissions but also limiting the impact on water and energy:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Turn your hot water bottle into an ice pack. it might sound strange, but you can put a hot water bottle partially filled with water in the freezer and then stash this in your bed to cool the space

Available Funding

There are a range of funding opportunities on offer at the moment

Farming in Protected Landscapes - Apply between 1 July 2021 and 31 January 2022

Funding for farmers and land managers with projects that support nature recovery, tackle climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover nature and support sustainable farm businesses


Natural Capital Challenge Fund - Deadline 20 August 2021

This is a Devon County Council fund to support projects that use Natural Capital as a tool to create employment and skills


Community Corner


The Great Big Green Week, 18 – 26 September 2021

Just another reminder that the West Devon Borough Council's Climate Change and Biodiversity Forum is inviting community groups and town and parish councils to join a national week celebrating action on climate change, with events and actions that suit the local context. Tamar Energy Community (TEC) and Transition Tavistock have come up with some initial ideas, and will help co-ordinate publicity. 

A main focus of the week locally will be around ‘’Moths to a Flame’’ https://www.mothstoaflame.art/ - a creative community activity which joins local messages about tackling climate change into an art display at COP26 in Glasgow this November.

Art & Energy, supported by TEC and others can work with interested parish councils, schools and groups to develop their Moths in the lead up to Great Big Green Week, and invite venues to host mini-installations for communities to hang their moths during the week. This could be shops, halls, gardens: anywhere that can contribute to visibility. If you would like to be involved in this or have any suggestions contact  kate@tamarenergycommunity.com.  

There are more ideas, resources and publicity tools on https://greatbiggreenweek.com/. It would be great to have a range of enjoyable activities around the district to share, in or around 18th - 26th September. These may of course be a climate or nature focus within a regular event. If you're thinking of getting involved, do let us know (with the Great Big Green Week in subject line) by contacting us at ClimateChange@swdevon.gov.uk, and for events in the Tavistock area, info@transitiontavistock.org.uk.  

What's planned so far?

The three parishes of North Tawton, Sampford Courtenay and Bondleigh will be holding a number of events for The Climate Coalition's Great Big Green Week , 18th-26th September. The events so far include a bug hotel workshop, a climate talk by David Ramsden MBE, a repair cafe and a BBQ and music day when all the food consumed will have been locally produced. More events will soon be added. Full details can be seen on The Great Big Green Week website by clicking here.

people pedal

People Pedal Power

The mission of People Pedal Power is about highlighting that ‘People have Power’ and when people come together, meaningful change can be created. People Pedal Power is about calling for a greater level of community decision making and action

Organised by South Devon local, Jessie Stevens, the plan is to cycle from South Devon to towards Glasgow in the lead up to COP26 31st October to 12th November 2021. 

Jessie founded the project as a climate concerned youth wanting to get to COP and to add to the youth voice at the summit. However, she found it was difficult to get there in a sustainable way. Jessie has decided to cycle, taking one of the hardest ways, to highlight the lack of sustainable transport infrastructure, particularly in the South West. Due to this, one of the big messages is surrounding greener, accessible transport.

1 mile or 50, anyone is welcome to join the movement as she winds her way towards Glasgow in the weeks leading up to COP26. Think of it like a ‘tag team’ – people joining the ride for a few miles as it passes their area!

The infographic below found on the People Pedal Power website helpfully illustrates some of the challenges when it comes to travelling. 

cop26 travel


Join the campaign to demand climate action whilst cycling from Devon to COP26! To find out more you can find Jessie's website here.

New Research and Publications

Government publishes world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050


With just months to go until major climate summit COP26, the new plan published by the UK government on 14 July sets out a pathway to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways, for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050. 

The plan includes consulting on world-leading pledge to end the sale of all new, polluting road vehicles by 2040 and net zero aviation emissions by 2050. Smart electric vehicle charging that could reduce energy bills, and a commitment to electrify the entire fleet of government cars and vans by 2027, highlight ambition to tackle emissions

Cleaner air, healthier communities and tens of thousands of new green jobs are set to become reality thanks to the UK’s revolutionary Transport decarbonisation plan, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced on 14 July 2021.

Click here to read more.

Climate change continues to be evident across UK

met office

The Met Office has published its annual State of the Climate Report for 2020 which shows Climate Change is exerting increasing influence on UK. The report details that;;

  • 2020 was the least snowy years on record
  • The UK has had rise in sea level of 16.5cm since the start of the 20th Century
  • 2020 had the fifth wettest February on record and 6 of the 10 wettest years have occurred since 1998
  • 2020 was the third warmest year and all of the top 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002.

The greatest warming compared to 1961-1990 has been across the east Midlands and East Anglia where average annual temperatures have increased by more than 1°C, the map below shows the mean temperature annual average differences between 1991 to 2020 and 1961 to 1990

annual temp

Prof Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: “Publishing this data and updates to the trends in an international, peer reviewed journal offers scrutiny and validation of the work, ensures there is a permanent record of the report and increases the reach of this important work that can be cited in other scientific studies. The report can help to update government, businesses, scientists and the public about changes in our climate and the impacts. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the authors who compiled this report.”

to read more, you can find the full press release by clicking here.