South Hams Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter February 2024

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency

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February 2024

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 South Hams District Council and what things are going on around the district.

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, contact our Climate Change Specialist by email here

Council Updates

South Hams District Council’s Executive has set out its priorities for the next four years


On Thursday 25 January, the South Hams Executive considered The Council Plan 2024/25 and supporting Year 1 delivery plan.

A key priority is the Climate Emergency. It recognises the inevitability of climate change, and the Council highlighted the importance of a measurable strategy to adapt to ever-changing conditions.

Using funds from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the Rural England Prosperity Fund, the Council is actively supporting a wide range of initiatives, including improvements in agricultural practices, driving forward change and supporting the development of community owned renewables.

Over the next year, further actions will be developed through a revised Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy.

To find out more information on each of the reports discussed during Executive, go to:

The meeting can be viewed in full on South Hams District Council’s YouTube channel

Climate Change and Biodiversity Locality Fund

Our new Climate Change and Biodiversity Locality Fund is now available.

Just like the Sustainable Community Locality Fund, the fund provides each District Councillor with a budget to enable them to support a wide range of projects to help us tackle our climate and ecological emergency declarations.

The project should meet one of the objectives in the South Hams Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy. These are:

  • Reducing carbon emissions from households, businesses or organisations, including community and voluntary groups
  • Supporting behaviour change and sustainable living 
  • Projects which will result in removal of carbon from the atmosphere through nature-based solutions or supporting improvements in biodiversity 
  • Providing education and awareness of the Climate and Ecological emergency through direct engagement with hard to reach groups and individuals
  • Projects which aim to help communities and species adapt to the effects of climate change 
  • Projects to help reduce organisational carbon footprints 

Each Councillor has a budget of £2,000 to help not for private profit groups or organisations to deliver community projects that benefit their ward or the wider local area.

Click here to apply.

Energy Saving Tips

Man holding radiator and paper

The Heating Hub website has some great tips for optimising your gas heating system, including:

  • Setting the correct flow temperature. This is the temperature your boiler heats up the water to before sending it off to your radiators. Often it's set too high, meaning your boiler isn't operating at full efficiency
  • Optimising thermostatic radiator valves (TRV). Ideally your TRVs should be set lower upstairs compared to downstairs

There's even a tool you can use on your phone or tablet to guide you in front of your boiler.

Click here to visit the Heating Hub.


totnes climate hub

The Totnes Climate and Ecology Projects Group

The Totnes Climate and Ecology Projects Group will hold its next meeting on Tuesday 20th February 6.30-8pm. It will take place at the Totnes Climate Hub, Babbage Room at the Mansion House, Fore St, Totnes. 

Subsequent meetings will take place regularly on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Climate Hub. The group invites you to come along if you feel you have time and energy to devote to projects.


Sustainable South Hams February Meeting

Change Makers: Climate Adaptation with the Bioregional Learning Centre

Wednesday 21 February 7:30 p.m to - 9:00 p.m

The new Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Strategy can act as a good basis for local action within smaller regions, presenting an opportunity to be proactive in our response to a changing climate. This online event, co-hosted with the Bioregional Learning Centre (BLC), will open up the conversation around how communities can become solutions-focused. For more detailed information, read our article from BLC here.

The event is free, but please book at the link or email to receive the meeting login details.

books library

Book Talk - Not the end of the World: how we can be the first generation to build a sustainable planet.

26 February 2024, 12:30 p.m - 1:30 p.m

We are bombarded by doomsday headlines that tell us the soil won't be able to support crops, fish will vanish from our oceans, that we should reconsider having children.

But in this talk, data scientist Hannah Ritchie, author of Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet will discuss with Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin School, that if we zoom out, a very different picture emerges.

They will discuss how the data shows we've made so much progress on these problems, and so fast, that we could be on track to achieve true sustainability for the first time in history and we can build a better future for everyone.

To register to watch live online on Crowdcast click here:
Not the end of the World: how we can be the first generation to build a sustainable planet


Leonard Laity Stoate Charitable Trust - No deadline

The Leonard Laity Stoate Charitable Trust makes small grants to charitable organisations in the South West of England.

Grants in the range of £100 to £2,000 are given to organisations carrying out small, innovative projects which support:

  • medical causes and people with disabilities
  • disadvantaged people
  • youth and children
  • Methodism and other churches
  • community projects
  • environment

The trust prefers to give one-off grants for a specific project or part of a project.

There is a strong preference for funding registered charities or those that are exempt such as churches, but other charitable organisations can also be supported.

Click here to find out more and apply.

Net-Zero Solutions Fund - Deadline 27 March 2024

Plymouth University is inviting applications to its Net-Zero Solutions Fund, which aims to support enterprises and researchers to work together to tackle net-zero challenges and exploit net-zero opportunities.

The fund is about finding solutions to issues faced by your business in attempting to achieve net zero. You could look at your company’s emissions and find solutions to reduce them, or explore new ways to use waste products produced by your business.

It's open to collaborations between enterprises throughout the South West (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset) and University of Plymouth researchers. It offers funding of up to £7,500 per company to cover researcher time, the cost of consumables and small items of equipment.

The funding is to be used towards the costs of employing the researcher. Up to 25% of your allocated funding can go towards consumables, including purchasing small items of equipment or accessing the University’s facilities and equipment.

Click here to apply and find out more.

New Research and Publications

Commuting by bike can improve mental health, with those who cycle to work less likely to be prescribed antidepressants


A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology has found that commuting to work by bike reduced mental ill-health.

While the benefits of active travel are well reported, previous studies used survey data with small samples or relied on self-reported health changes.

This study was a result of linking established data sets, linking commuting data from Glasgow and Edinburgh with mental health prescriptions from the NHS prescribing information system records, and comparing the averages of anti depressant prescriptions between different modes of travel.  

While the commuting data relies on self-reporting through the census and doesn't fully account for the frequency of commuting by bike, the data still showed a lower prescription rate among those who indicated they predominately commute to work by bike.

To read the study in full, click here.

Climate change: health effects in the UK


The Centre for Climate and Health Security (CCHS) has led on the development of this report, which brings together 15 independent chapters written by 90 experts from UK and international academic and research institutes. It has also brought together teams from across the UKHSA.

The potential impacts of climate change on health will be significant and wide-ranging.

The evidence is strongest for adverse impacts on health due to heat and cold (Chapter 2), flooding (Chapter 3), and vector-borne disease risks increasing under a warming climate.

Click here to read the studies.