West Devon 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 West Devon Borough Council and what things are going on around the district and further afield.

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 Update


The Council Plan 2024-2028 and its supporting Year 1 Delivery Plan was considered by Hub committee on Tuesday 30 January, with recommendations that Council should adopt both plans and approve the funding needed to bring them into action.

The Council Plan has eight key priorities which include tackling housing challenges, protecting the environment, strengthening the local economy and enhancing health and wellbeing across the Borough. This will be underpinned by delivering good quality, value for money services which are accessible to West Devon communities.

The Council have secured funding to deliver a number of projects to support the Borough on the journey to net zero. One such scheme includes working with Plymouth and South Devon Community forest to identify opportunities for tree planting and increasing biodiversity across the Borough. The launch of a thermal imaging camera lending scheme also allows residents and communities to identify heat loss in their homes.

The plan also identifies projects like the Okehampton Transport Hub, local cycle and walking plans, and working in partnership with Network Rail and Devon County Council on proposals for rail links to Tavistock are just some of the few currently in action.

A revised Climate Change and Biodiversity Action Plan will be produced this year to build on this to set clearer direction for climate action over the next few years.

Click here to find the plans and the minutes from the meeting.

Events and Webinars


Food security under pressure: UK fruit & veg in an era of climate change

Friday 23 February 2024 10:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m

Food system transformation models often rest on us all eating more fruit and veg and less meat and dairy. But even if consumers were persuaded to choose a more plant-based diet, our supply of fresh produce is on a knife edge: Mounting pressures from Brexit to supermarkets, and labour to energy costs, mean many UK growers have left glasshouses, fields, or orchards unplanted or unsown for two years now. In addition, we rely heavily on imports (around 80% for fruit, 45% for veg) from countries that are projected to suffer large-scale drying and other climate-related shocks and stresses. Add to that an ever more fractured world with traditional trade routes disrupted, and there is a big case for increasing our own domestic production. But how? What are the challenges? How can research and academia contribute?

In this two-part webinar, there are two great speakers with significant first hand experience of working in fresh produce, and who are both sought-after voices to talk about these topics in the media and to government.

click here to find out more and register.

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

Job Opportunity

Devon County Council are advertising for a Nature Recovery Communications and Engagement Officer, through an Exeter University intern scheme.  An exciting opportunity for a recent graduate with a passion for communication and nature.  Priority will initially be to help develop the Devon Local Nature Recovery Strategy (website and lots of workshops) but also to support the Local Nature Partnership communications and potentially also the Exe Estuary Partnership, Devon Maritime Forum and other (such as Biodiversity Net Gain). 

The deadline is Sunday 25th February. Click here to find out more.


Leonard Laity Stoate Charitable Trust - No deadline

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

Grants from £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.