John Hart: Last chance to comment on Devon’s climate problems

Published:
00:00 21 April 2022



We are all horrified by the terrible news and images from Ukraine that dominate our television, radio and newspapers.

Putin’s war is taking a terrible toll on the lives of millions of ordinary people who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace.

The county council has already agreed to do what we can to help the refugees arriving in this country and we are selling the small proportion of the investments our pension fund held in Russian stocks while ensuring that our chains of supply do not buy Russian products of products.

Even before invading Ukraine, Putin was effectively raising gas prices, and his war led to record prices for oil and gasoline.

In the long term, this means that we as a nation will need to reduce our reliance on imported energy and increase our supplies of sustainable energy for our homes, offices and transportation needs.

And these economic necessities dovetail perfectly with the measures we need to fight climate change.

Which makes it even more important that people have a say in how Devon can become net zero carbon.

I’ve written here before about how the county council was instrumental in setting up a citizens’ panel on climate change.

It involved 70 people, chosen to reflect the makeup of our Devon residents.

They had the opportunity to interview experts and came up with a series of proposals on how we reduce our carbon emissions.

They further refined their suggestions on three key issues: the use of onshore wind to generate electricity, retrofitting buildings to reduce their carbon emissions, and transportation.

It is vital that we take people with us if we are to succeed, which is why we have launched a new public consultation on these areas.

It runs until April 14 and will be your last chance to comment on Devon’s key climate issues before the final version of the Devon Carbon Plan is released.

You can participate on the website at www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk or read the materials in your local library or follow @devonclimateemergency on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

But I hear some people say less talk, more action. And that’s exactly what we did.

As a general council, we have already halved our carbon emissions since 2012.

We voted to declare a climate emergency in 2019 and are committed to becoming net zero carbon by 2030 – and that includes our supply chain.

As part of our £6million Covid Recovery Programme, we have allocated £300,000 to six local projects which will help create jobs and skills and improve and protect the local environment.

Projects include Devon Wildlife Trust’s Northern Devon Natural Solutions, which will help local landowners, farms and smallholdings restore habitat and create healthier ecosystems, and EcoLogic’s East Devon Conservation Grazing, which will employ and will train staff to establish a nature conservation grazing and re-grazing business in partnership with the RSPB and the East Devon District Council Campaign Service.

We have also created Devon Solar Together in partnership with our District Council colleagues to purchase solar panels in bulk and reduce costs for homeowners.

This resulted in 535 homes across the county having solar panels installed producing a total of 2065 kW – the equivalent of a small solar farm.

And we promoted Food Waste Action Week with tips and tricks to reduce food waste.

Our food and drink make up a large part of our greenhouse gas emissions and – in an era of rapidly rising food prices – reducing waste saves money while helping to slow the climate change.

Teresa H. Sadler