Action Examples

Leading by example

  • Save energy - you’ll want to ensure your buildings are as energy efficient as possible. Swapping out bulbs for LED lighting is a quick easy win. Getting an energy audit is also worthwhile. Loans are available through Salix funding. You can find avenues for funding at the end. You can even look at generating renewable energy for your building(s). In addition to LED lights you could take out a contract with a supplier that only offers 100% renewable energy

  • Improve Biodiversity - Many town and parish councils manage their own bridleways, burial grounds, open spaces and village greens. All of these can be managed in ways to improve their biodiversity, such as reduce mowing. Buglife have many guides on this subject which can be found here https://www.buglife.org.uk/resources/publications-hub/habitat-management/ There’s a new biodiversity red list of threatened bird species in the UK (published 01 Dec 2021), species such as swifts and house martins are on this. On any suitable Council premises you could install some swift and martins nest boxes (RSPB and BTO both offer good advice).

  • Land use and hedge cutting.  Promote and suggest the growth of trees (about every 50 metres or so) along standard field and lane hedges where no trees mature at present. The annual Autumnal hedge ‘cutting’ prevents trees from maturing. This is such an advantageous way to grow more trees without the necessity to plant anew, it saves a long wait for saplings to grow and is cheaper. It’s an easy win to survey and mark a few good looking potential trees along boundaries. This requires councils to have positive and effective conversations with landowners (and highways). 

 

Reduce transportation emissions 

  • Councillor and Staff mileage - Councillors and staff could move around locally by bike or e-bike, opt to switch to an EV or use public transport. Timing meetings around available public transport times could encourage these choices, as can changing meeting times in the winter so councillors can safely walk or cycle. Opting to have more virtual meetings can also reduce transportation emissions. 

  • Aim to make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys within and between settlements. Parish footpath maps and signed routes encourage tourists to explore on foot. Parish councils can identify and advocate for improved footways and safer junction design. Cycle racks and lockers at public facilities help normalise cycling and encourage touring cyclists to stop. Facilitate events to encourage people to cycle, eg via the Big Bike Revival. The Slow Ways project aims to identify a national network of walkable routes. Sustrans publishes guidance on cycle infrastructure. 

  • EV Charging - Charging infrastructure can often be an issue in remote areas however, some help for EV charging is often provided through central government. The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme will soon be open to Local Authority applicants in 21/22 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/grants-and-loans/street-residential-chargepoint-scheme/. We are currently also building a database of Town and Parish Councils who are interested and have land or buildings available, for EV chargers. An open survey can be found here  ​​

  • Encourage use of public transport where it is available, and lobby for increased provision where it is not. This could include raising awareness of bus timetables (see https://www.traveldevon.info/bus/) among residents, businesses and tourists and ensuring bus stops are safely located and comfortable to wait at.

  • Speed Limits - Advocate for lower speed limits where this would improve road safety or residents people to have confidence to walk or cycle.

 

  • Car sharing schemes. Although they have yet to place vehicles and bikes in many of our towns and villages, promoting their services can demonstrate demand for services in your area. As a District Council we did run a survey with CoCars and CoBikes over the summer of 2021 and have some data available to show areas of interest. Please email climatechange@swdevon.gov.uk if you would like information for your area.

Be a change enabler!

  • Encourage community participation - allow members of the community to join your climate and biodiversity sub group to build participatory climate solutions. [Also] Find out how community organisations in your area are already acting for climate and nature invite them to collaborate. Examples include wildlife groups, Transition towns or villages, Eco-Churches, schools and youth organisations.

 

  • Normalise action - While most people now recognise the need for change to protect climate and nature, actually changing behaviour is difficult.  Showing sustainable choices as normal can strengthen collective commitment and accelerate change. For example, the Council could help showcase local examples of reducing home energy use, rewilding gardens, or reducing food waste.  

  • Talking and Support - People sometimes find it hard to talk about climate change. Parish councils are well placed to raise the issue in ways that chime with local values and experience. Climate Outreach provide useful guidance -eg “Rural Attitudes to Climate Change” and “Climate Visuals”.

  • Invite experts - There are a number of ‘green’ technology advice groups (such as the Big Energy Saving Network and local community energy groups such as Tamar Energy Community) who can be invited to Council meetings and events to provide information. In addition local residents who have already installed such renewable heat devices can be invited to discuss and recommend based on their own domestic energy changes.

  • Neighbourhood Planning - Whilst the Neighbourhood Planning process is very time consuming, it is often led by the town and parish councils. You can use this process to create climate friendly policy such as walking and cycling route designations or site allocations for community renewable development for example. The CSE have a guide to help.

  • Already have a Neighbourhood Plan? - conduct a 'green health check' of your Neighbourhood Plan using the Centre for Sustinable Energy's points-based scheme for parish councils to assess their neighbourhood plan for carbon resilience. This tool can be found here.

  • Commenting on planning applications - as a statutory consultee familiar with the local context and geography your Council can scrutinise and challenge claims made by developers about the sustainability of proposals. This might include drainage, the orientation of homes relative to the sun, distance to public transport, and routes for pedestrian and cycle access. In terms of assessing an application against Joint Local Plan Policy DEV32 (our low carbon policy), for major developments, some guidance can be found here and a checklist for minor planning applications can be found here