Reducing Emissions

Here is a list of key initiatives the council is implementing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Devon.

Reducing the Council’s Emissions

Row of streetlights with a dark grey sky in backgroundEvery one of Devon County Council’s 79,000 streetlights is being converted to low carbon LEDs. Once complete by March 2024, the authority will have reduced the carbon emissions generated by its street lighting by over 75 per cent, reducing carbon emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.  Street lights away from main routes switch off from 00:30 – 05:30, and those that remain lit dim to 50% of their full brightness.

Energy upgrade works were completed at 9 corporate buildings during 2022. Measures that have been installed include wall insulation (cavity and external), high-performance windows and doors, LED lighting, heat recovery systems, heat pumps (replacing gas boilers) and solar panels.

Row of electric fleet vehicles, white vans, in car park.

Eighteen electric vehicles have replaced diesel vehicles in the council’s vehicle fleet and a further ten are expected to be ordered during 2023. We are replacing diesel vehicles as they get to the end of their life as replacing a vehicle unnecessarily causes an increase in carbon emissions due to the energy and materials required to manufacture a new vehicle.

We’re reviewing our road maintenance procedures – the materials we use, how they’re produced, how they’re used, how they’re applied, the labour required, the time it takes, how long they last, everything – to assess the carbon impact of the work we do. We’ve developed a ‘carbon calculator’ to work out what the carbon impact is of maintenance and new build jobs. And having worked that out, we can, and are already, working out how to do those jobs with far less carbon impact on the environment.

Innovative proposals for the A382 link road development near Newton Abbot to become the UK’s first “carbon negative” highway have received Government support. We have been successful in our £3.7 million bid for the project to decarbonise the construction and maintenance of the road. The ambitious A382 scheme aims to show that moving towards carbon negative highways is possible without the need for offsetting – providing a “live laboratory” opportunity to promote change in the design, construction and maintenance of roads.
More information is available in the latest Environmental Performance programme highlight report.

The council’s carbon footprint is 53% below 2012 levels.

Reducing Emissions from Buildings

Cross section of a wall with timber frame and fibrous cavity wall insulation insideThe Zero Energy Buildings Catalyst programme has demonstrated the retrofit of domestic and non-domestic buildings to achieve substantial reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions. ZEBCat has retrofitted 15 homes in Devon using the Energiesprong approach, a first for the south west, and supported at least 80 enterprises in Devon to engage with new models of delivering whole-house retrofit at scale.

Energy Saving Devon logo, roof and chimney shape with red, orange, yellow bars.Energy Saving Devon is a free advice service supported by Devon County Council to facilitate and support the upgrading of Devon’s homes. It includes a Plan Builder that helps you identify where the opportunities are to make your home warmer, reduce your CO2 emissions and cut your energy bills. This is tailored around what we know about your property and can highlight the opportunities and likely costs of improving your home – empowering you to upgrade your home.

Reducing Emissions from Transport

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) are being prepared for Plymouth, Torbay, Barnstaple and Bideford, Heart of Teignbridge and Exeter.

Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash - person walking along road 50pcThese will:

  • Provide a network plan for walking and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core zones for further development.
  • Design a prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for future investment over the short, medium and long term.
  • Ensure that consideration is given to cycling and walking within local and neighbourhood plans and transport policies and strategies.
  • Make the case to government for future funding for walking and cycling infrastructure.

Electric car charge point painted on green paving tiles.Devon County Council (DCC) is working with local authority partners to install on-street and off-street electric vehicle charging in residential areas and car parks across Devon.

Woman cyclist on road holding out arm to indicate intention to turn rightDevon County Council delivers children’s Bikeability and adult cycle training. Bikeability provides children with important skills to help them cycle more safely and more often. Devon County Council has now helped over 70,000 children take part in the free training since 2006.

There has been a big rise in the number of homes and businesses taking up superfast broadband services thanks to the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. This is reducing the need for people to travel to access services and for work.

Okehampton Train Station, Chris Saville (owned by DCC). People in smart clothes standing on Okehampton train platform.New railway stations are being progressed, including Marsh Barton and a second station at Okehampton. The existing Okehampton station has been reopened and there are aspirations for Tavistock and Cullompton to reopen, too.

Reducing Emissions from Waste

Energy from waste building, looks like a large factory building with a chimney and pylon close byThe opening of a waste transfer station at Brynsworthy, Barnstaple, in February 2019 marked the end of household ‘black-bag’ waste being sent to landfill in Devon. All ‘black-bag’ waste is now processed in Energy from Waste facilities where it is converted into electricity.

Recycle Devon is a campaign supported by local authorities in Devon that promotes sustainable waste management to the public.  The campaign has an education element that provides workshops, assemblies, events and site visits for schools and youth groups, including a new Scouts badge. These have contributed to a recycling rate of 56% in Devon, ensuring Devon remains one of the best performing counties in England.

Devon Reuse Project – this promotes the reuse of items rather than their disposal, thereby reducing the carbon emissions associated with disposing of waste and manufacturing new items. The Project gives support to repair cafes and reuse groups, organises events, skill sharing, Devon Upcycling Day and improving reuse at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Supporting Low Carbon Energy

The Dextco project aims to refurbish the energy centre at Wonford hospital and deliver a districting heating network to take heat from the hospital to the city centre. Partners in Dextco are the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, University of Exeter and Teignbridge District Council.

Devon has more grassroots energy organisations than any other county, and is leading the UK’s community energy revolution. Devon County Council has contributed to this success through offering grants, training opportunities, consultancy support and networking since 2011.

Solar panel installation on a roof of house, by 3 menMore than 500 Devon homeowners have taken a huge step in reducing their carbon footprint and fuel bills after installing solar panels as a group-buying scheme.

The scheme, Devon Solar Together, invited homeowners across the county to ‘club’ together to enable them to buy high-quality solar panels at a lower price than they would have otherwise been able to obtain. Almost 7,000 panels have been installed across the 535 homes with a total installed capacity of 2065kW – equivalent to a small solar farm.