Environmental Performance Highlight Report August – October 2020

This report provides a quarterly update on Devon County Council’s (DCC’s) corporate Environmental Performance programme. The report is split into topics (e.g. Energy, Procurement, Waste & Resources) and gives a short update on the individual projects we are running to improve environmental performance of that topic.


August – October 2020

Programme’s Aims

The Environmental Performance programme embeds the principles of the Environmental Policy throughout the Authority and champions the consideration of environmental issues within the Authority’s policy and strategy development, and operational procedures.

It develops and implements policies and action plans that respond to the Environmental Policy and improve the Authority’s environmental performance.

Project Colour Key

Each project is assigned a colour to indicate its current status. The key is as follows:

Green 🟢 – Project is performing well. There may be minor issues that do not affect project viability or timescales.

Amber 🟠 – Issues have arisen that affect the time, cost or scope of the project. However, these can be dealt with by the Environmental Performance Management Group. The Environmental Performance Board should be notified.

Red 🔴 – Significant issues that cannot be handled solely by the Environmental Performance Management Group. The Environmental Performance Board must be engaged to assess the situation.


Energy Efficiency [Green 🟢]

Phase 1 of the County Hall windows energy efficiency improvement works has completed.

ZebCat 2 has been successful in obtaining funding. Awaiting contractual details.

Bids will be developed and submitted to the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to deliver deep retrofits to five DCC buildings, delivering energy reduction of about 70%.

Lucombe House refurbishment delayed due to COVID but has restarted.

Corporate Renewables [Green 🟢]

Business case is being developed for new solar PV arrays on the roofs of DCC salt depots. Hope to submit bids to the Corporate Capital Group by the end of October to make use of some of the £1.5m climate change allocation.

Procurement lawyers have confirmed that a Synthetic Power Purchase Agreement does not need to be procured which is an important step in being able to develop our proposal to achieve our renewables target through facilitating new, local, community-owned renewable energy. This will also set a template for other public sector organisations in Devon.

Held a webinar through the AgroRes project to raise the profile of the opportunity to collect waste gas from agricultural slurry pits to then generate energy for use on or off site by buildings, machinery and/or vehicles. Over 30 people attended and we’re now looking into the feasibility of doing this on the County Farms estate.

Electric Vehicle Charging [AMBER 🟠]

StreetHUBZ project to install on-street vehicle charging is on hold until terms can be agreed between the two main commercial partners.

Planning application for solar PV car ports has been delayed due to COVID impacting on meeting availability with Historic England. A meeting is now scheduled to discuss Taw View and we hope for a date soon for County Hall.

Locations for charging points for fleet vehicles have been developed.

Street Lighting [GREEN 🟢]

Objective is to retrofit 100% of remaining all and part-night lighting with LED lamps. Work is ongoing across the county.

Energy Upgrades in the Schools Estate [GREEN 🟢]

Identified approximately 13 potential schemes in the 2021/22 capital maintenance programme that might benefit from additional capital investment to benefit carbon reduction targets. NPS will be undertaking preliminary assessments.

Identifying priority schools for potential inclusion in the “Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund” bid to government.


County Council Travel Plans for Strategic Work Locations [GREEN 🟢]

Majority of staff are continuing to work remotely due to social distancing requirements and therefore the implementation of the Travel Plans is taking stock of what this means for how our strategic work locations will be used post COVID.

Waste and Resources

Establish a New Reuse Policy [Green 🟢]

In progress but no further activity this quarter. The waste team worked with facilities to arrange for surplus furniture from the refurbishment of Lucombe House to be reused.

Establish a waste/recycling data management system [Amber 🟠]

Data records are taking shape. The Devon Norse contract arrangements are being reviewed. The waste team has fed into this regarding desired waste key performance indicators.

The waste analysis, to look at the composition of the refuse from County Hall, was planned for March 2020, has had to be postponed until we know more about how buildings will be used after social distancing.


New Procurement Strategy [Green 🟢]

Revised procurement strategy has been completed. This incorporates the actions for procurement that are within the Carbon Reduction Plan. Engagement with wider parts of DCC will occur in the coming months.

Environmental Risk

Produce a Template for Service-Level Climate Adaptation Risk Assessments [Amber 🟠]

No further progress this quarter.

Enhance Procedures for Reporting and Learning from Environmental Incidents and Near Misses [Amber 🟠]

No further progress this quarter.


Water Resource Management Surveys [Amber 🟠]

South West Water has provided the building data and so now finding a framework from which we can procure a Water Resource Management Survey contractor.

Countryside and Heritage

Support the delivery of the Devon Ash Dieback Action Plan [Green 🟢]

Public launch of Saving Devon’s Treescape project held in early October and the plans for this winter’s planting have been finalised including free tree handouts. The first tree nursery has also been established.

Implement an Enhanced Monitoring System for all County, Waste and Mineral Development [Amber 🟠]

Need to produce a prioritised list of sites to monitor so that the limited resource can be used most effectively. No progress this quarter.

Pilot the Valuation of Natural and Cultural Assets in Part of the County Farms Estate [Green 🟢]

The Environmental Land Management Scheme trial is now underway. Contractors to provide advice to land managers have been appointed by Natural England and farms will be recruited in the coming months.

Review the Land Drainage Consent Process to Ensure Compliance with Statutory Environmental Requirements [Amber 🟠]

Review is underway but no progress this quarter due to staff resource focussed on the climate emergency.

Extend the use of the Environmental Review tool to Built Environment Team and the Public Rights of Way Maintenance activity to Ensure a Proportionate Environmental Review Occurs [Green 🟢]

After a period of dormancy this project is moving forwards. Meetings with the Built Environment team are scheduled for October.

Addressing Light Pollution [Green 🟢]

Officers from DCC Highways, Engineering Design Group and Environment Group are working together on a DCC Lighting and Environment Paper to supplement DCC’s Lighting Policy. The Paper will capture what DCC is already doing to minimise environmental impacts of light pollution and will document current internal procedures and guidance applied when designing schemes.

Opportunity will also be taken to include a short, plain English guide to lighting and the environment (explaining lumens, kelvins etc) and to highlight key Devon sensitivities relating to wildlife and dark skies.

The draft paper is with the Environment Group currently.

A ‘Devon Dark Skies Week’ is happening at the end of October; although done in the name of the Local Nature Partnership, the main work is being led by DCC, with this intended to raise wider awareness of this light pollution issue.

Embodied Carbon

Civils Activity [Green 🟢]

Highways, Development and Infrastructure (HDI) and Skanska have partnered up to look at the opportunities available to reduce embodied carbon in civil engineering.

Top 10 Average Carbon Output Calculations
HDI have identified the top ten most carbon-intensive works by using a red, amber, green system.
Work has been ongoing to develop a benchmark for carbon output on these ten activities. This work continues, with assistance from contractors and Exeter University. In October a template and standard approach for patching repairs was agreed. This will now act as the base for the remaining 9 activities that need development.

Further Activity Prioritisation
Work to prioritise the next 10 top carbon hotspots (works types) needs to be completed. A subgroup to the Carbon Reduction Board will be looking at this during October to December. A report is expected to be made back to the board in January 2021.

Carbon Impact Assessment Tools
Information on various tools and processes available in the industry to assist with the assessment of carbon levels has been collated. The project requires a fuller in-depth understanding of what is available, focusing in on assistance at 2 stages:

1. During the engineering design stage of a scheme
2. At the population of potential works programmes stage and budgets being set.

Officers are being identified to investigate the mechanisms available. This will include linking with other local authorities and contractors/construction companies to identify good practice. A report back to the Carbon Reduction Board is expected in January 2021.

Comms Strategy
The project has the potential for a significant change of working practice as well as a cultural change to how construction works are planned and designed. A communication strategy is to be developed to support teams and individuals through the change. First publication to be sent to staff in November. This will be a ‘setting the scene’ communication, outlining project timelines and objectives.