THE EXETER DIGEST

Exeter Digest #3: Devon Pension Fund fossil fuel investment - SW Exeter district heating network - Exeter local election results

The third edition of our essential newsletter offers something for everyone on sunny bank holiday weekend.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER   PLANNING POLICY   EXETER LOCAL PLAN   LIVEABLE EXETER   NET ZERO EXETER   LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY  

Welcome to the third edition of The Exeter Digest, Exeter Observer’s essential free email newsletter. Thanks for subscribing.

Feedback is welcome: please feel free to reply to this email or otherwise get in touch with any comments or suggestions you may have.

TOP STORIES

DEVON PENSION FUND’S FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT POSITION EXPOSED

We follow up on a February report which placed the Devon fund among the country’s largest local government pension fund fossil fuel investors with an assessment of whether Devon County Council’s subsequent decision to pursue a net zero 2050 investment strategy stands up to scrutiny.

We found that while shareholder support for Paris Agreement-compatible goals has increased, it has not prevented continuing oil and gas exploration, extraction, production or consumption, undermining the county council’s shareholder activist position, which is also not reflected in its fund manager’s view or voting. Shell and BP, in which the Devon fund has invested nearly £57 million of scheme members’ money, recently held AGMs which illustrate the point.

Warnings from climate and sustainability experts and investment analysts that emissions reductions goals will be missed have meanwhile intensified, as Devon County Council welcomes a £38 million Department for Transport road-building grant. Read the full story or join the conversation on Twitter.

SW EXETER DISTRICT HEATING NETWORK DITCHED

A plan to supply the South West Exeter development of 2500 homes with heat from the Marsh Barton waste incinerator which was announced in February this year has been abandoned because most of the property developers involved in the scheme are unwilling to accept modest additional up front costs.

Local authorities had promised £7.3 million to the project, which relied on the city’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions (with help from a new gas power plant) to provide what they described as “carbon emission-reducing” despite its dependency on burning rubbish and “innovative” despite two other similar existing local schemes. Read more on our website or join the conversation on Twitter.

DID EXETER’S LOCAL ELECTIONS RESULTS TELL A LABOUR SUCCESS STORY?

Exeter Labour lost just one seat in the city council elections and held all seven of its county hall seats, but on closer inspection its performance was more mixed than these headline results imply.

Check out our website for more Exeter psephology than you could ever want with more interactive web app controls than we could ever have imagined.

IS EXETER CITY COUNCIL GOING TO ABANDON ITS NET ZERO 2030 TARGET?

A report in March by the city’s Chief Executive said there was a high risk that the council will be unable to “deliver carbon neutral aspirations for Exeter by 2030”, citing Devon County Council’s draft plan statement that “net zero cannot be achieved by 2030”.

The review which accompanied the report suggested alignment with the Devon Carbon Plan, which is currently aimed at “a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050”, although any change in policy would require a decision by councillors.

A report on the city council’s “Net Zero Proposals” was scheduled for the Executive’s April meeting but then disappeared from the Executive forward plan before the local elections. It is now back in front of the Executive on 6 July, but will be discussed in private, with members of the public and press excluded. Read more on our website or join the conversation on Twitter.

PS The council leader’s post-election statement made only a single, passing mention of the net zero 2030 plan despite its front and centre prominence in the Exeter Labour election manifesto.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

DEVON CARBON PLAN CONSULTATION FINDS MAJORITY WANT NET ZERO BY 2030

The background to the story above. Devon Climate Emergency Response Group responded to its consultation findings by questioning whether a 2030 target is “realistic” and suggesting a “compromise position” on a decarbonisation date that “could be palatable to all of the organisations in the Devon Climate Emergency partnership”. This was despite only 13% of consultees supporting the government’s 2050 target.

STATISTICS IN THE BALANCE

An examination of Exeter City Council Chief Executive Karime Hassan’s selective use of statistics to prevent the city in flattering light while omitting important information about Exeter’s true economic and environmental position.

NOTES & SKETCHES

MARKING THEIR OWN HOMEWORK

Exeter City Council’s ruling Labour group reallocated the city’s committee seats at its annual meeting last week.

Council leader Phil Bialyk and executive city development portfolio holder Emma Morse retained their seats on the planning committee in defiance of national guidance from the Local Government Association Planning Advisory Service, and Labour members remain in the chairs of both of the council’s scrutiny committees.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Glenn Woodcock and Roli Martin of Global City Futures were invited to join the board which oversees the Devon Carbon Plan at its meeting last month and given the same decision-making powers as the rest of the board, which is almost exclusively composed of public sector organisations.

Top of the agenda? A presentation on “innovative approaches to financing projects being explored and trialled as part of the Exeter climate emergency plan”.

At the same meeting the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group decided to scrap the planned second Devon Carbon Plan public consultation, pending legal advice, which would mean no further opportunity for the public to respond to revised versions of the plan before it is adopted as policy.

ON THE AGENDA

NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT REQUIRED

As we go to press Exeter City Council’s planning committee is about to grant the university outline application for an enormous Streatham campus redevelopment between Cowley Bridge Road and Streatham Drive.

It involves the demolition of 30 buildings to construct approximately 50,000m2 of new student accommodation, and is half as large again as the 1,200 bedroom East Park development. The city council planning officer’s report is here.

The decision will be made alongside a related application to move the university’s estate services centre to the northern edge of the campus. The officer’s report on this is here.

NEW EXETER LOCAL PLAN TIMETABLE

Next Tuesday’s city council Executive meeting will discuss the timetable for delivering the new Exeter Local Plan. An issues consultation is scheduled for this September, a draft consultation for the following September, with publication and hearings in 2023 and adoption in June 2024. The report is here and the scheme here.

This is a very ambitious timetable by typical local plan development standards and may well be blown off course by the government’s controversial planning reform bill, which was included in the Queen’s speech a fortnight ago. More developer-friendly detail on this is due from MHCLG soon.

GESP REDUX

Back in Exeter the initial local plan consultation document is due for approval on 6 July, when the city council Executive will also consider the governance, resourcing and timetable arrangements for the East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge Joint Plan before a final decision is taken on 20 July.

LIVEABLE EXETER UPDATE

An update on the Liveable Exeter programme, delayed from 1 June, is also expected at the 6 July Executive meeting.

ON OUR READING LIST

HOW TO REBUILD THE UK ECONOMY I

The Resolution Foundation last week published the launch report of its two year Economy 2030 Inquiry, a collaboration with the LSE and Nuffield Foundation. It considers the context in which the current decade began and outlines the challenges facing the country during the next ten years.

It intends to produce economic reform proposals aimed at “strong, sustainable and equitable growth” alongside “significant improvements to people’s living standards and well-being”.

Top line: “Commitments to ‘build back better’ gloss over the reality that the pandemic has made many things harder to achieve. They skate over the extent to which path dependency, rather than policy makers’ actions, shape outcomes.

“They pretend choices about the UK’s competitive strengths can ignore the reality of a world economy being shaped by China, the EU and the US. And they downplay the very real trade-offs we face as the UK adapts to meet the challenges of the 2020s, and questions of power that determine whose interests prevail.”

HOW TO REBUILD THE UK ECONOMY II

On the other side of the aisle, the Confederation of British Industry this week published its take on what the country should do during the next ten years. Seize the Moment describes six opportunities, which it claims are worth around £700 billion, as “business-led prizes that the UK could capture by 2030”. It also offers recommendations to Government on how to accelerate its plan for growth which is called - yes, you’ve guessed it - “Build Back Better”.

PSEPHOLOGY UNLIMITED

UK in a Changing Europe kicked off a week-long Spotlight on British Politics series with a panel including John Curtice, Rob Ford, James Forsyth and Paula Surridge discussing what the 2021 elections mean for our political parties and the state of the union. Warning: this video contains essential insights into the post-Brexit political landscape.

NET ZERO WITHOUT NUCLEAR?

Veteran sustainability campaigner Jonathan Porritt recently decided to revisit the case for nuclear power to assess what has changed since he last examined the sector in 2012. His personally-authored report offers a very useful primer of the arguments.

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Exeter Article 4 Direction area July 2011 map

PLANNING & PLACE

St. James HMO conversion refusal overturned at appeal

Council failed to provide sufficient evidence to support 2012 planning policy introduced to limit impact of student occupation of residential housing stock.

Monkerton masterplan map

PLANNING & PLACE

Progressive Group planning enforcement proposal adopted despite public Labour rejection

Newly-published register also reveals council has issued as many planning enforcement notices in the past three months as it has in the past three years.

Exeter Statement of Community Involvement cover

PLANNING & PLACE

Council rejects calls for greater community involvement in Exeter planning policy and decisions

Council defends existing approach despite Statement of Community Involvement consultation producing just 17 responses, and won't do more to promote neighbourhood planning despite prospect of enhanced community powers.

All News
Analysis
Stagecoach app showing Exeter bus service delays and cancellations

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Bus back better? Exeter services expected to remain unfit for purpose without needed changes

Government underfunding and bus sector challenges limit scope for improvement but county council failure to upgrade routes and policy ambitions plus high housing costs make Exeter difficulties acute, undermining net zero aspirations.

Exeter City Futures website - vision & mission summary

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

University emissions study confirms Net Zero Exeter plan redundancy

Council retains Exeter City Futures' services despite history of delivery failures and lack of capacity to support defined decarbonisation targets.

Greenhouse gas protocol for cities - sources and boundaries of city greenhouse gas emissions (scale)

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter greenhouse gas report disregards hundreds of thousands of tonnes of annual city emissions

Restricted scope of study misrepresents scale of city's impact to produce partial decarbonisation targets while ignoring opportunities to reduce emissions imported by residents, businesses and visitors, guaranteeing net zero failure.

All Analysis
Comment
Exeter City Futures Exeter Development Fund presentation slide

PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter Development Fund: rent extraction, unaffordable housing and gentrification, but not net zero

Exeter City Futures' private debt-driven Liveable Exeter property development financing scheme is under fire from councillors who say it is based on insufficiently-evidenced assumptions and won't meet Exeter's housing needs.

E3 cycle route Chard Road modal filter

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Exeter cycling & walking strategy five years late and counting

County council soft-pedalling on infrastructure plan which city council says will not form part of new Exeter Local Plan despite Department for Transport guidance.

Liveable Exeter community engagement with council development director Ian Collinson

PLANNING & PLACE

Property development promotion as community planning participation

If the Liveable Exeter property development scheme and its Exeter Development Fund financing vehicle are already intended to "anchor and underpin" the new Exeter Local Plan, what will public consultation on the plan decide?

All Comment
On the agenda
New Exeter Local Plan

New Exeter Local Plan draft consultation

A consultation on the draft version of the new Exeter Local Plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040, is taking place this autumn.

All topics

ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY   AFFORDABILITY AFFORDABILITY AFFORDABILITY   AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY   ALPHINGTON & COWICK ALPHINGTON & COWICK ALPHINGTON & COWICK   ALPHINGTON ALPHINGTON ALPHINGTON   BONHAY MEADOWS BONHAY MEADOWS BONHAY MEADOWS   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   COP26 COP26 COP26   COVID-19 COVID-19 COVID-19   CITYPOINT CITYPOINT CITYPOINT   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS   CO-LIVING CO-LIVING CO-LIVING   CONGESTION CONGESTION CONGESTION   COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX   CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE   CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING   DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT   DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER   DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN   DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL   DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND   DURYARD & ST. 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DAVID'S EXETER ST. DAVID'S EXETER ST. DAVID'S   EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY   EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE   EXWICK EXWICK EXWICK   FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION   FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER   GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS   GUILDHALL GUILDHALL GUILDHALL   HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS   HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP   HEAVITREE & WHIPTON BARTON HEAVITREE & WHIPTON BARTON HEAVITREE & WHIPTON BARTON   HEAVITREE HEAVITREE HEAVITREE   HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION   HOUSING HOUSING HOUSING   LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+   LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD   LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER   LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY   LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS   MAKETANK MAKETANK MAKETANK   MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON   MET OFFICE MET OFFICE MET OFFICE   MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   MINCINGLAKE & WHIPTON MINCINGLAKE & WHIPTON MINCINGLAKE & WHIPTON   NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER   NEWTOWN & ST. LEONARD'S NEWTOWN & ST. LEONARD'S NEWTOWN & ST. LEONARD'S   NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS   OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE   PARIS STREET PARIS STREET PARIS STREET   PARKING PARKING PARKING   PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT   PENNSYLVANIA PENNSYLVANIA PENNSYLVANIA   PINHOE PINHOE PINHOE   PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY   PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY   PRIORY PRIORY PRIORY   PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT   PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION   PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH   PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM   PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT   PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION   RAMM RAMM RAMM   REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING   RETROFIT RETROFIT RETROFIT   RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK   ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST   SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET   SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION   SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER   SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY   SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT   ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS   ST. DAVID'S ST. DAVID'S ST. DAVID'S   ST. LOYE'S ST. LOYE'S ST. LOYE'S   ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE   ST. SIDWELL'S POINT ST. SIDWELL'S POINT ST. SIDWELL'S POINT   ST. THOMAS ST. THOMAS ST. THOMAS   STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST   TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL   TOPSHAM TOPSHAM TOPSHAM   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER  

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