Monday, 30 September 2013

Development for Sustainability: sustainability appraisal

At last week's meeting
Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: Futures Forum meeting
Futures Forum: Sustainable Development: meeting 24th September
District Planning Policy Manager Matt Dickins gave this presentation on the 'Sustainability Appraisal':

For the presentation in full, click here.

Vision Group for Sidmouth - Futures Forum meets 24th Sept: report

Development for Sustainability: sustainable communities

At last week's meeting
Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: Futures Forum meeting
Futures Forum: Sustainable Development: meeting 24th September
District Cllr Mike Allen gave this presentation on 'Sustainable Communities':

For the full presentation click here.

Vision Group for Sidmouth - Futures Forum meets 24th Sept: report

Apple pressing at the Knapp Saturday 5th October

The West Country is traditionally the home of the apple, so how better to celebrate than to go along to the Knapp this Saturday:

Apple pressing event at The Knapp Community Nature Reserve on Saturday 5 October between 10am and 1pm

Sid Vale Association and the East Devon District Council Countryside team, who manage the Knapp Community Nature Reserve, would like to invite everyone along to the orchard (at the southern end of the nature reserve) on Saturday 5 October between 10am and 1pm to help collect and press the apples from the variety of trees growing there.


With East Devon District Council
Photo: Apple pressing event at The Knapp Community Nature Reserve on Saturday 5 October between 10am and 1pm

Sid Vale Association and the East Devon District Council Countryside team, who manage the Knapp Community Nature Reserve, would like to invite everyone along to the orchard (at the southern end of the nature reserve) on Saturday 5 October between 10am and 1pm to help collect and press the apples from the variety of trees growing there.

With East Devon District Council

Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project | Facebook

A-peel for help with apple harvest

ACCORDING to the Royal Horticultural Society, the weather conditions over the past year have been perfect for this year’s apple crop. The wet autumn of 2012, the following cold spring followed by the high temperatures of the summer we have just enjoyed all add up to large, ripe and tasty fruit.
Sid Vale Association and the East Devon District Council Countryside team, who manage the Knapp Community Nature Reserve, would like to invite everyone along to the orchard (at the southern end of the nature reserve) on Saturday 5 October between 10am and 1pm to help collect and press the apples from the variety of trees growing there.
EDDC Nature Conservation Officer Steve Edmonds encourages people to bring along their own apples as well for pressing; “It’s a great year for apples – bring a bagful of your own, and don’t forget a clean plastic container to take the juice away. Or just come along for a taste of some of ours!”
BBC support
The event is also supported by the BBC ‘Harvest’ project, which aims to inspire the public to find out more about the annual harvest and learn about how our food is harvested and produced. Copies of the BBC leaflet ‘Harvest’ will be available on the day, with information and recipes.
Please note that the Apple Pressing Day coincides with the start of the road closure in Newton Poppleford due to work by South West Water, so anyone coming from that direction should plan their route accordingly.
The orchard can be reached from two entrances to the reserve. The gate on Peaslands Road leads up a steep but short path past the Sid Vale Association’s wild flower meadow. The alternative route from Station Road is a longer but level walk. For more information please contact the Countryside team on 01395 517557 or email Countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk
Photo: EDDC Ranger Dave Palmer and Nature Conservation Officer Steve Edmonds demonstrating the Apple Press. Credit Jonathan Mitcham.
East Devon District Council - News
BBC Things To Do – Introducing our new project ‘Harvest’ - Localfood

Creating the Valley of a million bulbs October 2nd

Everybody's at it: 
The SVA's Woodlands & Estates volunteers were out in force this morning in the Byes
Sid Vale Association - Woodlands and Estates
And on Saturday, the Friends of the Byes were at the other end. There'll be another session this Wednesday:

Dear All

Saturday morning started off with a large thunder storm over Sidmouth, but by 10am it had cleared up and there were even some glimpses of sunshine. Just in time to get the first batch of bulbs in.

We managed to plant about 840 bulbs, even with several volunteers in their more tender years. Maybe because of the earlier rain we were short of volunteers, but luckily numbers were boosted with the help of two EDDC gardeners.

Thanks to all those that did manage to come along and help with this first session. We are all looking forward to seeing the extra splash of colour these bulbs will bring to The Byes during next year.

We could really do with more volunteers to spare a couple of hours this Wednesday 2nd October between 1:30pm and 3:30pm when we will be planting another batch of bulbs. Please do come along and join in and bring a friend. It really is easy work, especially with us all doing a little bit.

Attached is a planting guide prepared by Sid Vale Association, so please have a read.

Meeting point will again be at the Old Toll House entrance to the Byes on Salcombe Road.

For more info please email FOTByes@gmail.com or phone Sally Atkinson on 01395 577383
See you there.

Michael Horsnell

Behalf of FOTB

Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project | Facebook
Sid Vale Association - plant a million bulbs

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Transition Town Exmouth and the Met Office and...... Climate Change: meeting Monday 30th September

Climate Change – from Global to Local

Monday, 30 September: “Climate Change – from Global to Local” public lecture by Professor Peter Challenor of Exeter University 19.30. Telfer Centre, Exmouth Community College, Gipsy Lane, EX8 3AF. Organised by Sam Forder. Suggested donation £3. There is the capacity for 200 people and a chance for people to sign up to TTE.
Peter Challenor is a professor of mathematics and an acknowledged world expert in the computer modelling of climate change. With reference to the latest scientific data, Professor Challenor will be describing why our climate is changing and giving us his latest predictions for the future. Rather than having just a detached academic interest however, Professor Challenor believes that we can all as individuals help to minimise human-induced climate change and will give us a local perspective on this vital global issue.

This was given excellent advance publicity in Reconnect Magazine (well worth reading and also the diary of events in their Web version: www.reconnectonline.co.uk).
Futures Forum: Transition Town Exmouth: “Climate Change – from Global to Local”: 30th September

Development for Sustainability: Futures Forum meeting

The VGS Futures Forum met to consider 'development for sustainability':
Futures Forum: Sustainable Development: meeting 24th September 
This is a report from that meeting - with more to follow...

Futures Forum meets with District Councillors and Officers to look at 
‘Development for Sustainability’

With representatives from across East Devon, it proved an excellent opportunity to network between local government and community groups.

Tuesday 24th September’s meeting kicked off with the former head of the Local Plan Panel, Cllr Mike Allen, presenting how sustainability is at the heart of long-term planning at the District Council.
> We need to recognise the ‘Limits to Growth’, with increases in food and resource prices as well as population pressure across East Devon.
> The current price of houses in East Devon is 14 times earnings: the ‘flight of young people’ has to be stemmed by making more housing and workspaces available.
> Sidmouth is unique among local towns in that more people commute into Sidmouth to work than commute out – which gives a priority on affordable housing for key workers, rather than new employment opportunities.
> Most economic activity in Devon is based on rural and agricultural business: the Coalition government has inverted the previous administration strategy, with the aim now to make villages viable working communities rather than focus development in urban centres.
> There is a need for a ‘sequential approach’ to allowing development, with highest quality farming land and AONB areas most protected.
[See full presentation at Futures Forum blog; and

East Devon’s Planning Policy Manager Matt Dickins outlined how the Sustainability Appraisal was put together, whilst stressing the difficulty of defining ‘sustainability’.
> There is substantial ‘in-migration’ of families into East Devon – increasing demand for both market and affordable housing.
> Sidmouth has very few ‘brownfield sites’ and low wages compared to Exeter – issues for employment land and job creation.
> The 7 economic objectives, 10 environmental objectives and 3 economic objectives, need to be balanced – but are not mutually compatible.
[See full presentation at Futures Forum blog; and

Dave Bramley, chair of the VGS, agreed, saying that this would mean there would have to be trade-offs – with Cllr Allen pointing out the paradox of community not wanting development and yet national policy had determined that there should be ‘sustainable growth’.

Jo Mitchell, of the VGS and independent consultant on sustainability, asked exactly how ‘objectives’ were measured – for example, that there should be ‘no increase in flooding’ at Sidford – with Officer Dickins saying that these figures could be challenged either at the Examination of the Local Plan or during any future planning application.

Margaret Day of SOS questioned how any development on the flood plain at Sidford could be classed as ‘sustainable’ – and yet, whilst Cllr Allen's personal view was that this site was not viable, it had nevertheless been judged the ‘most appropriate’ site, taking into consideration the need for new homes and new jobs.

The new Devon Manager for Sustrans (‘Sustainable Transport’) Paul Hawkins then spoke about his determination to undertake a feasibility study for the Feniton cycle path. It was vital to engage positively with landowners as well as meet up with local groups over the coming months – and he asked for anyone with knowledge of the route to contact him on paul.hawkins@sustrans.org.uk or Tel: 07917 612782.

Derek Chant, head of SVEAG, pointed to practical schemes, including an annual Sidmouth College shield for energy projects and making use of an Open Homes grant to help with energy efficiency. Significantly, SVEAG will be hosting the event ‘Back to the Future’ together with the Observatory on 14th November– looking to when Sidmouth produced enough energy to satisfy its own energy needs and considering setting up a community company to do so again.

Derek Smithers of Exmouth, representing the wider Transition Town movement in East Devon, called for greater liaison within the District and highlighted two sessions considering central sustainability issues – including climate change, on 30th September with Prof Challenor of Exeter University, and sustainable tourism on 16th October, sponsored by Exmouth’s Chamber of Commerce. Cllr Allen welcomed the innovations coming out of the TT movement – especially the ‘energy descent plan’.

Emily McIvor of the East Devon Alliance engaged Cllr Allen in debate on the issue of East Devon's 'carbon footprint' ('three and a  half planets') in comparison to the rapidly growing economies of China and India - and the impacts this will have on development for sustainability.

Finally, looking to immediate steps, Cllr Allen said groups should contact Jamie Buckley, the Officer in charge of Community Coordination, to help with the likes of grant applications.
He also suggested contacting Phil Townsend, DCC Highways Development  Management Officer, to ensure that the transport and road traffic issues at Sidford were well aired and understood.

Moreover, Cllr Allen welcomed and encouraged community engagement in dialogue with the District Council, urging representations on the Local Plan to be sent in before 7th October for consideration by the Inspector.

In thanking the main speakers the Chair Robert Crick ended on the positive note that population scientists have evidence that humanity globally is developing in a way that should enable us to survive the challenges of the coming century so long as we ensure stability and share resources equitably.

Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: what is 'sustainability'?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The national press and the IPCC report........................ and Climate Change

Today's Telegraph comments on yesterday's publication of the IPCC report on 
climate change:

IPCC: Global warming is getting deeper

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is mindbogglingly thorough and cautious - the work of 259 top scientists from 30 countries

Deep heat: more than 90 per cent of solar heat ends up in the oceans and it may have penetrated far down where monitoring is poor
Deep heat: more than 90 per cent of solar heat ends up in the oceans and it may have penetrated far down where monitoring is poor  Photo: Getty Images
Yesterday’s giant climate report was met with a dance and a scream. The dance came when the governments and scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), finally put the finishing touches to the most important analysis yet of its kind after a series of sessions that allowed them only six hours’ sleep in the last 52. The conference manager, Francis Hayes – a former Met Office scientist – donned a Russian hat and performed a Cossack caper in celebration.
The mass scream was part of a demonstration outside the former Stockholm brewery in which they had convened by protesters venting their frustration that governments have largely failed to act on previous warnings. They hope that will change. For this is the first in a year-long series of giant IPCC reports to prepare the ground for an attempt to forge an international agreement on tackling global warming in Paris in December 2015.
Mind you, there are those who say the IPCC has long been leading the world a merry dance. As some extreme sceptics see it, a small clique of scientists has been concocting, against all the evidence, one of history’s greatest hoaxes, bamboozling governments into addressing a problem that doesn’t actually exist. But the conspiracy theory fails at the briefest reality check.
The summary report published yesterday, and the million-word full version that will follow, result from a mindbogglingly thorough process. Together they were written by 259 top scientists from 30 countries, drawing on 9,200 mostly recent scientific publications – and checked by 1,089 reviewers, whose 54,677 comments all had to be taken into account. And over the past week “every single word” has been justified to 110 governments.
Unsurprisingly, this painstaking procedure produces cautious reports. It was not until 2007 that the IPPC straight-forwardly accepted that humanity was causing global warming, nearly 20 years after leading scientists had begun publicly saying so. Even then, it grossly underestimated the resulting sea level rise, and wholly failed to a predict a dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice that year. Yesterday’s report increased its assessment of the likelihood that humanity is warning the planet from 90 to 95 per cent. Yet it, too, errs on the side of caution on Arctic ice, and takes little account of what scientists say is one of the most alarming developments: the release of methane from melting permafrost to reinforce the gases already warming the planet. Its conclusions are nevertheless alarming. Atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases are “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”. The Antarctic ice sheet is melting five times – and the Greenland one six times – faster than just a decade ago. And whatever changes take place will only be reversible over many hundreds, even thousands, of years.
What it does not conclude, despite widely publicised sceptic assertions, is that the world is warming at about half the rate it previously estimated. Its actual reduction is by just one hundredth of a degree centigrade, from 0.13 to 0.12 degrees per decade.
The IPCC did, however, address a much more substantial sceptical point, that the temperature increase at the Earth’s surface has slowed down since 1998 to about 40 per cent of its average rate since 1951 – something it accepts it didn’t predict. One reason is that 1998, the year invariably chosen by sceptics, was one of the warmest ever: if 1995 or 1996 is chosen as the starting point, the rate actually exceeds the long-term average. But, even then, the warming has been much slower than in the previous decade.
That seems partially due to rather less heat reaching the Earth from the Sun, since it is going through a cooler phase in its regular cycle and dust from volcanoes is providing some screening. Even so, enough is getting though to warm the planet somehow: to deny that it is doing so is to challenge not global warming but the laws of physics themselves.
It has almost certainly ended up in the oceans, like more than 90 per cent of all the solar heat we receive, and there are some indications that it has penetrated deep down where our monitoring is poor. If that is so, it could provide temporary, if illusory, relief. The process could just as well reverse when conditions change, seriously accelerating warming. Such slow-downs have happened before, only for rapid heating to resume. Despite the IPCC’s work, however, there is so far little sign that governments will do enough to avert dangerous climate change. Looking back at its report, it seems, future generations are more likely to scream than to dance.

IPCC: Global warming is getting deeper - Telegraph

The Telegraph has provided a lot of debate on the subject over the last 24 hours, with this analysis of the mathematics of probability:

IPCC global warming report: what do the figures mean?

An IPCC report has concluded that global warming is "unequivocal" and man's involvement is "clear". Statistician David Spiegelhalter analyses the figures behind the announcement.

The village of Ilulissat in Greenland is seen near the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier earlier this year Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The IPCC use the term ‘extremely likely’ to mean ‘between 95% and 100% probability’. But what does this mean? When people sell us car insurance they calculate probabilities using data on lots of people like us. But we’ve only one planet, and so this probability must be based on a degree of judgment by the scientists.
One way to interpret this judgment of ‘at least 95% probability’ is to compare it to a situation where the chances are really ‘known’. Suppose a trustworthy person had a bag with 20 tickets in it, numbered 1 to 20, and one ticket is to be drawn at random. They then, rather generously, offered you a bet that you would only lose if ticket number 7 were drawn - so there is an agreed 95% chance of winning.
Then we can interpret the IPCC’s statement as meaning that, rather than choosing this attractive offer, they would prefer to place the same bet on human influence having been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
Clearly the IPCC scientists are extremely confident in this conclusion.

IPCC global warming report: what do the figures mean? - Telegraph
IPCC report: global warming is 'unequivocal' - Telegraph
IPCC report is 'full of hocus pocus science', claim sceptics - Telegraph
If you still believe in 'climate change' read this… – Telegraph Blogs
IPCC report: Sceptics guide to climate change - Telegraph

The Daily Mail has a different take on the Report:
IPCC climate change report: Humans are causing global warming but we STILL can't explain why Earth's barely got any hotter in the last 15 years | Mail Online

Whereas George Monbiot in the Guardian today also considers the intrinsic 'conservatism' of the scientific temperament:

Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown

The message from the IPCC report is familiar and shattering: it's as bad as we thought it was
Mary Robinson
Former Irish president Mary Robinson emphasized the need to leave fossil fuels untouched. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
Already, a thousand blogs and columns insist the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new report is a rabid concoction of scare stories whose purpose is to destroy the global economy. But it is, in reality, highly conservative.
Reaching agreement among hundreds of authors and reviewers ensures that only the statements which are hardest to dispute are allowed to pass. Even when the scientists have agreed, the report must be tempered in another forge, as politicians question anything they find disagreeable: the new report received 1,855 comments from 32 governments, and the arguments raged through the night before launch.
In other words, it's perhaps the biggest and most rigorous process of peer review conducted in any scientific field, at any point in human history.
There are no radical departures in this report from the previous assessment, published in 2007; just more evidence demonstrating the extent of global temperature rises, the melting of ice sheets and sea ice, the retreat of the glaciers, the rising and acidification of the oceans and the changes in weather patterns. The message is familiar and shattering: "It's as bad as we thought it was."
What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown.
This is a catastrophe we are capable of foreseeing but incapable of imagining. It's a catastrophe we are singularly ill-equipped to prevent.
The IPCC's reports attract denial in all its forms: from a quiet turning away – the response of most people – to shrill disavowal. Despite – or perhaps because of – their rigours, the IPCC's reports attract a magnificent collection of conspiracy theories: the panel is trying to tax us back to the stone age or establish a Nazi/communist dictatorship in which we are herded into camps and forced to crochet our own bicycles. (And they call the scientists scaremongers …)
In the Mail, the Telegraph and the dusty basements of the internet, Friday's report (or a draft leaked a few weeks ago) has been trawled for any uncertainties that could be used to discredit. The panel reports that on every continent except Antarctica, man-made warming is likely to have made a substantial contribution to the surface temperature. So those who feel threatened by the evidence ignore the other continents and concentrate on Antarctica, as proof that climate change caused by fossil fuels can't be happening.
They make great play of the IPCC's acknowledgement that there has been a "reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998–2012", but somehow ignore the fact that the past decade is still the warmest in the instrumental record.
They manage to overlook the panel's conclusion that this slowing of the trend is likely to have been caused by volcanic eruptions, fluctuations in solar radiation and natural variability in the planetary cycle.
Were it not for man-made global warming, these factors could have made the world significantly cooler over this period. That there has been a slight increase in temperature shows the power of the human contribution.
But denial is only part of the problem. More significant is the behaviour of powerful people who claim to accept the evidence. This week the former Irish president Mary Robinson added her voice to a call that some of us have been making for years: the only effective means of preventing climate breakdown is to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Press any minister on this matter in private and, in one way or another, they will concede the point. Yet no government will act on it.
As if to mark the publication of the new report, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has now plastered a giant poster across its ground-floor windows: "UK oil and gas: Energising Britain. £13.5bn is being invested in recovering UK oil and gas this year, more than any other industrial sector."
The message couldn't have been clearer if it had said "up yours". It is an example of the way in which all governments collaborate in the disaster they publicly bemoan. They sagely agree with the need to do something to avert the catastrophe the panel foresees, while promoting the industries that cause it.
It doesn't matter how many windmills or solar panels or nuclear plants you build if you are not simultaneously retiring fossil fuel production. We need a global programme whose purpose is to leave most coal and oil and gas reserves in the ground, while developing new sources of power and reducing the amazing amount of energy we waste.
But, far from doing so, governments everywhere are still seeking to squeeze every drop out of their own reserves, while trying to secure access to other people's. As more accessible reservoirs are emptied, energy companies exploit the remotest parts of the planet, bribing and bullying governments to allow them to break open unexploited places: from the deep ocean to the melting Arctic.
And the governments who let them do it weep sticky black tears over the state of the planet.

Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown | Environment | The Guardian
IPCC climate report: human impact is 'unequivocal' | Environment | theguardian.com

The University of Exeter... and Climate Change

Another local connection to climate change science: 

Professor Tim Lenton. Chair in climate science at the University of Exeter
“What concerns me most is the growing evidence that frozen parts of the climate system are responding extremely sensitively to global warming – the retreat of Arctic summer sea-ice is unprecedented and the rate of ice loss from both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets has increased five-fold in just the last two decades.”

Climate change and sustainable futures

Climate change is one of the most significant phenomena of the 21st century, needing a truly interdisciplinary approach to tackle the issues it raises. With strong links to the Met Office and diverse expertise encompassing mathematical climate modelling, ecosystem responses, mitigation technology and socio-economic impact and adaptation, we are uniquely positioned at the vanguard of climate change research.

Met Office partnership

Exeter, Reading, and Leeds universities are working with the Met Office on climate research.


Leading research experts from wide-ranging disciplines across the University are working together to understand the many and various factors that contribute to climate change and to develop solutions.

Training the experts of the future

Whether you want to launch a career in this fast-moving field or to build on your experience, we offer both undergraduate degrees and postgraduate qualifications to help you on your way.
Find out more about our study opportunities in climate change and sustainable futures:

Postgraduate programmes

UK's first renewable energy degree

Conservation and ecology undergraduate programme 

Geography undergraduate programmes



Working with the Met Office to investigate geoengineering as a radical response to climate change.

Catlin Arctic Survey

Dr Ceri Lewis is investigating climate change in -40⁰C conditions on an Arctic expedition.

+ Big Dilemmas Project

This project looks at solving complex sustainability problems, such as meeting our energy and resource needs without jeopardising the environment?