Ottery councillor given progress promise on Devon green action plan – a year after motion was tabled

An Ottery St Mary representative has been told that  progress has been made on her green action plan for Devon – more than a year after it was tabled.

Councillor Claire Wright asked County Hall chiefs for an update on the ten-point bid – aimed at preventing an environmental ‘catastrophe’ – at their October meeting.

Otter Valley ward member Cllr Wright submitted the motion in July last year, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

Devon County Council’s (DCC) Environmental Performance Board was tasked with to look into how it could be addressed.

The plan proposed supporting tenant DCC farmers in setting aside 10 per cent of their land for wildflowers and wildlife.

They would also be asked to earmark a further five per cent for tree planting – and to phase out the use of inorganic fertilisers, such as nitrogen, by 2023.

The proposals also called for pollinators to be given legal protection and for outlets to be urged to ditch stocking bee-harming pesticides.

Cabinet member for environmental services Cllr Roger Croad said that the huge demands of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic have inevitably affected the way the council has been able to progress its plans.

But he added that it has been recognised that environmental objectives must underpin the plans for Covid recovery.

Cllr Croad said: “Given the huge imperative to support the Devon climate emergency, the Environmental Performance Board has deliberately prioritised effort to progress our DCC carbon reduction plan, as well as assisting in the development of the Devon Carbon Plan and Climate Impacts Plan.

“For this reason, formalising this broader approach to enhanced environmental action through a refreshed suite of action plans has not yet occurred, although opportunities for action are being pursued with vigour.”

He added that an ecologist had been recruited to help provide the required capacity to take forward actions from the DCC Pollinators Action Plan.

Cllr Croad also said that Local Nature Partnership work on October Dark Skies Week will raise awareness of the impacts of lighting on insects and promote actions that people can take.

He added: “Work is progressing well, with significant input from the county council, on the development phase of ‘Saving Devon’s Treescapes’, with the first tree planting events starting in October.

“The council is working closely with other local authorities, the Woodland Trust, Local Nature Partnership and others to secure national funding to progress a ‘Trees for Devon’ initiative, which aims to increase tree cover in the county.

“The draft action plan to reduce the councils’s own water consumption has been taken forward.

“The authority is also committed to refurbishing county farm dwellings to reflect the decent homes standard.

“Twenty refurbishments have been completed and a further six are in progress during 2020.”

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Tenant farmers could be asked to set aside land for wildflowers and trees in ‘green action plan’ set to go before Devon County Council