South Hams Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency

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 June 2024

Reducing our Carbon Footprint and increasing Biodiversity

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter. This is a place for us to update you on what we are doing at South Hams District Council and what things are going on around the District.

It will tell you what's going on nationally and things you, our residents and businesses can be doing to reduce your carbon footprint and manage your land to improve the environment and its biodiversity.

If you have anything you would like to include in this newsletter, contact our Climate Change Specialist by email here.

Sustainable South Hams Updates


Sustainable South Hams (SusSH) have had a range of activity taking place across the District recently. Two of these activities has been the Taking Action Together Assembly and the Community Composting Masterclass.

Taking Action Together Assembly

The Education Assembly, held in Kingsbridge on 20 April, addressed how the wider community can help to support schools in reaching their sustainability goals and how we can learn from projects that are already happening.

The event was opened with talks from Professor Alison Anderson from University of Plymouth, Nicky Bailey from South Devon National Landscapes, Alex Seal and Jo Pettifer from Let’s Go Zero, and Alex Mack from Resource Futures.

Attendees were then able to explore the exhibitor stands to discuss local initiatives and meet representatives from local organisations.

There were opportunities for round table discussions before sharing ideas and discussions over lunch in the sunshine. The day rounded up with spotlight sessions with talks, Q&A, and discussions on ways that groups can bridge the gap between schools and community action in their work.

Community Composting Masterclass

Sustainable South Hams hosted a deep dive into community composting at a recent two-day long masterclass held in South Brent.

A total of 28 attendees from ten different communities gathered to hear from ‘Dr Compost’ Nicky Scott and SusSH mentors Ben Bryant and Stuart Saunders on the practicalities and benefits of community composting.

Delegates visited Sustainable South Brent’s successful Marsh Composting Site as well as their School Garden project.

New Free Support for Construction and Maintenance Professionals

bip support

A new free business support programme has been launched in the South Hams specifically aimed at helping construction and maintenance professionals to reduce their carbon footprint.

Participants can also benefit from one-to-one meetings with specialist advisors, either online or in person.

These sessions cover a range of business topics including marketing, staff retention, HR, and succession planning.

Additionally, each participant will receive a customised decarbonisation plan and advice from digital experts on using digital solutions to increase efficiency and save time.

Visit for more information

Events and Webinars

energy local totnes

Energy Local Totnes Club Hydroelectricity Launch

Sunday 9 June, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

At Totnes Weir Hydro

In celebration of the launch of the Energy Local Totnes Club, with its new access to local, affordable, renewable hydroelectric power from the Totnes Weir Hydro, there will be a fun and informative afternoon next to the Totnes Weir. Latest information can be found at:

At the event individuals and families can learn about Totnes's biggest renewable energy project, the Totnes Hydro and how they can now save money by buying electricity directly from the hydro via the Energy Local Totnes Club.

There will be:

  • Children's activities focused on learning about renewable energy with SeaDream (these will begin every half hour from 2 p.m.).
  • Tours of the Hydroelectric station (at 2 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.).
  • Information about the Energy Local Totnes Club - a co-operative that enables people to buy and sell locally generated renewable energy at a fair price.
  • Energy Saving advice and information.
  • A food and drink stall.

Please ensure to book your hydroelectric tour or children's activity slot in advance if possible at: 

The Totnes Weir Hydro power plant was constructed in 2015 and has a 300kW capacity.

It has two Archimedes Screw turbines that generate clean, renewable electricity - which is around 1,250 MWh of clean electricity each year.

Energy Local Totnes is a co-operative that enables its members to buy and trade locally generated, renewable energy at a fair price. To learn more or register your interest, please go to:

sei 2024

Sustainable Earth 2024 - 19 June, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (online)

Sustainable Earth 2024 is an online forum for everyone - researchers, businesses, NGOs, the public sector, community groups and individuals - all coming together to tackle global and local challenges around the climate emergency.

In order to reach net zero, we need significant action across all sectors of society.

This conference will explore how we can accelerate the action needed on net zero through putting people at the centre of solutions and mobilising, empowering and inspiring the people-power needed to make things happen.

The free event includes:

  • Keynote presentations from Emily Morrison, Young Foundation and Mike Berners-Lee, author of How Bad are Bananas?
  • Academic and industry guest speakers
  • Three action workshops
  • A documentary film – Cornwall Climate Care's Power to the People

Hear from inspirational speakers, network, participate, spark ideas and find opportunities to collaborate.

The event is open to anyone interested in understanding the challenges and solutions to reaching net zero, and aims to inspire action at any level. The event is free, but registration is required to attend any part of the programme.

Click here to register.


Using systems thinking to transform our food: Beans as an analytical lens. Wednesday 19 June 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Given the complex nature of the UK food system, it is clear that interventions to transform it will need to be designed from a systems perspective, i.e. as systemic innovations. Key questions therefore include; what should be the boundaries of the system?

Which actors and what perspectives would have to be involved? What collaboration would be needed? How could all the moving parts pull in one direction at once? Who would be the winners and losers?

The webinar will look at a systems approach to food system transformation, through the lens of the BeanMeals project, which was designed to explore systemic innovations using beans as the case study.

The benefits of incorporating more beans into our diets and farming systems are well documented: not only can they contribute to healthier and more sustainable diets and lower shopping bills, but they can increase soil fertility, provide a home-grown livestock feed, and ultimately reduce GHG emissions.

In this webinar, speakers will use the example of beans to show why thinking about the wider system is so important when trying to create large-scale change in diets and food production.

Click here to find out more and register.

nature reserve

Climate Majority Thinks: Nature Resilience with Ben Goldsmith - Thursday 20 June 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Britain is chronically nature-deficient. This makes it very hard to be transformatively  adapted to climate-damage, as (for instance) we mostly no longer have the wetlands to buffer flooding. So this badly needs to change.

In Wild Card, the Climate Majority Project incubated Britain’s most successful cutting-edge rewilding organisation/movement, which could help spearhead this key aspect of transformative/strategic adaptation.

Ben Goldsmith is likewise a key supporter of Wild Card. The needful agenda is one of rebalancing and restoring ecosystems, to become resilient or even anti-fragile (ie actually growing stronger from hits and challenges, rather than merely absorbing them without damage).

There is room here also for ‘agriwilding’, to synthesise rewilding with food-growing and to remove the culture war patina sometimes attached to rewilding. (The CMP regards agriwilding as an important agent of potential depolarisation, a win-win-win in classic transformative adaptation style.).

To register, click here.

What can you do to help the climate?

Want to do something the help the climate but don't know what? The Climate Action Venn Diagram might help!

Developed by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, the Climate Action Venn Diagram builds from the Japanese concept of Ikigai - a concept that encourages people to discover what truly matters to them and to live a life filled with purpose and joy.

Ayana is a Brooklyn-based marine biologist and author of the recent 'What if We Get it Right?' book full of data, poetry, and art on hopeful climate futures.

climate action venn

New Research and Publications

Study indicates Health risks from global warming can help drive climate action

nature people

A study published in the Nature Cities Journal has found that cities around the world are more likely to maintain climate action if local decision makers were more alert to the health risks of inaction.

Raising the profile of co-benefits associated with cleaner air and more access to natural spaces were seen as particularly important.

The study used data from 793 cities from the Carbon Disclosure Project 2021 platform to assess how the COVID-19 crisis has affected cities’ reported climate commitments and action.

Click here to read more.

Climate Change contributed to recent prolonged UK wet weather

Rain raindrops puddles

Scientists from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, including scientists from each of the National Meteorological Services in the Western Europe storm naming group, collaborated to assess the extent to which recent prolonged and severe rainfall was influenced by climate change.

October 2023 to March 2024 was one of the wettest October to March periods on record. The study found that the average precipitation on stormy days have become around 30% more intense, compared to a 1.2C cooler pre-industrial climate.

As warmer air can hold more moisture, the production of rain increases, and as the climate warms, we can expect to see further increases in rainfall.

To read the study in full click here.

Posted in SHDC, Climate Change.