Carbon neutral ambition at core of East Devon's local plan

View over Honiton from Cuckoo Down Hill

Residents have been having their say on the future development of East Devon - Credit: Tim Dixon

More public transport, solar panels on new builds and more woodland areas are just some of the suggestions from residents on how to tackle environmental issues and help East Devon become carbon neutral.

But residents are running out of time to have their say, with less than two weeks left until the end of the first consultation on the New Local Plan, which finishes on March 15.

East Devon District Council is urgently appealing to residents to share their views on the future of the area and how, what and where they think new developments should be built.

Concerns have also been raised over the number of younger people that haven’t spoken out about what they want for their future – currently more than 70 per cent of people who have responded to the new local plan’s issues and options consultation are over 56 years old. The council is keen to hear from all groups in the community.

This week, the authority revealed a number of randomly selected suggestions from residents who have shared their views on climate change and the environment.

One of the big questions the council asked residents is at what point in time it should require all new buildings to be zero carbon.  

In total, 42 per cent of respondents favoured making all new developments carbon neutral from the point the new plan is adopted, which the council hopes will be in 2023. However, it was noted that early application of the zero carbon standard could impact on securing other benefits from developments such as affordable housing.

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A further 44 per cent thought it should be at a later date and 10 per cent thought EDDC should wait for central government to put a policy in place.

Suggestions from residents included there being more electric charging points.

Another hot topic of debate was about where or if East Devon should have solar farms and wind farms.

An overwhelming 63 per cent of respondents favoured the authority identifying specific areas for solar and wind farms, whilst 18 per cent of residents said they supported the general idea.

In total, 11 per cent of residents said they wanted the council to apply a more restrictive approach, making getting permission harder for such developments.

Suggestions from residents included avoiding large scale wind and solar farms to protect the look of East Devon’s coast and countryside, and instead focus on using solar panels on roofs, especially larger buildings like farm barns. The use of solar tiles, which some consider less intrusive, for housing in more sensitive areas was also favoured.

Other ideas included using ground and air source heat pumps for heating and more focus on generating electricity using tide, wave, and water power – something East Devon has better access to than many others.

Residents who have taken part in the consultation so far have also suggested a number of options they think that should be considered to help address climate change concerns.

This includes, better public transport - such as park and ride – and more pedestrianisation of streets.

Other suggestions have included more links between settlements that are safe for pedestrians, cyclists and disability scooter users, among others, to use – in hopes it would reduce the use of motor vehicles and encourage healthier life-styles.

There was strong support for more large scale woodland areas and tree planting across the district also.

Answers in the consultation also mentioned a want for larger gardens and adequate space around houses for parking, giving people more space around new build developments to enjoy and not feel cramped.

EDDC want to know what you think of the above suggestions so far, do you agree, disagree? Please share your views by following the below link. You can answer as many or as few questions as you like or that interest you.

Councillor Dan Ledger, East Devon’s portfolio holder for strategic development, said: “East Devon will have many challenges as we look over the next local plan period. How we deal with the declared climate emergency is one issue that all residents will need to take note of.

“The current issues and options consultation covers a range of questions regarding how the district council can best tackle this and we are keen to gain people’s views on how we proceed.”

You can have your say on the new local plan consultation here: www.eastdevon.gov.uk/newlocalplan

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