What does a Green Revolution mean for Dartmoor?

Electric Car Charge point Haytor. Copyright – Chris Saville

The Prime Minister is trying to live up to his green credentials as the Government announced this month its ‘ambitious ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution’, which will ‘create and support up to 250,000 British jobs’.

Part of the Government’s plan is to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars as of 2030. While positive news for the environment, it may not be so much for us here in Devon. Most importantly because Devon is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom, made up of many miles of country roads, and, most worryingly, there are currently only 30 publicly accessible charge points for electric vehicles.

Devon County Council already has plans in the pipeline to boost the number of charge points accessible by local residents, including installing some in Ivybridge, Chagford, Okehampton and Hatherleigh.

But local authorities have their work cut out. Devon has over 8,000 miles of road – the largest network in the country – with almost 6 billion miles being driven on them between 2000 and 2019.

Continued on pages 18-19 Furthermore, the population of West Devon, Teignbridge and the South Hams combined is just over a quarter of a million. And this is before the tourist season.

It is going to take a significant effort to install the infrastructure needed to accommodate a mass take-up of electric vehicles in line with the Government’s Green Revolution plans.

Covering clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Prime Minister has promised that his blueprint will allow the UK to forge ahead with eradicating its contribution to climate change by 2050.
This announcement comes right on the cusp of the UK hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

The plan, that the Prime Minister has said is part of his mission to level up across the country, will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030.

The Prime Minister’s ten points are as follows.

  1. Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
  2. Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by
    hydrogen by the end of the decade.
  3. Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
  4. Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including those in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
  5. Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
  6. Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-
    emission planes and ships.
  7. Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  8. Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
  9. Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining
    thousands of jobs.
  10. Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance. Responding to the announcement, the MP for Central Devon said: “As Chair of the Treasury Select Committee I have been pursuing an inquiry into the decarbonisation of our economy and so I was very pleased that last week the PM set out a 10 Point Green Plan. Historically, economic recoveries across the world have been anything but clean or green.

‘When times are hard countries have often prioritised growth over environmental concerns. But not the UK, and through our chairmanship of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next year we will encourage others to follow our example that we can both grow our economies and protect the environment.”

However, the Prime Minister’s plan has received a lukewarm reception from some quarters. For example, Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, whose plan for a green COVID recovery involves £30 billion spent over 18 months, said the No 10 proposals were low on ambition and contained several ‘reheated pledges’.

“People are losing their jobs now,” Miliband said. “This isn’t fundamentally a green stimulus, it’s nowhere near the scale of what is required.

‘This announcement doesn’t remotely meet the scale of the jobs emergency or the climate emergency. France and Germany are investing tens of billions of euros. This provides, at best, £4 billion of new money over several years.

‘What we needed was a really bold green economic stimulus, and what we got was a pale imitation of that. It’s deeply, deeply disappointing.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, condemned the plan as vague and underpowered. She said: “This is a shopping list, not a plan to address the climate emergency, and it commits only a fraction of the necessary resources.”

However, in what will come as a boost to Mr Johnson, Hilary McGrady, the director general of the National Trust, said the plan was ‘a fantastic platform’ ahead of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.

She said: “But technology alone can’t cut emissions and restore nature. The Government will need to follow this up with an ambitious pledge to cut emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris agreement.”
Ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars

Despite this praise, some of the people in the business world, such as car manufactures, have warned that it will take a ‘Herculean effort’ to prepare the UK for a ban on sales of new diesel and petrol car sales by 2030. The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said many drivers found electric cars ‘daunting’ due to concerns about their range and the lack of charging points.

“Some of these problems will disappear as the average range of electric vehicles increases, but it’s vital that the government continues to invest in developing a fast, reliable and widely available network of chargers that support electric vehicle owners no matter what their circumstances or travel plans.”

Rebecca Newsom of environmental group Greenpeace, meanwhile, welcomed the ban being brought forward, saying it could be ‘a major milestone in the fight against the climate crisis’ that could put Britain ‘in pole position in the race to seize the jobs and economic opportunities of an electric future’.

However, what problems could this ban cause to us here in Devon? Well, potentially a lot. Most prominently because Devon is the fourth largest county in the UK but there are currently only 30 publicly accessible charge points. Earlier this year councillors urged Devon County Council to get on with a project to install Electric Vehicle Charging Points in car parks across the county.

The Devon Low Carbon Energy and Transport Technology Innovator (DELETTI) project is being led by Devon County Council to install electric vehicle charging points and aims to accelerate the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles through providing additional and improved charging infrastructure.

Funding has been received by Devon County Council from the European Regional Development Fund for the project, and over the next two years, 25 electric vehicle charge points in car parks across Devon are set to be installed.

Earlier this year, South Hams District Council’s executive unanimously agreed to sign up to the collaboration agreement with Devon County Council for the installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Points, but urge the county to get on with the program.

Cllr Keith Baldry, Executive Member for Environment, said: “This is a small step and perhaps it is not moving fast enough, but is the best we can do. We just need Devon to move forward quicker and if they can bring the program forward we will get them in quicker.”

Phase 1 is set to see the charging points installed in Heaths Nursery car park Totnes, Quay car park Kingsbridge, Mayors Avenue car park Dartmouth, Creek car park Salcombe, the Park & Ride car park Dartmouth and Glanvilles Mill car park Ivybridge (through a Highways England Project), with Fore Street car park Kingsbridge, Cattlemarket car park Kingsbridge, Victoria Street car park Totnes, Pavilions car park Totnes and Poundwell Meadow car park Modbury, as part of the Phase 2 rollout.

West Devon Borough Council’s Hub Committee had the previous week agreed to join the project, with charging points in Phase 1 to be installed in the Bedford car park in Tavistock and Okehampton’s Mill Road car park, with potential to consider additional car parks in phase two which could be in car parks in Chagford, Hatherleigh, and the Market Street car park Okehampton and Abbey car park in Tavistock.

When details about the DELETTI project were first announced, Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “The Government has committed to banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, but long before that we want more people to start using electric vehicles.

‘It’s been difficult to encourage more people to use electric cars until there are more charging points, and more charging points won’t be provided until there are more electric cars on the road.

‘This partnership with the district councils helps break that cycle. Fewer petrol and diesel cars will lead to a reduction in emissions, cleaner air and an improved quality of life for residents.”

This date has now been moved forward by 10 years.

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, added at the time:
“It’s really important to us that we work towards climate change solutions. The use of electric cars will certainly help this and infrastructure such as car charging points is crucial when encouraging people to reduce
their carbon footprint.”

Well, now our councils’ hands have been forced by the Prime Minister’s plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.

Ben Fox

Author: Ben Fox

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