Adaptation Strategy Consultation Report – Summary
This is a summary of the findings of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (DCIoS) Climate Adaptation Strategy Consultation, which took place from 9th May to 30th June 2023.
Background to this Report
The Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (DCIoS) Climate Adaptation Strategy will help communities and organisations across the Southwest better understand the risks their area might face in the future, as climate change increasingly affects the UK. It will also help them to adapt to these changes, thereby improving their preparedness and resilience and ensuring community safety.
The DCIoS Climate Impacts Group, chaired by the Environment Agency, was formed in 2019 in response to declarations of climate emergency across the area. The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) includes representatives from public bodies, private sector interests, environmental organisations and academic institutions. This group is responsible for assessing the impacts faced in the South West region and reviewing current levels of community preparedness for a warmer world.
The DCIoS CIG produced an Adaptation Strategy to tackle climate impacts that require regional collaboration. To do this, they worked with environmental consultants RSK to understand the implications of climate change for the region up to 2059 and identify strategic adaptation options and actions to respond to the impacts.
There are three parts to the Strategy:
- The Risk Register, which identifies regional climate impacts and their risks and opportunities.
- An Adaptation Plan, which sets out the conditions for everyone to act on adapting to climate change together.
- An Action Plan, which sets out the priority actions for regional collaboration over the next five years.
The Strategy was co-developed with the Climate Impacts Group and built upon an initial climate risk assessment that had been prepared previously by the CIG in early 2022. The 61 risks and opportunities outlined in CCRA3 – the UK’s third Climate Change Risk Assessment (Climate Change Committee (CCC), 2021; HM Government, 2022), were used as a basis for the CCRA.
In addition to the members of the Climate Impacts Group, a number of key stakeholders, such as infrastructure operators, were invited to workshops assessing the risks and identifying adaptation options.
The public consultation was a chance for citizens and organisations to read the draft Adaptation Strategy documents and provide feedback on how the region should respond to the impacts of climate change before the Strategy’s launch later in 2023. Thank you to everyone who responded.
Summary of Findings
A total of 214 responses were received from 188 individuals and 26 organisations. Organisations which responded included environmental charities, community groups, local authorities including town and parish councils, bodies relating to protected landscapes in the region and the police. Overall, a good geographical spread of responses was achieved, although a greater number were received from within Devon compared to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. However, younger age groups were underrepresented in the consultation.
Overall, there is clear support for the Strategy —eighty percent of respondents either “support the strategy” or “support some parts of the strategy but not others”. Only twenty percent selected “I don’t support the strategy”. Further feedback gave a strong message that respondents recognise that immediate action on climate change and adaptation is needed, and that the Strategy is comprehensive and evidence-based.
Concerns about the resources to deliver the strategy, as well as monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and enforcement recurred in feedback given. A number of respondents would like to see greater quantification of costs and clearer timelines.
There was also a strong level of support for the risk assessment in feedback.
Feedback on the climate change risks and opportunities identified in the strategy highlighted concerns about specific information perceived to be missing. Comments were made on risks to water and food supply, domestic violence, tourism, wildfires and vulnerable populations.
Comments regarding the strategic adaptation options identified highlighted the importance of education, awareness raising of climate change impacts and community engagement. Concerns about food and water security, tourism, transport, equality and diversity were also raised.
Respondents would like to see the Strategy presented in a way which is clearer to navigate and easier find the elements relevant to them – these concerns will be taken forward in the development of the website presenting the final Strategy.
Responses on the proposed governance, monitoring and evaluation of the Adaptation Strategy continued to underline the need for collaboration and coordination with a wide range of stakeholders, especially community groups and businesses. Additional concerns were also raised about the evaluation metrics to be used to track progress against the Strategy and the need to include qualitative as well as quantitative measures. Clarification regarding the framing of risks to law and governance was also sought, with worries about civil liberties and domestic violence.
A vocal minority were concerned about the scientific basis of climate change. We have not addressed this in detail in the consultation report. The consensus of the scientific community and the government strongly supports the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase our resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The need for more explicit connections to be made between work being done nationally and regional priorities came through in other feedback.
Most respondents are concerned about climate change (76%). Many individuals and groups in the region have felt the effects of climate change already (69%). A good number of respondents are already engaged in taking action with their communities on climate change. There is an appetite for information, support and updates about action on climate adaptation, and emissions reduction, with an emphasis on collaboration and co-production to avoid the public feeling disempowered and like passive recipients of adaptation measures. Public events would be welcomed.
In summary, there is concern about climate change, the effects are being felt and citizens wish to work with others to adapt to the impacts. They would like to see words turned into action promptly but want greater assurances of the resources for this to happen, for both organisations and households. We must provide the information needed, clearly update the public on progress against the Strategy and work with government and others to secure the resources to make it a reality.