Council working with Sustainable South Hams to prioritise climate and nature action

SusSH was formed last year to connect, support and inspire sustainability projects across the South Hams. The organisation shares vital knowledge with parishes and community groups to support on the ground climate action projects, so that meaningful and positive change happens faster.

Among SusSH's biggest achievements so far is their Rivers Assembly. They invited community group leaders and organisation representatives together to share knowledge and ideas on how to protect our rivers, with two action groups set up to look at protecting the River Erme and the River Avon. 

SusSH has also organised a scrutiny group of volunteers with legal, engineering and data analysis experience to work with South West Water and the Environment Agency to look at overspills and how to protect the district's rivers and waterways.

Jane Nichols, CEO of Sustainable South Hams, said: "Action on climate change has to be a case of working both top down and bottom up. We have to do our bit, as communities and individuals, and we need government to do their bit too. We're all part of the system and part of the solution.

"The funding we've received from the Council has been vital in us carrying out our work locally - we just wouldn't have been able to do any of it without it.

"We've got a network of 42 sustainability groups now across the South Hams. Each one of those people connected, knows people. If we can create and share knowledge through that network, we're reaching thousands of people and our impact can be profound."

In June, the Council Executive pledged the organisation £40,000 of funding to help it continue its work on protecting the South Hams' biodiversity and fighting climate change.

We're also building even stronger ties between the Council and SusSH through our new Climate Change and Biodiversity Advisory Group, which will use specialist and expert knowledge to support the Council and wider community's climate ambitions. Its core aim will be helping develop district-wide projects that have an influence on lowering carbon emissions.

Cllr John McKay, South Hams Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: "Sustainable South Hams have only been around for around 12 months, but since funding them last year, they've done extraordinary things in terms of bringing small groups together and disseminating knowledge between them.

"They created a dynamic across the district that's very important. I want to see the Council tap into that energy and the clear gift that they have for organisation. That will help us achieve our climate change goals."