As the world awaits the outcome of COP26, this is an appropriate time to state the DPA’s position on the climate crisis.
Internally, we are doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. Amongst other things, we are continuing our working from home policy and reducing the hours spent in the office, so as to reduce travel and the use of fossil fuels. Although we have started to hold face-to-face meetings again, we are still using telephone and video conferencing where this is viable.
Our office is leased from the DNPA, so we benefit from their efficient biomass heating, powered by woodchip taken from sustainable local sources. We have lagged our heating pipes, to reduce heat loss. We avoid single-use plastics wherever possible and recycle cardboard, paper, plastic and packaging. Lighting in the common parts of the building is connected to sensors, which turn lights on only when people are in the vicinity. We use local suppliers and contractors wherever possible.
As regards external projects, the DPA has long recognised the importance of Dartmoor’s peatland in carbon sequestration and flood relief. Dartmoor’s blanket bogs store an estimated 10 million tonnes of carbon in their peatland soils, which is equivalent to an entire year of carbon dioxide emissions from UK industry. Together with the National Park Authority and Devon Wildlife Trust We carried out the Magnificent Mires project to raise awareness of the importance of peatlands and the threats they face. Since then, we have joined a coalition of organisations – the South-West Peatland Partnership – and we are providing funding and management time to support the restoration of degraded peat. We are also providing funding to the “Our Common Cause” scheme, which will conserve and enhance the heritage of Commons and Commoning in upland England. It will directly improve the management of almost 30,000ha of upland common, including many fragile ecosystems.
One of our policies is to consider supporting applications for small-scale wind power schemes, provided that they are sensitively sited and meet the needs of individual buildings or small communities. Traditionally, the DPA has opposed applications for commercial wind farms situated on, adjacent to, or impacting upon, Dartmoor. We will shortly be reviewing our policies and this may be one which we want to reconsider – although there will always be a trade-off between the environmental cost of building wind farms and the amount of clean energy they generate.
Closer to home, we have purchased threatened hay meadows and we are managing the land we own for wildlife and the environment, especially pollinators. We will need to do more work to understand what else we can do to offset emissions through effective management of our land assets. We also provided funding and management support to establish the Dartmoor Preservation Garden at the back of the Princetown visitor centre.
We believe that we all have a responsibility to join the fight against the climate crisis and will continue to explore ways of increasing our contribution further.