Sustainability is at the heart of Neighbourhood PlanningSustainability, resilience and self-sufficiency-three interrelated concepts.Definitions.An activity is sustainable if the resources required by that activity are renewed by natural processes at a rate greater than or equal to the rate of consumption. Resilience. A community is said to be resilient if it can be sustained more or less intact even when the resources that support it are compromised to some extent. A community is not resilient when its integrity is compromised easily by the degradation of a relatively small part of the resources it requires.Self sufficiency. A community is said to be self-sufficient when it produces all or most of its requirements within that community or when the surpluses generated within the community are sufficient to obtain the resources that it cannot produce itself.Thus sustainability contains elements of self-sufficiency and resilience.The antithesis of the above three concepts is dependency. If our activities are unsustainable in the long-term then we will eventually become dependent on something else for continuation. If we are not self-sufficient then we are by definition dependent on other resources. If our community is not resilient then we run the risk of unexpectedly becoming dependent on other resources.
Considerations - Overview
Energy (Electrical)Fuel (excluding transport)FoodHousingEmploymentTransport (including fuel)Leisure and sportsMedicalEmergency responseNatural disastersNatural environment
Considerations - Detail
1. Electrical Energy. Exmouth has three solar farms within its boundaries. These three farms probably produce around 5% of Exmouth is peak requirements at peak output. Note that the two peaks probably rarely coincide. The bulk of Exmouth's electrical power is obtained from outside-probably 15-20% of which is from renewable resources. Thus Exmouth is dependent on fossil fuels for around 70% of its power - that is; oil, coal and gas. The balance being nuclear-power.2. Fuel for heating. The bulk of heating requirements in Exmouth will be met by oil, coal, gas, wood and electricity. A very small amount of the electricity requirement will be provided locally (see above). It is likely that a large amount of any wood used for heating will be from local resources. However it is also likely that 100% of the oil, coal and gas requirements are from outside the area and are of course non-renewable and therefore unsustainable in the long-term for both resource depletion and climate change reasons.3. Food. Exmouth is blessed with several independent food retail outlets. These retailers source as much of their produce as possible locally, however it is likely that more than 50% of their offering comes from outside of Devon let alone within the vicinity of Exmouth. Of the offering from the national supermarkets, it is unlikely that anything more than a minimal percentage is sourced locally. Total Exmouth food retail sales by value is probably much less than 10% locally sourced and produced.4. Housing. A significant amount of housing stock in old Exmouth is at or near sea level. This places it at risk from flooding, whether caused by storms or sea level rise. See section on natural disasters.5. Employment. Unemployment in Exmouth is deemed to be low at present. However approximately 50% of the working population works outside of Exmouth, thus the viability of Exmouth is highly dependent on the availability of work elsewhere.6. Transport. Exmouth is well served by rail and bus routes however the rail station is some distance from most of the newer residential areas. Whilst the rail and bus services are well used a large number of people choose to travel by private car to their place of work each day. Thus there is an issue of congestion at peak times on all routes in and out of Exmouth. There are limited routes available and if any of them become blocked by flooding or an accident then journey times increase significantly. Any significant change in fuel prices or availability will impact the viability of commuting. The rail line is not electrified and there are no plans to make it so.7. Leisure and sports. The facilities in Exmouth are well used. This reflects both the high level of employment and the numbers of active retired people living in Exmouth. Any change to the level of employment will impact the income of the leisure facilities to some extent. As the baby boom generation gets older the participation of the older generation in sports facilities is likely to decrease.8. Medical facilities. Exmouth is lucky to have its hospital still, but it does not have an A&E Department. There is also a fast route to larger hospitals in Exeter. Thus we are dependent on the availability of the ambulance service to Exeter.9. Emergency response. We do have a police station in Exmouth but it does not have public access facilities. We have a fire station in Exmouth and I believe ambulances are always available. We also have a lifeboat station. 10. Natural disasters. The Department of the environment are currently engaged in upgrading Exmouth's sea defences. The County is also drawing up plans to cope with situations which may demand evacuation of residents etc. The Town Council is intending to create a Local Emergency Plan to complement the County plan. Individual householders are to be encouraged to create their own plans, to complement the local council emergency plan. If everyone does this we will be far less dependent on the County Emergency services (fire, police, ambulance), thus more resilient and self-sufficient.11. Natural environment. The available land within the Exmouth boundary is under constant pressure for housing developments and consequent infrastructure needs. The wildlife corridors around streams and cycle paths etc. are under threat from pollution, litter and encroachment. The air quality in Exmouth is usually good, particularly when the wind is from the sea. However the growth in traffic and consequent exhaust pollution does not bode well for the future.