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Northern Devon Visualisation Survey – the ‘New Normal’

Northern Devon Visualisation Survey – the ‘New Normal’

An innovative survey carried out over the summer has revealed fascinating information about how the pandemic has changed some people’s lifestyles and their views on issues like the environment and their quality of life.

The Plastic Free Northern Devon Consortium launched the online visualisation survey at the end of May, asking people what their ‘new normal’ looked like and how much of this new lifestyle they wanted to carry on post-pandemic.

Over 800 people responded with many reporting back that since the first lockdown in March, they were:

Survey Results
  • walking and cycling more
  • shopping more locally
  • appreciating nature more
  • spending more time outdoors
  • working from home more

Looking to the future, the pandemic has made them want to:

  • spend more time outdoors
  • work more flexibly
  • use better transport options
  • spend more time on leisure, family and friends

A strong commitment to doing their bit for the environment came through with people wanting to reduce single use plastic, increase their recycling and aim for zero waste. Half of all the respondents had used refill shops and facilities and many wanted more water refill points.

In order to achieve the future they want, they would like more investment in making open spaces cleaner and safer and better cycling infrastructure including more off road routes.

Overall, people seem to want a peaceful, sustainable community where they have more time to do the things they love in a new calmer, safer, greener, kinder and healthier environment.

North Devon Coast AONB Manager, Jenny Carey Wood, says: “During lockdown the survey respondents walked and cycled more, they shopped more locally, they appreciated nature more and spent more time outdoors. Looking to the future, the AONB Partnership wants to help people to continue these changed behaviours to help the local environment, improve their health and wellbeing and support the local food economy.”

Plastic Free North Devon’s Claire Moodie, says: “We are really inspired and enthused by the breadth of ideas and overall consensus by respondents to build a more sustainable community for all of  its inhabitants. However, it is clear we need more tools and opportunities to take everyone with us which is especially important when trying to encourage a more widespread ‘refill and reuse’ culture.”

Lead Member for Health, Wellbeing and Community Safety at Torridge District Councils, Councillor Philip Hackett, says:  “Although this was only a relatively narrow snapshot of the population of Northern Devon the results do very much mirror what we all observed during May and June. As confirmed in the survey there was a stronger sense of community amongst people with many organising themselves to help and assist others. The ability to spend time outdoors was more appreciated and even led to an upsurge in cycling and walking, a trend noticed right across the UK, which Devon County Council have already picked up on, looking to expand facilities. This was a useful exercise and we are grateful to all of the partner organisations that worked together to make this possible and for people taking part to share their views. It will be interesting to see the contrast in future surveys and to see whether the positive health and environmental trends established here continue to grow stronger in a post Covid era.”

Lead Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, Councillor Netti Pearson, says: “We all know that life changed dramatically when the pandemic hit but in lots of ways, many of these changes were for the better and it’s heartening to hear that people want these changes to continue in some way in the future. We are already working with our partners to make sure the environment of North Devon improves and we will be looking carefully at this feedback to see what else we can do to give local residents the improved quality of life they desire in a cleaner, safer, healthier environment.”

The Plastic Free Northern Devon Consortium members supporting the survey are: Plastic Free North Devon, North Devon Coast AONB, North Devon Council, Torridge District Council, North Devon Biosphere, 361 Energy,  Beaford , North Devon Plus and XR North Devon.

The full survey report can be found on Plastic Free Northern Devon Consortium pages