25 April 2012

climate change at the heart of planning

I went to the TCPA/FoE parliamentary launch of the planning for climate change - guidance and approaches for local authorities today. Planning and Climate Change Coalition is a cross sector non-political grouping of over 50 organisations, led by the TCPA (Town and Country Planning Association) and Friends of the Earth (FoE), the Guide is to provide comprehensible guidance to local authorities on planning for climate change.

Hugh Ellis for the TCPA introduced it saying that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) empowers the Climate Act into planning strategies for the first time, and as the Climate Act incorporates fixed targets, these have become the responsibility of planning policy. This seems impressive, but Bob Neil, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government in response to a later question said that he thought targets were a mistake, and this does seem to represent Government thinking - it seems Government might not mind missing the Climate Act targets.
Nonetheless, the TCPA point is a positive one, and this Guidance is setting out to make it easy for Local Authorities' to take the Act seriously. He also emphasised the Local Plan approach can be used on renewables - to ensure they are developed with communities rather than against them.

Joan Walley Chair of the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee spoke about the role of the document in implementation of the Climate Change agenda. She reminded us that due to lack of action, we are now looking at the high emissions scenario, which envisages for instance sea level rise in East Anglia by 2100 of 2m, and that embedding sustainable development in education, not just university courses that are concerned with environmental development but much more widely, and informed public debate are urgently required.

A questioner asked if the document would be endorsed by the Government, would it be downloadable from the planning portal? Would it become statutory? Bob Neil said neither yes nor no.

Naomi Luhde Thompson spoke for FoE on growing the green economy.

Disappointing was the TCPA answer to the question of dissemination - they don't have any budget. So we should definitely be distributing and newslettering about it, and we should use it in discussions with planners or LAs.
The document looks good, lets use it!


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