Councils in England urged to set robust local carbon targets

In July 2019, the Committee on Climate Change published its annual report to Parliament on the UK’s progress in reducing emissions and adapting to the risks of climate change. The committee outlined that the UK was on track to miss carbon targets by a larger margin than last year.

Local planning policy is currently underperforming as a means of regulating emissions from building and transport. In 2016, the Town and Country Planning Association found that only 30 per cent of the authorities surveyed assessed policies’ carbon impacts. Since then, there is no clear indication that the picture has improved, and several councils have declared climate emergencies.

The Royal Town Planning Institute has emphasised that without adequate planning systems in place, there is no realistic way to progress to zero carbon. They recommend that all development should be able to demonstrate that it is fit to take its place in a set-zero emissions future. In order to achieve climate-proof planning policy, local authorities are now encouraged to do three things:

  • Set a local carbon target framework.
  • Demonstrate proposed planning policies consistent with this.
  • Monitor performance on at least an annual basis using relevant indicators.

The damning Committee Report demonstrates an obvious need for change across the economic sectors. It is therefore important to consider how planning could contribute towards a stronger stance on climate change.

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