Planning system to tackle climate change

By Emmeline Saunders

Environmental activists are today campaigning to put climate change at the heart of the English planning system.

A cross-sector coalition of organisations, brought together by the Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), will lobby government to accept its recommendations to help tackle climate change.

A draft planning guide, unveiled to MPs today, suggests improvements to the planning system’s green credentials by ensuring it plays its part in slashing carbon emissions and meeting targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

Proposals include setting renewable energy targets for councils and establishing an education programme on climate change for councillors and planners.

The coalition also suggests local authorities should have a duty to map out green energy opportunities in their area that would help them meet their targets, overseen by a monitoring body.

Dr Hugh Ellis of the coalition said: “Justice and sustainable development have to be at the heart of the system. It’s not about mindless de-regulation, it’s about putting the planning system to work to save our communities.”

Friends of the Earth director Andy Atkins said: “The planning system must play a key part in UK efforts to meet its targets for tackling climate change.

“New guidance is desperately needed to boost green development and prevent carbon-hungry projects from being approved.

“Local councils have a major role to play in ensuring UK emissions reductions are met the government must ensure that local councils get serious about CO2.”

The campaign launch will be attended by housing and planning minister John Healey.

The government has already admitted the planning system must be improved to enable UK climate targets to be met.