Councils face a legal challenge unless they force developers to make new homes more energy efficient and less reliant on cars. Client Earth, an environmental campaign group, has written to 105 local authorities in England warning them that they will breach their legal obligations if they fail to include “robust carbon reduction targets” in their plans. The group, which won three court cases against the government forcing it to take tougher action on air pollution, has given the councils eight weeks to respond and said it may commence litigation if they fail to comply. Client Earth said that councils had obligations under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive to ensure that local planning policies met climate change objectives. Sam Hunter Jones, a lawyer for the group, said councils could meet their obligations by requiring developers to minimise emissions from new housing estates, such as by encouraging residents to cycle, walk or use public transport and ensuring homes have electric car charging points. They could also include more tree planting and on-site renewable energy generation in their designs.
Times 3rd Sept 2019 read more »
Specific areas of action for local authorities, Hunter Jones said, should be transport and the built environment. Both of these sectors are largely linked to local planning – and both have come under repeated fire from the CCC over slow progress on decarbonisation to date. Lagging progress in both spheres has repeatedly been linked to poor national policy support and high upfront technology costs, compounded by a lack of funding and expertise at a council level. In transport, for example, a recent study by the Guardian found that one in four UK councils has paused the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, largely over funding concerns. On buildings, the CCC has attributed poor progress on decarbonisation to a lack of incentives surrounding retrofitting and insulation.
Edie 2nd Sept 2019 read more »