Net Zero Strategy

Whilst world leaders discuss strategies to avert disaster at COP26, it seems appropriate to look at planning in the context of climate change.  Government published “Net Zero Strategy – Building Back Greener” in October, pursuant to the Climate Change Act 2008. The document, although weighty, is light on how planning can help to achieve net zero. 

The planning system will come into play in various ways, regulating and administrating various elements of the Strategy such as biodiversity trade-offs and gains, carbon capture clusters and charging infrastructure to name just a few.  However, there are scant direct references to how planning can help facilitate net zero.  In fact, the document puts the issue back,

“government is considering how the planning system can further support our commitment… We will make sure that the reformed planning system supports our efforts to combat climate change and help bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050… we intend to review the National Planning Policy Framework to make sure it contributes to climate change mitigation and adaption as fully as possible”.

We will have to wait to see whether any radical proposals come forward! In the meantime the Strategy notes that the National Model Design Code (the subject of a previous Ortolan article) “provides tools and guidance… to help ensure developments respond to the impacts of climate change” etc. If you are a regular reader, you will not be surprised to learn that government is linking net zero delivery to levelling up.  “… net zero and levelling up go hand in hand.  Delivering net zero allows us to boost living standards by supporting jobs and attracting investment in the green industries of the future, which can be in areas that need this the most.” 

In the last issue we touched on spatial planning and the impact that place design can have on travel (and consequential emissions).  This is clearly one element of a complex planning puzzle that must include micro and macro changes.   

It is interesting that whilst CPO26 takes place the decision on the planned, and highly controversial, Cumbrian coal mine remains outstanding. Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) will make the ultimate decision on whether the coal mine should be permitted once the Planning Inspectorate have prepared their report.  With so much current focus on the climate it is a stretch to believe that even if consent is granted, the decision will not be challenged.

All 367 pages of the Net Zero Strategy – Building Back Greener are available through this link:

Posted on 12 November, 2021 by Ortolan

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