Authorities not including carbon targets in Local Plans risk legal action

2 Sep 19

Lawyers from an environmental charity are writing to 100 councils in England to remind them of their legal obligations to include carbon reduction targets in their Local Plans.

ClientEarth is warning councils if they do not make carbon reduction targets “central” to their new planning policy they risk legal action.

Local planning authorities – usually the local council – should set out a 15-year vision for development in their areas, which addresses economic, infrastructure, social and environmental priorities as well as housing need.

ClientEarth, made up of lawyers and environmental experts, has highlighted UK planning and environmental legislation requires that Local Plans include “robust evidence-based carbon targets”.  

Sam Hunter Jones, climate lawyer for ClientEarth, said: “There is collective failure by local authorities across England to plan adequately for climate change.

“Too often climate change is perceived to be just a national or international issue and therefore solely the responsibility of central government.

“Clearly central government needs to do more, as the recent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress reports stress. Yet so many of the daily decisions around new and existing infrastructure – such as new buildings, roads and utilities – are made at the local level.”

The warning comes at a time when many councils across the country have declared climate emergencies and announced local carbon reduction targets, the group said.

Hunter Jones claimed that developing “climate-sensitive” plans can produce benefits for areas such as health, air, water quality, employment, energy affordability, community cohesion and biodiversity.

David Renard, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are already doing a great deal to protect the environment and health of our communities, including mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

“However, councils can do so much more if they are properly and sustainably funded, allowed to set planning fees locally and if policies, such as permitted development rights, are scrapped as they allow developers to ignore community needs and undermine Local Plans.”

The UK government was recently criticised for its financial support for fossil fuel energy development in developing countries.

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