Let’s start at the beginning. Chris has been inspired after watching Guy Martin’s Power Trip, Channel 4 series looking at Energy, the cost of it, renewables, the journey to net zero etc. Chris has decided to write a series of articles about energy, climate change and the role town planning plays. This is the first one….
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the long-term shift in global weather patterns and temperature due to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. These activities release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing a build-up over time. This is resulting in significant impacts on the planet, including rising temperatures, melting ice caps, sea-level rise, and changes in weather patterns.
Urgent action is needed to address this by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning to a low-carbon economy, improving land use practices, and reducing waste. Individual actions can also contribute to mitigating climate change.
How can the UK Planning System Help to Tackle Climate Change?
When it comes to tackling climate change, the planning process plays a crucial role in ensuring that land use is sustainable and contributes to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
The town planning system is responsible for shaping the built environment, including the location and design of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, and it is well placed to help reduce emissions and promote sustainable development.
In the UK, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, Section 19(1A) specifically requires that local plan policies be designed to ensure that land use in the local planning authority’s area contributes to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. The Act recognises that climate change is a significant challenge and local planning authorities have a duty to contribute to the solution.
Local planning authorities must integrate climate change considerations into all stages of the planning process, from plan-making to decision-taking. This includes identifying and assessing the impacts of climate change on the area, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring that new developments are designed to be resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The UK Government has provided guidance on how local planning authorities can integrate climate change considerations into their Local Plans. The National Planning Policy Framework (The Framework) sets out the government’s planning policies and is used by local planning authorities to guide their decision-making. The Framework requires that local planning authorities should take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, and that their policies should be based on the best available evidence.
The fourth edition of the comprehensive joint guidance on planning for climate change for local authorities, The Climate Crisis,
A Guide for Local Authorities on Planning for Climate Change has been launched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) earlier this week.
However, it’s not just local authority planners that can have an effect on climate change. The town planning system can also help mitigate climate change by promoting the efficient use of energy in buildings. This can be achieved through the implementation of building codes and regulations that encourage the use of energy-efficient technologies and materials, and the integration of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. The promotion of green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and other sustainability features can also play a role in reducing the carbon footprint of buildings.
The town planning system can contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change through the promotion of low-carbon and sustainable modes of transportation. This can be achieved through the provision of well-designed and accessible public transportation systems, the creation of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways, and the development of compact and walkable communities. These measures can help reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
In addition to reducing emissions, the town planning system can also help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. This can be done by considering the potential for rising sea levels, increased flooding, and other impacts when making decisions about land use and development. For example, the creation of green spaces and wetlands can help absorb excess water and reduce the risk of flooding, while the use of permeable paving and rain gardens can help manage stormwater runoff and reduce the risk of flooding.
Tools and Resources
The government has provided tools and resources to help town planners assess the impacts of climate change on their area and develop policies to address them. The Climate Just website provides information on how climate change affects different communities and how to ensure that policies are equitable and consider the needs of all members of the community. The UK Climate Projections provide information on the potential impacts of climate change on the UK, including changes in temperature, rainfall and extreme weather events, which can be used to inform policy development.
The Journey to Net Zero will not be easy, and our next article will look at this in a little more detail.
This article discusses the role of town planning in mitigating climate change. It explains that climate change is caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and highlights the urgent need for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to a low-carbon economy, improve land use practices, and reduce waste. Tools and resources are available to help town planners assess the impacts of climate change on their area and develop policies to address them. We all have our part to play in tackling climate change.
Other Resources we recommend are:
Climate Change: Climate change – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019: The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 (legislation.gov.uk)
The Climate Crisis, A Guide for Local Authorities on Planning for Climate Change: https://tcpa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/TCPA-RTPI-Climate-Guide-4th-edition-1.pdf