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Climate Change and the Planning System

Dr Pavlos Eleftheriadis

Local Councils can do more to address the challenges of climate change through the planning system argues Pavlos Eleftheriadis, a barrister specialising in public, planning and EU law. At an interview for LexisPSL Environment and Tracey Clarkson-Donnelly Eleftheriadis outlined some of the ways in which councils can take more effective action. When asked how can local authorities most effectively integrate action on climate change into local planning he said: 

"It seems that for a number of reasons local authorities have not exercised their powers over climate change very effectively over the past few years.  It is beyond doubt that one key reason is their lack of resources, given the financial squeeze of recent years (assessed by the National Audit Office to be up to 46% cut in funding for planning services). But changes in government policy have also suggested a loss of focus. For example the withdrawal of the 2016 ‘zero-carbon home’ target has been shown to have had an impact on local policy for promoting low carbon homes in England. The same applies to the withdrawal of the ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’ in 2015. A very thorough report of English Local Plans by the Town and Country Planning Association published in November 2016 (‘Planning for the Climate Challenge? Understanding the Performance of English Local Plans) concludes that local authorities ‘are not dealing with carbon dioxide emissions effectively’. It found, for example, that most authorities said that their local plan policy on renewables did not form part of a wider strategy to meet the national targets or had no specific date in mind. The report finds that ‘taken as whole, it is clear that since 2012 climate change has been de-prioritised as a policy objective in the spatial planning system". 

The interview was published on 22 March and can be found in full here