Investment in planning is key to delivering local climate action

The government’s net-zero strategy must align regional, national and local responsibilities, says the Royal Town Planning Institute in their latest report. 

According to the report a national investment programme is needed in order to encourage local authorities to collaborate across departments to deliver place-based climate action.

The report highlights that there are significant opportunities for joint working between planning officers and climate and sustainability colleagues, with planning playing a key role in allowing local authorities to integrate energy, transport and land-use strategies.

However, according to the researchers there continues to be a resourcing and skills gap within the planning profession that needs to be addressed to ensure that planners can play a leading role in the place-based response to the climate and ecological emergency from within local authorities.

The report identifies a number of opportunities for joint working within local authorities to better align planning and climate change including:

  • Aligning wider council climate action plans with planning
  • Developing supplementary planning guidance
  • Gathering evidence to inform policy development
  • Supporting pre-application discussions
  • Providing comments on planning applications
  • Feeding into local plan process
  • Monitoring the performance of plans and policies over time
  • Siting low carbon infrastructure
  • Post Covid-19 recovery planning
  • Providing Informal training
  • Changing conversations

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, said: ‘The Climate Change Act does not give Local Authorities targets, duties or resources to act on climate change, however, they are expected to respond and have a dual responsibility to deliver climate action both across their own estate (assets owned by the council) and the wider local authority area.

‘We have called for an investment of £67m over four years to deliver the equivalent of 1 FTE planner to work exclusively on climate-proofing policy and development management in each local authority. All local authorities should be able to explain how their planning policy is consistent with net zero targets

‘2021 must be the year we ‘build back better’, delivering a sustainable, green and inclusive recovery. As our campaign ‘Plan the World We Need’ highlights, planners and the planning profession will have a key role to play and centring climate justice within the profession is crucial.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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