Local planners need support to hit net zero carbon target, RTPI says

Local planners need more support if they are to hit the UK’s new target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the UK’s leading planning body has said.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) yesterday called on the government to give local planners more resources, policies and powers to help them develop the UK’s carbon neutral infrastructure in time.

Launching a new campaign, Resource Planning for Climate Action, the RTPI has demanded that the government take several steps to aid planners, including taking radical green action around buildings and transport and developing a tool to help local authorities gauge local plans’ carbon impact.

Speaking at the RTPI’s annual conference in London yesterday, Ian Tant, chair of the RTPI, said: ‘It falls directly to planners to devise and implement policies to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in our buildings and transport infrastructure, and to facilitate carbon neutral energy generation. It also falls to us to engage our communities so they come with us to accept the necessary changes.’

‘Without planners or adequate planning systems and policies, there is no realistic way to progress to zero carbon,’ he warned.

The RTPI’s campaign comes following the Committee on Climate Change’s recent Net Zero UK report, which revealed that the government has made little to no progress on reducing the carbon emissions of the UK’s buildings or transport.

Among the RTPI’s demands is the re-introduction of the scrapped zero carbon homes standard, which required all new build homes to be zero carbon.

The body has also called for climate mitigation to form a ‘vital component’ of planning and infrastructure policy, and for the UK’s devolved nations and local authorities to be given the power and resources to lead efforts to mitigate climate change at a local level.

The RTPI has also stressed that the UK needs to invest more in green heat and sustainable transport infrastructure, with ministries such as the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) to collaborate over these efforts.

‘Now is the time for government to enable planners to take the lead to get things done,’ Tant added.

‘We need to have the resources, the tools and the national policies to do the job.  We need to be able to return rapidly to strategic and local policy making and to proactive delivery, rather than be left or regarded as a regulatory function.’

Last month the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) released a new framework which aims to help the construction industry achieve net zero carbon buildings in the UK.

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden

Digital News Reporter

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