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Councils need more support to deal with the climate crisis

Central government must make it easier for councils to deal with the climate crisis, says Friends of the Earth. 

The call comes after a new BBC survey found that over a third of councils are supporting policies that could increase carbon emissions, such as new roads or airport expansions, despite almost 90% of councils having declared a climate emergency. 

Friends of the Earth is calling on the government to commit to a simple set of measures that will help local authorities deliver on the UK’s climate commitments, these include: 

  • A legal requirement that local authorities have to take UK climate targets into account when considering planning applications and giving them extra powers to refuse developments that would increase carbon emissions.
  • A clear role for local authorities set out in the forthcoming Net Zero Strategy, backed up by the long-term funding to match so that important climate solutions, like retrofitting houses, can be achieved.
  • The scrapping of its £27bn roads programme, with the funding instead reallocated to make public transport and active travel infrastructure reliable, safe and affordable for all.

person in blue denim jeans walking on pedestrian lane during daytime

Friends of the Earth has highlighted investment from the top down will not only help local leaders achieve their climate goals, but it will also aid the creation of quality, long-term green jobs, as well as better health as a result of cleaner air, warmer homes and access to green space, which could have cost savings for the NHS.

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Sandra Bell, said: ‘Councils have a vital role to play in confronting the climate emergency. It’s really important they show their willingness to act, but they also need the necessary powers, funds and resources to build a greener future.

‘Planning reform is an over-looked but crucial element in this. There should be a legal requirement that local authorities have to take UK climate targets into account when considering planning applications. We won’t come close to confronting the climate crisis if coal mines and airport expansions are approved and more car-dependent housing is built that fails to meet high energy efficiency standards.

‘Ministers should put councils at the heart of their climate strategy, so they can fulfil their potential to create the green jobs and healthy, resilient communities needed for the challenges of the 21st century.’

Photo by Phil Hearing

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