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UK planning policy failing to live up to climate ambition

​The UK Government has not adopted a cohesive planning strategy to deliver on its ambition to fight climate change, according to a new report from the Committee for Climate Change. 

This is the second time in recent months that the Committee for Climate Change has warned about the UK’s progress towards its climate goals. In May, a report from the committee warned that the UK Government would need to upskill workers in order to achieve its net zero ambitions, while now it’s warning that the planning system isn’t even set up to meaningfully deal with the UK’s drive to cut emissions. 

During the forming of its latest report, the Committee for Climate Change noted that, used correctly, the planning system could be a tool that drives carbon reductions across the country. Unfortunately, when looking at real world examples of its use, the report found its performance to be lacking. 

Both the Westminster Government and local councils across the country were in the crosshairs of the report, with Westminster being criticised for failing to leverage planning reforms to kickstart the green revolution, while local authorities were notably absent when it came to the push to decarbonise. In fact, the report found that there was no local plan that was fully aligned with the UK’s net zero pathway. 

The report’s findings were echoed by the Electrical Contractors Association, which agreed that local council planning tools are not being used to facilitate low-carbon development evenly across the UK. 

The ECA noted that it has long campaigned for more joined-up policy and a top-down approach from central government which would enable local councils to properly plan, fund, implement and maintain crucial low-carbon infrastructure, such as public EV charge points and power network upgrades.  

Luke Osborne, the ECA’s Energy & Emerging Technologies Solutions Advisor, commented, “Achieving Net Zero Carbon requires a massive, concerted effort from all corners of government, at both the national and local levels.

“This latest report from the CCC has shed light on a chronic lack of resources and an institutional culture that can act as a barrier to low-carbon development. If this is not rectified through joined-up policy from the top, we risk missing the boat on new technologies and infrastructure that could allow Britons to charge their cars, insulate their homes, and use renewable electricity easily and safely.

“The UK has a legally binding target to make a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035 and become a net zero emitter by 2050. To decarbonise the grid, we need long-term strategic incentives and consumer education about the benefits of low-carbon alternatives. Without a strategic plan which considers grid capacity and carbon use, our progress towards these targets will be impeded.”

As part of its warning, the ECA has called on the Government to: 

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