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Spatial planning for climate resilience and Net Zero (CSE & TCPA)

1. Outline

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) commissioned the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the Town and Country Planning Association to conduct research into the barriers and opportunities to delivering climate mitigation and adaptation through the spatial planning system at the local authority level in England. The research examined the English planning system and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and draws this together with a survey of planning practitioners, local plan case studies and stakeholder roundtables.

2. Key messages

The research highlighted that the planning system has the potential to be a key tool for Net Zero and climate resilience at the local level but is not delivering on this. It makes over twenty recommendations to the Committee on closing this gap between the current performance and potential of the system at the local plan level.

The first set of recommendations relate to systemic change required to align the planning system with climate policy, which include:

  1. Consistent alignment of planning policy with mitigation and adaptation actions in the Climate Change Act. In particular, the NPPF must make clear the primacy to be afforded to climate change in plan-making and decision-making.
  2. Embedding climate change and spatial planning across decision-making levels.

The second set relate to more specific measures, directed at parts of the current system, highlighting a need for:

  1. Improved guidance on local carbon budgets and resilience frameworks.
  2. More detailed methodologies on specific areas of planning policy, such as on embodied carbon, resource efficiency and allocation of land for adaptation measures.
  3. Enabling local and multi-agency delivery of adaptation and mitigation at appropriate scales.
  4. Revoking the 2015 Written Ministerial Statement on plan-making and replacing it with a statement confirming that planning authorities are able to set more ambitious local standards on energy efficiency.
  5. A strategy for funding, resourcing and supporting local authority planning to address climate goals.
  6. Increasing knowledge, awareness and capacity across other stakeholders in the planning system, such as the Planning Inspectorate.