Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:10 pm on 23rd June 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Carolyn McKenzie:

The earlier speaker made some really good points; I back up all those points, but I will not reiterate them. At the local level, it is very much about integration across different policies. There is some really good stuff in the Bill, but integration across all the different policies will be key. This is not just about the big infrastructure, such as wind farms or EV charging; it is about making sure that environmental considerations are integrated across all projects in infrastructure and all levelling-up projects, because a pound spent on levelling up can deliver on your outcomes for net zero or biodiversity, and investment in net zero and biodiversity can deliver on your levelling-up ambitions as well.

In addition, although there is a real need for some of the big infrastructure projects, if I take a look at Surrey as a whole and our net zero emissions, the biggest proportion of those emissions, 41%, is down to private sector transport, and 31% to 33% is down to domestic housing. Those local actions—local public transport and active travel to get people out of their cars, and remote working, as well as tackling retrofit—have the potential to not only reduce emissions, but to drive jobs and growth and tackle inequalities, because inequality is hugely linked to the environment: a lot of our poorer communities have the poorest environments. The one thing I will repeat from Richard’s comments is that there is a lack of recognition that a healthy environment for all is really important when it comes to having a healthy economy and a healthy social area as well.

The last point I would like to make is about taking a place-based approach. Funding is often fragmented, competitive, and focused on specific things like EV cars or renewable energy. At the county level, we are very much looking at a place-based approach where we can link things together and look at a community as a whole. If we could link all that funding together and have a pot that delivers on an evidence-based approach that says what is needed in the area and links up all of our ambitions around health, economy, social and environment, that would be a lot easier, and we could make funding deliver more than the separate, individual pots could. Having place-based funding that is based on local evidence of need would be really helpful.