Examination of Witnesses

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

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Paul Miner:

I should say at the beginning that I am speaking today on behalf of CPRE, the countryside charity, and point out that CPRE is leading the Better Planning Coalition, which includes a wide variety of environmental, social and community organisations that have come together to put forward a shared view on how we can improve the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and make it stronger for people and nature more generally. We are working in a number of key areas. Climate change is one of them.

In CPRE’s view, at the moment the planning system has an institutional weakness in dealing with climate change. There is a duty on local authorities in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 for their development plan document—so local plans essentially—to contribute towards the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. However, that duty is not strong enough. It does not consistently influence local authorities or planning inspectors examining plans or appeals. The Bill merely reiterates this existing and insufficient duty. We have seen, for example, recent planning stats reports for 24 recently adopted local plans that show only one mention of climate change for 24 of boosting housing supply. The priorities of the planning system have become massively skewed and unbalanced.

We want to see in the final version of the Bill some additional clauses that apply the climate change duty both more meaningfully, so that it clearly reiterates the national commitments made in the Climate Change Act 2008, but also applies the climate change duty to national planning policy as well as just local plans. It should also apply to decision making on specific planning applications, as well as just in the making of local plans. We also need to see more detail about what the duty means both in terms of mitigation, achieving Climate Change Act targets on budget and climate budgets, and in terms of adaptation, relating it to relevant statutory risk assessments and compliance. The coalition is coming forward with some further ideas on this, which we are very keen to discuss further with the Committee in due course.