Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:56 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Dr Ellis:

I think there is a huge opportunity to do that. It is essential that the Bill contains a purpose for planning if you want to recreate public trust by making it clear in statute what the system is for. It is interesting that there are currently four outcome duties in law on planning, but there is nothing in the Bill equivalent to what we see in Bills on social care or in national parks, where there is a clear sense of what planning is meant for.

If you want this new journey—we all do—to benefit the future of England, you need to need to set down that purpose around sustainable development. That is an inclusive goal; we are already internationally signed up to it, and for me, it is the only development goal that is credible for the future of this nation. Underneath that, I would quickly say that it is heartbreaking to see the potential that planning has to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation and the dysfunction that we are currently presented with.

I have just seen an inspector remove a net zero policy from an area action plan for a new development in West Oxfordshire. That tells you that Government policy urgently needs to be reviewed. The whole sector has been calling for an urgent ministerial statement to clarify how net zero is delivered. We really cannot wait for the NPPF review at the end of 2024 for that; it must happen now. On adaptation, the issue is even more serious, in terms of having to begin to think about shifting population off the east coast, the challenges of surface water flooding, the endless flooding in Calder valley and how plans need to grasp the allocation of land for natural flood defence.

I know that I cannot go on, but all I can see is huge potential. We need to bind the planning and climate Bills together. The climate Bill must have specific requirements on the sixth carbon budget, and stronger requirements on adaptation, specifically around water and flooding.