‘Net zero cannot happen without planning policy changes’

Climate change needs to be more of a priority in planning applications, a new report stresses

Net Hero Podcast

Net zero will not be possible without urgent changes to national planning, a new report claims.

Countryside preservation charity CPRE has conducted the research, sifting through 24 different local net zero plans outside of London adopted since 2019.

The report states that these plans are not ambitious enough, claiming that government inspectors must do more to make having a concise plan to tackle climate change a necessity.

CPRE is calling for it to become mandatory for planning approval that all new housing developments demonstrate a cut in carbon, a reduction in private car mileage and for further employment or expansion of a business to be approved, it must demonstrate how this change will drive down emissions.

It is urging all local councils to set a net zero goal and make this a central part of any levelling-up plans.

The analysis demonstrates that planning inspectors are not prioritising climate change as much as building targets when considering applications and stresses that this must change if net zero by 2050 is to be a possibility.

Chief Executive of the CPRE, Crispin Truman, said: “We’re not going to hit net zero by accident – we need to plan for it. Unfortunately, local authorities are hamstrung by national planning policy that is woefully behind the times on this issue.

“Local plans need to act like road maps plotting the path towards the sustainable future envisaged by the government’s climate change legislation. The fact that they don’t come close to doing so is proof of the failure of current national planning policy.

“In terms of climate, we are planning to fail. It is impossible to hit net zero if it isn’t prioritised in local plans. Providing the attractive, affordable homes that people need and ensuring it is environmentally sustainable is not an either/or trade off. We need to do both at the same time and with the same level of commitment.”