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Column 11th December 2019

Are we really planning to build a low carbon future?

The National Planning Policy Framework, (NPPF) which governs planning decisions by councils, states that “sustainable development” should “mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy” and requires Councils “to take strong, outcome-focused action on climate change. “

Over 24,000 homes are in the process of being built in the Vale of the White Horse which may not meet the definition of sustainable development now included in the NPPF.

For example, most of the new homes being built at the moment have gas central heating, yet according to the Government in March this year, gas heating for new houses will be banned by 2025.

Few new homes include solar panels or any “world-leading” insulation standards.

Our Local Plan also encourages lifestyles with high carbon emissions by building homes which are more than walking/cycling distance from employment, health, leisure and education facilities and where public transport is limited.

In addition, none of our local car parks have charging points for electric vehicles.

Many of the properties in Wantage and Grove are advertised as being “close to Didcot” and “within easy commute to London and Oxford” and most of the new residents’ lifestyles will increase the emissions not reduce them.

Yet in March 2007 the District Council signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change which sets out that the council “acknowledges the increasing impact that climate change will have on our community during the 21st century and commits to tackling the causes and effects of a changing climate on our district”.

The final part of the Local Plan wasn’t approved until earlier this year and although it mentioned using “zero-carbon and energy-positive technology to ensure climate resilience” there are no policies which aim to reduce carbon emissions.

The District Council Climate Emergency Advisory Committee met for the first time on 15 October 2019.

The committee agreed to make the following recommendations – “that the council should aspire to become carbon neutral by 2030 and become a carbon neutral district by 2045.”

As a first step, the committee is recommending the council should aim for a 75% reduction in carbon emissions in their own operations by 2025 and a 75% reduction in carbon emissions in the district by 2030.

Aspirations and recommendations are not enough.

A 75% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 won’t happen without immediate action.


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