West Suffolk Local Plan (Regulation 18) Issues and Options October 2020

Part 2 - local issues

Part 2 - 2. Climate change

2.1. National guidance requires planning authorities to take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change. People should be encouraged to reduce consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and low carbon development encouraged, including retaining and enhancing natural environments capable of absorbing carbon (known as carbon sinks). Planning policies can also contribute to preventing soil, air, water and noise pollution, and land instability.

2.2. Good planning can help to shape places to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience and new developments can be designed to avoid vulnerability to climate change and should incorporate adaptation measures.

2.3. Tackling climate change through mitigation and adaptation will underpin many different areas of the new local plan and elements of this topic are included in the following sections:

  • Transport - cutting vehicle emissions, improving access to sustainable modes of transport, and maximising trends for active travel and improving opportunities for walking and cycling.
  • Housing - encouraging sustainable construction and standards for thermal performance and energy efficiency.
  • Environment - encouraging sustainable modes of transport, environmental quality and halting the loss of biodiversity through green infrastructure provision, improving air quality, and ensuring sufficient water capacity.

Implications of the sustainability appraisal (SA) scoping report information

2.4. The SA scoping report identifies the following key sustainability issues for climate change mitigation:

  • Falling greenhouse gas emissions in West Suffolk broadly reflect a UK-wide trend, though emissions per person in the district are high relative to those at regional and national levels. It will be important to identify ways in which policy can enable these emissions to further reduce.
  • Solar PV generation represents a significant proportion of renewable energy capacity in West Suffolk. To achieve ongoing emissions reductions, particularly in relation to transport and heat, further capacity should be considered through a broader range of renewable and low carbon technologies and projects.

Electric charging vehicle in West Suffolk ft. Leader John Griffiths
Electric vehicle charging in West Suffolk with Council Leader, Councillor John Griffiths

Issues for the local plan

2.5. Identify the ways planning policy can support the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

2.6. Action on climate change is an integral part of the culture of plan-making and climate issues are central to policy preparation. The Climate Change Act 2008 introduced a statutory target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to at least 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, stepped every five years. In June 2019 the government committed to bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

2.7. In July 2019 West Suffolk Council declared a climate emergency and established the West Suffolk Environment and Climate Change Taskforce. This is enabling the council to assess its existing and future activities and enhance its responsible use and protection of the natural environment.

2.8. The West Suffolk Local Plan will therefore play a key role in implementing the Government and council's ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.