Climate change reduction policies in Teignbridge District Council’s Local Plan will be more strongly enforced and ‘beefed-up’.
The council has declared a climate emergency and aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and is set to appoint a dedicated officer to the role.
New policies that relate to climate change and the environment are set to be brought forward as part of the Local Plan review, but councillors on Tuesday morning unanimously agreed that the existing policies are given more weight in planning decisions.
(Image: Daniel Clark)
Policies that the council already have include reflecting the national carbon reduction target of 100 per cent by 2050, equivalent to 48 per cent by 2033 when the plan ends, requiring adequate provision of transport infrastructure, including that for electric vehicles and charging points, and that development proposals should seek to minimise their carbon footprint both during construction and in use and a carbon reduction plan should be submitted to demonstrated how it will be achieved.
Senior Planning Officer, Trevor Shaw, officer, said at Tuesday morning’s executive meeting: “While there are clearly improvements that can be made to our existing policies, the regulatory provisions for introducing new policy requirements significantly limit the scope for doing this outside of the normal statutory plan making process.
“In the next couple of years or so, therefore, the most practical course of action within the local planning dimension is to take steps to give appropriate weight to the relevant Local Plan policies.
“By unanimously declaring a climate emergency, the council has indicated that it believes policies like these are key to the consideration of planning applications.”
However, concern was raised by Cllr Adrian Patch about developers using this an excuse to get out of providing other ‘planning gains’, and said it may give them a ‘get out of jail free card’.
Cllr Patch was concerned about a line in Mr Shaw’s report to the meeting which said: “It should be noted however that requiring the achievement of reduced carbon emissions and the provision of electric vehicle infrastructure may lead to increasing viability difficulties for developers. There is therefore a possibility that other planning gains (such as affordable housing, community facilities etc.) sought through the development management process may need to be balanced when determining applications.”
Mr Shaw said that he felt it was right to outline what the policies were and the implications in planning terms of what may happen.
Cllr Jackie Hook, portfolio holder for climate change, said that she welcomed the report and that it was good news that the existing planning policies were going to be given more weight than they currently have been.
Cllr Gary Taylor, portfolio holder for planning, added: “There is therefore much that we can do within the provisions of our current Local Plan to contribute to reductions in carbon emissions.”
Future polices that are set to come forward through the Local Plan review and through the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will mean that the council can plan proactively for minimising carbon emissions and embracing latest smart technologies, and that policies to this effect are currently being drafted and will be consulted on in the next publication of the Local Plan and GESP
Mr Shaw’s report said that the refreshed policies would include:
- all development proposals will include the infrastructure to be ready for electric vehicles
- A low carbon, efficient transport network to serve the Greater Exeter area
- Applicants for all developments which propose the construction of new home(s) or non-residential floorspace will be required to submit a Carbon Reduction Plan
- Maximising the proportion of energy generated within new developments that come from renewable or low carbon sources;
- The setting up of a carbon offsetting fund where it is not feasible or viable to deliver carbon reduction requirements on-site
- Support for low carbon and renewable energy schemes, smart energy networks and community owned low/zero carbon energy projects
The executive meeting also heard that due to delays in the GESP process, the council planned to ‘fast track’ part of the Local Plan review on policies that relate to how development takes place, and would include policies relating to climate change, design, environmental conditions, green infrastructure and housing types.
(Image: Daniel Clark)
Current timescales would see a draft plan is set to come forward in January 2020 with the plan to be formally adopted by July 2021.
The second part of the Local Plan review, covering all policies which relate to where development takes place, and where it sets out the strategy for delivering new homes, employment land, facilities and supporting infrastructure, would take place over a four year period.
Cllr Martin Wrigley said: “This is a very good step forward to get the climate change and environment policies beefed up.”