Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Green Overhaul for Planning System to Cut Emissions & Bills

The Housing and Planning Minister, Mr. John Healey MP has today announced a triple boost for councils tackling climate change by updating planning rules, granting nearly 10million to improve green skills and backing further progress by the second wave of eco-towns.
Three planning policies have been overhauled so that councils have the very latest targets and guidance to address climate change, putting them in the driving seat of change.

Combined, the new policy statements (Climate Change, Natural Environment and Coastal Change) will give councils a green planning rulebook so new sustainable developments are planned and built with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and with the future climate in mind.

Proposals for the new climate change planning policy will ensure new developments are built in the right places, utilising sustainable sources of energy and encouraging the installation of electric car charging points.

To help councils, Mr. Healey has today granted nearly 10million to boost their expertise as green champions, updating the tools and know-how they need to develop sustainable housing and energy sources for their areas.

Mr. Healey also confirmed that a further two new areas have been added to proposed eco-town second wave originally announced in December. Two more councils East Devon District Council and Fareham Borough Council have expressed an interest in using eco-town standards for new settlements in their area. The bids need to meet the pioneering green standards set out in the eco-towns planning policy statement published last July, and will be subject to widespread public consultation and local planning approval before going ahead.

The Minister has announced a share of £10,000,000 for these areas, originally announced in December, to help generate plans and early win projects. The funding will help get proposals and masterplans off the ground, introducing greener living not only for people who go on to live in the new eco-towns, but for the thousands of people already living nearby

Mr. Healey, said:

"Today I am announcing a triple boost for councils to tackle climate change. Overhauled planning policies will act as a new green planning rulebook and the 10m for councils will provide training to help deliver action on the ground. I am also pleased to announce two new areas in the eco-town second wave. Councils are making great progress and already highlighting where they can apply tough green standards in new developments. This signals real and radical momentum to change and to re-think how we design our towns and homes for the future.

"We know we need greener, renewable energy if we are to meet our ambitious low carbon targets. We also know that the ways and means for people to access this energy needs to be quicker and easier.

"The tougher, better guidelines for planning give councils a new blueprint, reflecting the latest targets and ensuring councils put combating climate change at the heart of future development ultimately saving people money on their bills and reducing emissions.

"A consultation has been launched today for the new climate change planning policy, to ensure new developments are built in the right places, so that where people live and work helps secure radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and developments are resilient to the effects of our changing climate. This includes requirements to reduce the need for people to travel between where they live and work, encouraging the installation of electric car charging points, better public transport and improved walking and cycling links.

"The proposals aim to ensure that more of our energy will be from renewable energy sources, and applications for such sources are approved more quickly. Local councils have a hugely important role to play. Therefore empowering local authorities and giving them the skills to approve these projects means we could release more green energy from developments."
Mr. Healey also confirmed a final planning policy for managing coastal change, giving new planning powers to coastal communities to help their local economy and tourist industry. After extensive consultation, all inappropriate development such as housing will continue to be banned in areas vulnerable to coastal erosion. But there will no longer be a blanket ban on temporary development that has wider economic benefits, an acceptable coastal use and could be relocated when required.

The third boost comes in the form of a consultation on the Natural Environment planning policy, which provides councils with updated guidance to plan for and provide for green infrastructure networks of parks, cycleways, rivers, allotments and trees on streets.

The guidelines aim to boost the nations health and fitness even further by allowing more sports clubs to stay open after dark with hi-tech floodlights that cut light pollution. With floodlighting for local sports pitches, people will have more opportunities to make use of facilities in the evenings.

The City of Lincoln, North Kesteven District, West Lindsey District, and Lincolnshire County Councils wish to achieve zero carbon development that is highly adaptive to climate change and to commit to the Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement standards. A key focus on the future will be on urban extension development options around Lincoln and at Gainsborough. These potential urban extensions are mainly in single ownerships which would help to secure eco-town concepts and a high standard of sustainability. This funding award of up to £1,500,000 will support the Joint Committee in driving forward their core strategy for publication in 2011, by enabling them to undertake a detailed assessment of meeting higher environmental standards, particularly for green infrastructure and energy usage. In Gainsborough it will support a highly innovative project to retrofit existing terraced and new build housing, including the remodeling of a traditional terrace and street, by introducing greenspace and linked to a combined heat and power plant.

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