PLANNING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Australian fires, storms and severe flooding, Greta Thurnberg and Extinction Rebellion have brought to the top of the agenda what CPRE and other environmental NGOs have campaigned for over many years – the need to look after our environ-ment, the air we breathe, the land and rivers, wild-life, the oceans and the Planet.

CPRE’s work involves making positive suggestions, backed up by research. This mainly happens during the consultation processes before national and local plans are finalised. Planning applications are then monitored to see that they go according to the plans. Recent Government initiatives to devolve planning locally through Neighbourhood Plans and Community Land Trusts have been welcomed as those who live locally know what is needed in their area and the best ways for it to be done.

For Housing, CPRE asks for all houses, and employment buildings such as offices, to be energy generating as well as energy efficient and to be built with strong materials. We recently objected to the energy supply for new houses being gas and asked for solar panels and heat pumps to be installed to create renewable energy.

Major developers are saying there are not enough heat pumps being made as yet but if regulations are not tightened up there will be less stimulus to make them so we have to continue lobbying at all levels of government. Suitable brownfield sites in urban areas should be re-used and there should be no building on flood plains.

For Transport the need is for more public transport and more freight by rail to reduce pollution and congestion, not more roads. In Wiltshire and the South West, Councils which have pledged to make dealing with climate change a priority are still backing the tunnel through Stonehenge and roads to the east and south of Chippenham.

For Land, CPRE’s work in the past has helped to create National Parks and Areas of Outstanding of Outstanding Beauty where access is open to all and farming practices continue to enhance the soil. We encourage and support farming to create fertile soils without the use of chemicals, plant more trees and hedgerows for wildlife and areas for carbon storage and the planting of trees and making lagoons for rivers upstream to reduce flooding. We support local food.

For Waste, the watchwords are to reduce, reuse and recycle waste – waste water, minerals, plastics, energy and food. We have campaigned with others to keep a household recycling centre open.

There is more to do, but thanks to more people real-ising the need and to all the young who have marched, the carbon output has levelled instead of going up, without harming the economy. Now the task is, with the exciting developments in renewable energy and hydrogen, to reduce the level to reach zero carbon.

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