12th May 2008
Martin Whiteside and Philip Booth have written a response on behalf of Stroud District Green party group of councillors. They give a very warm welcome to this report for the Local Strategic Partnership, noting: "It is an excellent, important, clear and concise, report identifying the main issues."
Background: The Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) has established a small 'Think Tank' of its members to consider likely climate change and Peak Oil impacts and to identify the short and long term steps that will be required to help the local community adapt to change. The agenda is enormous and the Think Tank is working through the issues one by one. It is anticipated that it will take 12-18 months to complete the work.
The first round of Think Tank deliberations centred on the 'role of land use planning'. The subsequent report was considered at the February LSP meeting and agreed for consultation. The consultation will run to the end of May and thereafter the LSP will consider a final report and recommendations for action. The information will inform the development of the Council's Local Development Framework. The Think Tank also started its second investigation in February, which is into Housing. The draft report should go to the June LSP meeting. The 3rd and 4th areas of investigation are likely to be transport and food supply.
The Chair of the LSP has written to all members of the LSP and other interested parties inviting them to comment on the 'role of land use planning' report. The Cabinet Members have asked that a formal response be prepared and brought to the May 29 Cabinet meeting for consideration. The Cabinet members have asked members for comment by May 12.
Green party response
The Green party group would like to give a very warm welcome to this
report. It is an excellent, important, clear and concise, report
identifying the main issues.
Our key recommendation is that this report is given the attention and highest priority that it needs and requires. We would like to emphasise that we cannot afford to waste any time in taking action on the recommendations within this report. Indeed taking such actions now will have enormous environmental, social and economic benefits, while not acting will only add to problems and challenges that we will face in coming years.
We make a number of additional points:
QUESTION 1: Is the nature of the impacts and assets described by the LSP correct?
Point 4 The report recognises the shortcomings of the current UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) climate scenarios for the South West which is based on 2002 data. Since then research indicates that the impacts of climate change are likely to be considerably more severe and sooner than had been originally forecast. This adds a new urgency to actions that are needed. We would urge fast-tracking of all key measures that can reduce the impacts of climate change and peak oil.
Point 6 re peak oil. Evidence is increasing about the likelihood that we have reached peak oil. Oil prices have reached the highest ever. The impact of this is extremely serious, and the report notes the key elements but we would welcome also a mention that while this will impact severely on everyone it will particularly impact on lower income groups in the District and has the potential to lead to considerable unrest.
QUESTION 2: Are there other impacts or assets that the LSP should consider?
- Under social capital it is important to include family and friends. An enormous amount of support and social care is provided by these two groups - and they are different from 'Community Networks'.
- Need to include Human Capital - appropriate Knowledge and Skills people have - these will change with Peak Oil and Global Warming - perhaps knowing how to grow ones own food might become as valuable as being a financial adviser!
- it is important to consider the growing gap between Rich and Poor that could be exacerbated if energy is rationed on price rather than a fair system. This could promote social disintegration.
QUESTION 3: Is the approach of considering key assets in terms of the potential impacts an appropriate one for the LSP to pursue?
Yes as an initial approach it appears very useful to help focus on key areas. However needs to be within a spatial context. Although it is mentioned in para 29, there could be more emphasis in the report on planning the spatial and the links between the spatial and low carbon transport routes ie using spatial planning to better link living sites with workplaces, schools, leisure activities, health facilities etc. Ideally these should be closer together - therefore more houses and jobs closer to town centres and transport corridors. This could be where the big wins will come - we need to start now in doing this much more actively. An example is the recent Brimscombe Area Action Plan Issues and Options Paper produced by SDC where the link between more houses, local school spaces and employment opportunities is not really being made sufficiently. The result could easily be a development promoting more out-commuting and more travelling to school by car.
QUESTION 4: Priorities?
The last two bullet points overlap. Food supply will be a key area.
QUESTION 5: How best can local interests be engaged in developing and communicating a simple Stroud Story. One which is designed to engage local people in the debate concerning Global Challenges and ensure that these are appropriately considered through the development of the Sustainable Community Strategy and LDF?
Stroud District has done well to involve the community with it's Environment paper and the Sustainable Community Strategy. However more could be done to raise awareness about the likely impacts and actions needed to tackle climate change and peak oil impacts.
QUESTION 6: Does planning policy need to take a strong catchment management approach in order to help mitigate flooding?
Yes and we welcome the call for a strong detailed policy on SUDs as part of the way forward.
QUESTION 7: Does the national response to sea-level rise need greater coherence and is this an issue that the LSP should lobby on? And at the local level does the LDF process needs to consider the impacts of sea-level rise and frequent flooding on land allocations for housing and business?
- under point 20 the impact on the Berkeley and Oldbury nuclear sites should be considered. Nirex has noted that both Berkeley and Oldbury are cited as having a “high risk of flooding”. If Oldbury, although just outside the District, is to be used as a site for new nuclear with onsite radioactive waste storage then this could impact considerably on the District.
- the summer floods exposed the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure especially at Walham and Mythe: urgent attention needs to be given to key energy and water sites.
- We also would welcome work done to identify other industrial or waste sites that will be impacted by flooding.
QUESTION 8: Has the LSP identified the correct issues for the LDF process to consider in terms of hotter and drier summers?
Yes. On point 21 there is a need to consider water use efficiency, not just decentralised supply - and not only for new development.
QUESTION 9: Do the links between land use and emergency planning need to be better integrated to allow long term resilience to be designed into future communities? How best can this be achieved?
There still seems to be centralisation (e.g. closure of Weavers Croft, post offices and continued threats to local hospitals etc.)
QUESTION 10: Are the findings of the various public inquiries into the summer floods helping to better engage local communities in emergency and resilience planning?
There is some evidence of increased awareness but we need to do considerably more to engage communities. In many quarters there is still a denial that climate change even exists and few understand the term peak oil or have any notion about it's implications on our communities. We need to do much more to raise awareness in an empowering way so that we do not add to fear around this subject.
QUESTION 11: Does there need to be a shift towards more local production and consumption of basic services, particularly utilities and food?
QUESTION 12: Should enabling this shift to local production and consumption be a key consideration for the LDF and the Council’s new Economic Development and Regeneration Strategy being developed during 2008?
SOME ADDITIONAL POINTS:
- The report could benefit from recommending good practice like the pioneering work of Portland, Oregon
- Woking Borough are in the process of updating their pioneering policies. There is much to commend in their draft Climate Neutral Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which includes renewable energies and SUDs. They also have a useful sustainability checklist here
- Low Impact Development. Pembrokeshire have developed a SPG that sets the context for considering proposals for low impact development including the information the Council will require to assess a planning application and arrangements for monitoring permitted schemes. This is an area that needs much greater and urgent consideration in our planning guidelines. Download policy here
- green roofs is another example of a policy area that could be encouraged and supported.
- The Government has set out a timetable for the progressive tightening of building regulations (Part L) in 2010 and 2013, with the aim of achieving zero carbon new homes by 2016. This in our view shows a grossly insufficient sense of urgency.
- the need to remain open to increasing knowledge and understanding of
these issues. For example at present more information is needed to give
consideration of the embodied energy of building materials and energy
used in construction. The embodied energy in a typical building is
equal to many years of that building's energy consumption.