Planning must include ‘smart energy’ to meet net zero carbon, says RTPI

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Smart energy needs to be incorporated into the national planning policy to support a smooth transition to a net zero carbon future, says the RTPI

A new report by the RTPI highlights the lack of attention given to ‘smart energy’ in national planning policy and guidance and the gap between what happens on the ground and the opportunities offered by smart energy.

The report states: “Nothing should be planned without demonstrating it is fit to take its place in a net zero emissions future… It makes no sense for what is planned and built today to be delivered in a way, or in places, that will require costly retrofitting tomorrow.”

The report finds notable strides have been taken to cut emissions using the existing planning toolkit, but the pace of change is out of step with the ambitions set out in the Clean Growth Strategy and what is needed to meet the UK’s legal commitments to decarbonise.

The perceived lack of attention given to cutting carbon emissions by MHCLG has pushed energy down the list of priorities for many local planning authorities, it finds.

The report is calling for a refresh of the National Planning Policy Framework or, with greater immediacy, a written ministerial statement, to give greater national political clarity that smart energy and climate change have equal status with planning for housing, transport and economic growth.

It also urges MHCLG and BEIS to work better together and devise a joint action plan that allows energy policy to be informed by planning and land use considerations, and carbon reduction to be achieved more effectively through local planning policy and implementation.

Ian Tant, RTPI president, said: “The government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, has recognised the crucial role of planners and planning in taking action on climate change. It is essential that our local planning authorities have the right resources and the right backing from Government to deliver the strong planning policies that will allow our nations and regions to achieve net zero carbon in transport and in our homes and buildings, as well as in business and energy production.

“This new report highlights the importance of curtailing carbon use in every aspect of the planning process. If we don’t, the Government simply won’t meet the UK’s legal commitment to net-zero carbon – and we will fail to garner the benefits to jobs and the economy that are offered by the switch to zero carbon.”

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