Planning system ‘not fit for purpose’ on tackling climate crisis – campaigners

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England’s planning system is “not fit for purpose” for tackling the climate crisis, campaigners have warned.

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank analysed the current planning system and its compatibility with achieving net zero and biodiversity targets.

It says there is no explicit goal within the planning system to support the delivery of net zero targets or nature restoration with environmental requirements often sitting outside of the system or conflicting with it.

The analysis also suggests that England will fail to become fully energy secure in a net-zero world under the current rate of development of onshore wind, under which it would take 4,700 years to reach the capacity called for by government advisers.

It comes after changes to planning laws in 2015 made it more difficult to gain permission for new onshore turbines, the campaigners said.

The IPPR has called for a “complete reset” of the English planning system to ensure that many more houses are built while also moving faster to meet net zero targets.

Recommendations include reinstating national and local housebuilding targets so local councils approve of more homes to be built while new neighbourhoods should be compatible with net zero and contribute to restoring nature.

This will mean linking decisions on new home building into plans for low-carbon transport networks.

Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director for energy, climate, housing, and infrastructure, said: “The current planning system in England is not remotely fit for purpose to build a net zero world, restore nature, or meet housing need.

“Fundamental planning reform is needed to accelerate efforts to reduce emissions and restore nature, rollout renewable energy generation, and to deliver the level of housebuilding that the country so desperately needs,” he said.

“Without a reset of the planning system all the main political parties will fail to deliver on their key objectives, from economic growth to energy security, and addressing the climate and nature crises.”

Maya Singer Hobbs, IPPR senior research fellow and lead report author, added: “None of the failures of the English system are inevitable.

“The de facto ban on onshore wind, the lack of coherence in environmental regulations and the lack of good quality housing are all solvable by reforming the system.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are scaling up renewable energy sources around the UK and since 2010 we’ve increased the amount of renewable energy connected to the grid by 500% – the second highest in Europe.

“Decisions about onshore wind are best made by local leaders who know their area best.

“We’ve consulted on proposals that will speed up planning permission where there is local support and are encouraging upgrades to existing wind farm sites.”

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