Friday, April 17, 2020

Planning for the climate and ecological emergency

The draft of an 'emergency' SPD that was attached to the January blog post has been presented to a Friends of the Earth 'emergency' conference and, with their members' help, is now to be in a form [Climate and ecological emergency SPD] that FoE is prepared to promote and test with their contacts  both in and outside local planning authorities.

The model SPD includes the justification for an LPA drafting and adopting such a document and makes the claim that it would be perverse not to do so, especially for councils that have declared an emergency as most now have done. It then sets out the areas which are under the control of the planning system/regulations and to which development plan/local plan policies would already apply.  And then suggests how these policies could operate in ways consistent with  the climate and ecological emergency.

The advantage of a SPD is the speed in which it can be adopted compared to a new local plan (months instead of years), implied by an emergency situation.  Having an 'oven ready' version would enable councils that are severely short of resources to cover this gap in their formally adopted  development plan documents.  An SPD would not necessarily 'get climate done' even at the local level, but it would make available well grounded evidence for decision-makers (officers, committees, appeal inspectors and the SoS) to take into account as a material consideration under S38(6).  Even if a SPD in this form would stretch beyond the justification for this form of policy-making, a guidance note along similar or identical lines would still receive weight to the extent that it is based on a gamut of up to date and official/Government advice.

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