Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Osborne as chief planner

We live in a strange world where the Chancellor, George Osborne, tals about delegation of powers to the regions and does not trust his own colleague(s) in the Communities Department with the job of land use planning. Greg Vlarke, potentially a very able Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has had to watch while the Chancellor and Business Secretary Sajid Javid issue a paper that pulls the rug from under his feet by cancelling the zero carbon homes target that was set for 2016. 

Part of the strangeness is that this sparked objections from businesses that had been preparing for the increase in standards.  No doubt the laggards had outnumbered the smart companies and we will now have a leveling down for a few years while substandard homes are added to the 80% that are currently at Energy Certificate Band D or below.  Removing carbon tax credits from renewables has struck at the heart of the wind industry but also threatened the future of Drax and its massive power station that provides up to 7% of the county's electricity from biofuels. This is a very questionable source of energy but shows the lack of consistency in national planning if the Chancellor feels that he can intervene on his whim and our prayer.

It might be down to planners on the ground to adopt an honest (based on reliable evidence) approach to the presumption in favour of sustainable development and only propose (private sector) and approve (public sector) housing that is zero carbon - and rely on support from Greg Clark in resisting more sub-standard housing that will add to the burden placed on future generations.  To meet the Climate Change Act targets or budgets overall carbon emissions have to be reduced by between 6% and 10% per year, until this Act is repealed and the Government goes to Paris in December without any remaining credibility.