Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence



  1.  With regard to climate change, the overarching aims for local and regional decision takers and stakeholders in the South East should be to:

      (a)  work to reduce the extent of future global climate change, through effective measures to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases within the region;

      (b)  work with a changing climate, through adaptation to its impacts (both risks and opportunities) within the region and to manage these for the benefit of present and future generations.

  2.  The guiding principle for 1a) must be to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases within the region by:

      (a)  designing any new developments to standards of high energy efficiency, low embedded carbon and good accessibility by public transport [eg high levels of insulation; minimal use of plastics; green transport plans for major employers, hospitals etc];

      (b)  promoting changes to existing development that will increase the efficiency of energy use in power, heating and transport [eg insulation];

      (c)  promoting local services to increase resource efficiency [eg local shops, recycling services etc];

      (d)  promoting land uses that serve as carbon sinks [eg community woodlands].

      (e)  Encouraging development and use of renewable sources of energy, preferably local [eg PVs, wind power, biomass etc];

      (f)  Reducing the amount of waste (particularly biodegradable waste), reducing the volume sent to landfill and maximising capture and use of greenhouse gases, particularly methane [eg waste minimisation, composting etc]

  3.  The guiding principle for 1b) must be to reduce risks from climate change by:

      (a)  guiding any new development to locations that best offer protection from the likely impacts—including flooding and drought, sea level rise, storminess, soil subsidence and heave and implications for supply and demand of essential services [eg preference to locations that have sustainable existing water supply rather than those that require long distance supply];

      (b)  ensuring that the design and layout of new developments (including buildings, open spaces and infrastructure) will be resilient or adaptable to the likely impacts during the development's lifetime [eg designing in flood protection and water-saving features; orientation to take advantage of solar gain for PVs etc];

      (c)  promoting changes to existing development that will enhance its resilience or adaptability to the likely impacts during its lifetime [eg improving site drainage; connecting to neighbourhood SuDS; introducing grey water recycling etc].

  4.  Within these guiding principles, there are a number of subsidiary principles that will be important in helping planners and other decision takers to take proper account of the causes of climate change and the risks and opportunities from its impacts. Policies and plans should:

      (a)  Protect existing land uses from the impacts of sea level rise and flooding only when it can be justified in social, economic and environmental terms, taking account of both costs and benefits;

      (b)  Avoid new development in locations that could constrain or reduce the effectiveness of future options for adaptation [eg development now that is not likely to prevent effective flood management in the future];

      (c)  Enable new development in areas at risk only where the development is itself resilient or adaptable to the likely impacts of climate change, can enhance other local adaptation to these and does not displace the effects elsewhere [eg raising floor levels in flood risk areas];

      (d)  Adopt technical solutions to impacts (for example, flooding and water supply issues) only where necessary and having considered other adaptive options beforehand, including alternative locations in areas at less risk;

      (e)  Locate new development so that it can be supplied with water and other resources in a sustainable manner under changing and variable climatic conditions. Sustainable supply should also include the requirements for water and other resources within the natural environment;

      (f)  Design new development and changes to existing development that are resilient to climate change impacts (eg subsidence);

      (g)  Where new or existing development may arise from responses to climate change, protect existing terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats from adverse impacts;

      (h)  Seek to compensate for any loss of habitat as a result of climate change or new development by creation of similar habitats in areas that will be suitable under changing climatic conditions;

      (i)  Minimise the negative health impacts associated with climate change [eg through provision of shading];

      (j)  Recognise the relationships between different natural and human activities, including the implications of climate changes responses (adaptation and mitigation) in one area for the ability of other areas to develop their own responses.

  5.  It is also important that policies and plans should promote development that enhances the natural environment and takes advantage of social, economic and environmental opportunities that may be afforded by climate change impacts or by the need for mitigation. Subsidiary principles here include:

      (a)  Promote local goods, services and facilities; and promote accessibility to these via public transport and transport infrastructure that is resilient to climate change impacts [eg farmers' markets, entrepreneurial responses to shifting consumer demand];

      (b)  Seek to create corridors and stepping stones that will allow species to migrate and adapt in response to climate change;

      (c)  Promote agricultural practices that are compatible with and adaptable to the impacts of climate change [eg winter water storage, new crops, farm diversification etc);

  Promote social and economic benefits of new habitat opportunities [eg tourism] and other land use changes [eg recreation at reservoirs].

1 October 2004

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