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Planning

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

I am today publishing for consultation proposals for:

A Planning Policy Statement: “Planning for a Low-Carbon Future in a Changing Climate”.

A Planning Policy Statement: “Planning for a Natural and Healthy Environment”.

I am also today publishing as final policy Planning Policy Statement 25 Supplement: “Development and Coastal Change”.

I am placing copies of these two consultations, both of which close on 1 June, and the final policy on development and coastal change, along with an accompanying summary of consultation responses to that policy, in the Library of the House.

Moving towards a low-carbon economy requires a revolution in the way we design, heat and power our buildings. Planning must respond to this challenge, and help make low-carbon lifestyles the norm. Whatever is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future, past emissions mean that some climate change is already inevitable. As well as planning for a low-carbon future we must therefore also plan for a future with a changing climate—and do this in a way that protects our natural and cultural heritage.

Planning for a Low-Carbon Future in a Changing Climate

The draft Planning Policy Statement: “Planning for a Low-Carbon Future in a Changing Climate” updates and brings together in one place existing planning policy on climate change and renewable energy. When finalised, this streamlined policy will be central to our national series of planning policy statements, and operate alongside the new suite of national policy statements for energy infrastructure. It will provide the overarching framework for our planning policies on climate change, both on measures to reduce carbon and to adapt to a changing climate.

We already have planning policy on climate change (published in 2007) and renewable energy (2004). This consultation brings together this policy into a single document and reflects the ambition to tackle climate change set out in the “Low Carbon Transition Plan”. This Government’s determination to transform how we use energy was underlined when we published on 2 March 2010 “Warm Homes, Greener Homes” www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/consumers/saving_energy/hem/hem.aspx. This strategy sets out the key role of local government and planning in driving the development of renewable heat networks.

Moving to a low-carbon economy will now be central to planning strategies and decisions on planning applications. Planning decisions will help business and communities build a low-carbon future, not stand in their way. In building this low-carbon future, we remain committed to protecting our valued natural and historic environments. We are making no change to established green belt policy. We need to plan for unprecedented changes but we do not expect local communities to acquiesce to proposals with unacceptable impacts.

To help introduce and operate this new planning policy, I am making available a package worth £9.75 million to develop the new skills and improve capacity across the range of local authority responsibilities needed to tackle climate change. This will help strengthen the skills and knowledge needed by planners, including in planning for increased renewable energy supply and encouraging local communities to take positive action on climate change.

Planning for a Natural and Healthy Environment

The new draft Planning Policy Statement: “Planning for a Natural and Healthy Environment” streamlines and consolidates existing planning policy on biodiversity, geological conservation, landscape, agricultural land quality, heritage and undeveloped coasts, open space, and land and facilities for sport and recreation. This provides a clearer and more strategic national policy framework for the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, and the provision of sufficient areas of open space, and land and facilities for sport and recreation to meet the needs of communities. In doing so, the policy statement demonstrates our commitment to the natural environment has not changed.

In bringing together policies on the natural environment and open spaces, I am also meeting the commitment made in “World Class Places” to publish planning policy to deliver green infrastructure. Green infrastructure can provide a wide range of environmental benefits in both rural and urban areas including flood water storage, sustainable drainage, urban cooling and local access to shady outdoor space. It also provides habitats for wildlife, and through the creation and enhancement of “green corridors”, should aid the natural migration of more species responding to the changing climate.

Development and Coastal Change

The supplement to Planning Policy Statement 25: “Development and Coastal Change” provides planning policy to help communities manage and adapt to coastal change. Positive planning has an important role in helping communities to manage risk and adapt to an ever changing coastline.

To complement the strong planning policy to manage coastal flooding in Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25), the new planning policy extends the PPS25 strategic risk-based approach to manage future physical changes to the coastline. This will help communities to adapt over time to changing coastlines. This will also prevent new development from being put at risk by avoiding inappropriate development in areas that are vulnerable to coastal change and directing development away from these areas. It provides a flexible planning approach so that appropriate development that would support the economic and social viability of a community is able to go ahead, but will be safe.