UK: Central Government Draft Planning Policy On Climate Change

Last Updated: 18 December 2006
Article by Alistair Watson and Tony Kitson

Yesterday afternoon, the Government published a consultation draft of a new Planning Policy Statement entitled Planning and Climate Change. The period for consultation responses is open until 8 March 2007. Clearly, those wishing to respond to the Government on this draft PPS have plenty of time to read the document and consider their comments, but in the meantime it is useful to note what this PPS seeks to do and what it may mean for developers and planning authorities.

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Yesterday afternoon, the Government published a consultation draft of a new Planning Policy Statement entitled Planning and Climate Change. The period for consultation responses is open until 8 March 2007. Clearly, those wishing to respond to the Government on this draft PPS have plenty of time to read the document and consider their comments, but in the meantime it is useful to note what this PPS seeks to do and what it may mean for developers and planning authorities.

Government proposes that the draft document, when it is finalised, will be an Annex to PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development which sets out the overarching planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system. The PPS on climate change will supplement PPS1. It sets out how spatial planning should contribute to reducing emissions and stabilising climate change when developing new homes, providing new jobs and infrastructure. In developing the PPS, the Government’s aim has been to focus on national policy and to provide clarity on what is required at regional and local levels, to ensure that decisions are made at the most appropriate level and in a timely fashion to deliver the action that is required.

There is one particularly important message in the opening paragraphs of the draft PPS - it does not assemble all national planning policy that is relevant or applicable to climate change and as such it needs to be read alongside the existing PPS and PPG documents. Where there is any difference in emphasis on climate change between the policies in this draft PPS and others in the national PPS/G series, Government states that this is intentional and the climate change PPS should take precedence.

Determining Planning Applications

The Government considers that in the period before a development plan is updated to reflect the policies in the PPS, planning authorities should ensure that the proposed development is consistent with the policies in this PPS and they should avoid placing requirements on applicants that are inconsistent with it. Where development proposals are inconsistent with the policies in the PPS, consideration needs to be given as to how they could be amended to make them acceptable, or, where that is not practicable, to refusing planning permission. In return, an applicant for planning permission to develop a proposal that will contribute to the delivery of the key planning objectives set out in the PPS and is consistent with the development plan should expect expeditious and sympathetic handling of the planning application.

Those key planning objectives include:

  • making a full contribution to delivering the Government’s climate change programme and energy policies;
  • in enabling the provision of new homes, jobs, services and infrastructure and shaping the places where people live and work, securing the highest viable standards of resource and energy efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions;
  • securing new development and shaping places that are resilient to the effects of climate change;
  • reflecting the development needs and interests of communities; and
  • responding to the concerns of business and encourage competitiveness and technological innovation.

In addition, information that is sought from developers should be consistent with policies in the development plan and the PPS, and be proportionate to the scale of the development and its likely impacts. Local planning authorities should not require specific and standalone ‘climate change’ assessments of new development - required information is to be made available through the Design and Access Statement or as part of any environmental impact assessment.

The Government considers that it is not necessary to use planning conditions to control those aspects of a building’s construction and fittings that will be required to be in place to meet environmental standards set through Building Regulations. Instead, the correct use of planning conditions and/or planning obligations should secure the longer-term management and maintenance of those aspects of a development required to ensure compliance with the policies in this PPS.

The Government’s View of Impacts on Stakeholders

The Government’s analysis which has been undertaken to date suggests that the principal burdens of the PPS will fall upon:

  • planning authorities;
  • developers; and
  • suppliers of renewable, low-carbon technologies to developments.

The Government considers that these stakeholders will be beneficiaries of the PPS and are capable of adapting to the additional requirements that will be imposed by the new policy document.

The Government takes the view that regional and local planning authorities will have greater clarity regarding the provision of low-carbon developments and will be able to better plan their spatial development plans, although it accepts that additional costs will be associated with implementing and monitoring the PPS. The Government considers that developers (and by that we include investors and funders) will benefit from greater policy clarity regarding the expectation for addressing climate change in land use and new development and that there will be increased scope for sustainable development and renewable, low-carbon and decentralised energy projects. However this must be weighed against the requirement for an increase in the reporting processes as part of this PPS and the increased cost of implementing renewable and low-carbon energy technology.

Part 6 of the draft PPS sets out the Consultation Questions. The closing date of the Consultation is 8 March 2007.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 14/12/2006.

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