Stronger carbon targets will help reduce the challenges facing wildlife, photo Vaughn Matthews

Council must seize opportunities for the environment


Friday 06 March, 2020


Norfolk Wildlife Trust will ask the Greater Norwich planning team to follow the lead of other Councils and set stronger environmental targets in its Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP). 

The local plan, which is produced in partnership between Norwich City, Broadland and South Norfolk Councils, sets out policies for the city’s growth for the next 15 years and is currently in consultation until Monday 16 March. 

When commenting on local plan consultations, NWT’s focus is primarily on safeguarding wildlife sites. However with the additional pressures on wildlife from the effects of climate change, the Trust recognises the need to support strong climate policies to protect the future of Norfolk’s wildlife. 

As such, NWT will ask the Council to set a zero carbon target for new housing, following the standard recently set by Reading Borough Council [1]. 

It will also recommend the addition of an Urban Green Factor policy [2], setting minimum standards for greening of all new urban development. Southampton City Council have an adopted policy already on this, and a similar policy is in the draft London plan being produced by the Mayor’s Office [3].

Conservation Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Mike Jones said:
“The City Council has recently declared a climate emergency and the aspirations set out in the Norwich 2040 Vision are for the city to lead on change and be ‘a shining example for medium-sized cities across the globe’. Norfolk Wildlife Trust believes there is an opportunity for the local plan to be an exemplar in delivering nature-based solutions for the wildlife and climate emergencies that we face. 

“Whilst we support the progress made with energy efficiency and renewables targets in the draft plan [4], we have seen inspirational examples set in local plans made by other UK cities that show the true potential the GNLP could have for wildlife and the climate. 

Stronger carbon targets will help reduce the challenges our wildlife will face attempting to adapt to the changing climate, whilst nature-based features in new buildings can help increase urban resilience to climate change as well as providing vital space for wildlife. We strongly recommend that this opportunity is taken to make a visionary plan that stands up to the wildlife and climate emergencies that we face and call on the public to support our recommendations.”
 

Have your say on the Greater Norwich Local Plan

 

Read more about the Greater Norwich Local Plan and what Norfolk Wildlife Trust will be asking for in our planning section of the website. 

References

1.    Reading Borough Council zero carbon policy
Reading City Council have recently adopted a zero carbon target for all new major housing proposal, in policy H5 of their adopted plan, requiring all major new-build development to be designed to achieve zero carbon homes.    
     
2.    Benefits of Urban Greening
In addition to providing vital space for declining wildlife in our urban environment, increasing green space in urban areas provides a wide range of benefits, including sustainable drainage (reducing floodwater run-off through wildlife-rich drainage features) and reducing the urban heat island effect. See this research report on Urban Greening for the Greater London Authority for further details.   

3.    Urban Greening Policy Examples
Similar policies already exist worldwide, including Berlin, Helsinki, Washington DC and Seattle. In the UK Southampton City Centre Action Plan (Policy AP12) requires new development to meet targets for inclusion of features such as green roofs, walls and wildlife-rich drainage features, to meet a minimum threshold set in their Green Space Factor to ensures that there is a positive gain in green space from new development. The London Plan, currently in production, also includes a similar draft policy, (Policy G5, Urban Greening). 

4.    Climate targets in local plans
The draft plan recognises the role that local plans can play in helping deliver sustainable development that helps meet national climate targets. Recognising the benefits this will deliver for Norfolk’s wildlife in the future, NWT now includes recommendations for greater energy efficiency and renewable energy provision in local plans, in line with recommendations made by the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town & Country Planning Association. Whilst the draft Greater Norwich plan proposes to increase the standards of new building which will be beneficial compared to current standards, NWT has become aware of the example recently set by Reading City Council, which demonstrates that the policy can go further and make a greater contribution to the challenges Norfolk’s wildlife will face in the future from climate change. 

5.   Climate Change Impacts on Norfolk’s Wildlife
A 2017 research paper reviewed the potential impacts of the changing climate on a selection of Norfolk’s wildlife. Significant impacts are predicted on a wide range of species, even if warming is limited to 2 degrees C. Species at risk include both iconic rare species such as water voles and swallowtail butterflies, as well as widespread species such as frogs and newts and winter migrants such as pink-footed geese.
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