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Lawyers write to two Suffolk councils over climate measures

PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 September 2019

Pressure continues to ramp up for councils to implement measures to tackle climate change. Picture: ELLA WILKINSON

Pressure continues to ramp up for councils to implement measures to tackle climate change. Picture: ELLA WILKINSON

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Lawyers from a climate change charity have written to two Suffolk councils warning them that their environment measures must be improved.

ClientEarth has written to Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils as part of more than 100 letters going out warning that if proper climate change plans are not introduced soon the councils risk violating their legal obligations.

The charity is writing to all authorities which are in the process of developing a local plan - a blueprint for future housing development in their areas.

It has tasked Babergh and Mid Suffolk with coming up with a detailed plan to reduce carbon emissions in just eight weeks.

ClientEarth climate lawyer Sam Hunter Jones said: "There is a collective failure by local authorities across England to plan adequately for climate change.

"Too often climate change is perceived to be just a national or international issue and therefore solely the responsibility of central government.

"Scientists warn that we have 10 years to transform our economies and avoid catastrophic climate change, but decisions that will have ramifications for decades are being made now by authorities with no idea if these decisions are consistent with national and international commitments to limit emissions."

The charity's plea is for the two authorities to demonstrate a recognition for reducing carbon in its planning policy.

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In July, Mid Suffolk declared a climate emergency with a vow to be carbon neutral by 2030, while Babergh "acknowledged" a state of climate emergency but went one step short of declaring the situation.

A spokeswoman from Babergh and Mid Suffolk said: "We are currently in the process of setting up a taskforce with our public sector partners to fulfil those ambitions.

"Our draft joint local plan sets out multiple policies aimed at protecting the environment within the districts: requiring developments to take a proactive approach towards mitigating and adapting to climate change; encouraging development that reduces waste; and proactively embracing energy systems powered by a renewable or low carbon source.

"This also builds on our existing work with the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership to reduce the environmental impacts of our services and encourage local green projects.

"We are lucky to be able to enjoy miles of rural countryside and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty within our districts and do not underestimate the importance of protecting our environment for generations to come."

Andy Mellen from the Mid Suffolk Green group said: "Greens met the planning policy team last Wednesday to ensure that climate change is given primacy as an objective of the joint local plan.

"This includes requiring a new chapter on monitoring progress against targets and across the board a greater willingness to test the boundaries of what government would permit.

"Friday this week Greens will be meeting the senior planners to ask that every opportunity is taken in negotiating with developers to get greater cuts to the carbon footprint of new homes.

"Because the Mid Suffolk cabinet have not considered the contradictions between council declaring a climate emergency and the local economic partnership putting forward an outdated high carbon industrial strategy, Greens are leading a call in to scrutiny committee for cabinet reconsideration."

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