NEW government proposals to cut greenhouse gases to zero by 2050 have “thrown a spanner in the works” of Warrington’s controversial Local Plan.
That’s the view of anti-Local Plan campaigners across the borough ahead of next Monday’s deadline for objections.
They already thought council planners had drawn up their proposals based on out-dated thinking and now believe the new Government commitment means the Local Plan has again been overtaken by events.
Outgoing prime minister Theresa May announced the 2050 target in what was widely seen as a legacy statement.
But in fact, the government’s advisory committee on climate change recommended the “net zero” target last month.
Britain is the first major nation to propose this target – and it has been widely praised by green groups.The UK already has a 2050 target – to reduce emissions by 80 per cent under the 2008 Climate Chance Act. But that will now be amended to the new, much tougher, goal.It will mean emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will have to be avoided completely or – where that is not possible – offset by planting trees or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Colin Daniels, chief executive of Warrington Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “How does that fit with the borough council’s Local Plan?
“They are going to destroy large parts of our Green Belt so where are they going to plant trees? Only a very limited number could be planted in urban areas.
“What about air quality? It will suffer from the increased number of vehicles, houses and logistics centres.
“This government announcement just cannot be ignored by the planners.”
Cllr Cliff Taylor, chairman of the South Warrington Parish Councils Local Plan Working Group, said: “The planners are years out-of-date. They have come up with a Local Plan for the late 20th century, not the early 21st century.
“They are going in absolutely the wrong direction.We have time to include this new development in our observations on the Local Plan and the borough council has still got time to change the plan.
“As things stand, the Local Plan proposals are going in precisely the wrong direction.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Marks said: “This government announcement really throws a spanner in the works. The Local Plan proposals involve loss of Green Belt, building thousands of new homes and huge logistics centres which never produce the number of jobs they promise.
“They will result in more traffic congestion, a decline in air quality and a danger to health.
“It’s time to scrap the Local Plan and go back to the drawing board.”
The government advisory committee says if other countries followed the UK, there would be a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100.
Theresa May said the UK led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was now appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.
“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. We must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.”
The Borough Council say Warrington’s Local Plan aims to deliver 18,900 new homes (945 per year) by 2037 and make 362 hectares of employment land available – while protecting and preserving the Green Belt as much as possible.
Meanwhile the Local Transport Plan (LTP4) aims to transform how people travel around Warrington and make the borough a well-connected place with high quality walking, cycling, and public transport networks.
The final decision on the Local Plan and the development it proposes will be made by the independent planning inspector, following an examination, likely to be held in early 2020.
Following feedback on the Draft LTP4, a revised final LTP4 will be put before the Council for approval either later this year, or early in 2020.
Comments on the Draft Transport Local Plan can be made at www.warrington.gov.uk/LTP4