A coalition of environmental groups, including Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, Holmfirth Transition Town (HoTT) and Marsden & Slaithwaite Transition Towns (MaSTT), have issued a response to the Kirklees Draft Local Plan (DLP) expressing their strong concerns that the DLP fails to deliver the strong and necessary climate policies needed to meet commitments established by the UK Climate Act and recent Paris Agreement.
The ‘Sustainability Appraisal Report’ on the DLP, undertaken by independent consultants LUC, states that “An overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle traffic and commercial activity will inevitably result from the overall scale of employment and residential development proposed through the Draft Local Plan” and concludes that “the Draft Local Plan is therefore considered to have a cumulative mixed (minor positive and minor negative) effect on climate change”.
The environmental groups argue the level of climate ambition set out in the DLP is completely incompatible with the UK Government’s recent commitments in Paris at COP21 conference. The Paris Agreement of December 2015 commits the UK Government to work towards an ambitious target of 1.5 degrees. To have any chance of meeting that target, Friends of the Earth has calculated that we need to be cutting emissions by at least 80% by 2030.  The UK Government’s own advisory Committee on Climate Change recently stated that the minimum level of ambition for carbon emission cuts should be a target of at least 57% for the period 2028-2032. 
The campaign groups set out a number of improvements to the DLP which would make the type of radical carbon cuts needed possible. Suggested changes include:
- Promotion of Passivhaus ultra energy efficient construction for all the proposed 29,340 new homes within Kirklees and radical refurbishment of existing homes and buildings to eliminate fuel poverty
- The mapping out and support for potential renewable energy sites across Kirklees
- The banning of all hydrocarbon exploration and production within Kirklees, including fracking
- Development of a cycle network plan
- Greater promotion and support for sustainable transport
- Creation and protection of land designated for local food growing, such as allotments
Chayley Collis from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth stated:
“The next 10-15 years, the lifetime of the proposed Local Plan, are critical to tackling climate change. To meet the climate commitments set out in the Paris Agreement and UK Climate Act we need to be undertaking rapid and radical decarbonisation. The Local Plan, as it stands, is not going to deliver on those commitments”.
Janet Williams from HoTT said:
“We appreciate that local authority planning departments are often constrained by national Government policies, such as the Government’s stance on fracking. We would ask Kirklees to amend the DLP where it can to address the urgent climate threat. Where it can’t, we need Kirklees to highlight the difficulties of meeting climate targets within national planning constraints and to campaign for changes to the National Planning Policy Framework”.
Members of Huddersfield FoE, HoTT and MaSTT will be attending the launch of the Zero Carbon Yorkshire initiative this Saturday 27th February in Leeds which aims to create a roadmap for Yorkshire to become the UK’s first Zero Carbon region. More information: www.zerocarbonyorkshire.org