Climate Change

Policy POSP1: Responding to the Climate Emergency

  1. The Authority expects and requires positive action from development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change in order to enable a move to a low carbon economy and society and help biodiversity to adapt to climate change.
  2. The Authority will support proposals that help combat climate change.
  3. Contributions to climate change arising from development will be minimised by means of a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation).
  4. Proposals are required, in a manner relevant and proportionate to the type of development, to address how climate change could impact development through its lifetime (adaptation and resilience).
  5. Potential impacts will be identified and assessed by developers and measures taken, including:
    1. Reducing contributions to climate change in the first place;
    2. Using sustainable design principles that achieve energy efficiency throughout the development’s lifecycle;
    3. Maximising energy efficiency of building fabric and systems;
    4. Minimising the carbon emissions resulting from sourcing of construction materials and construction;
    5. Locating development so access to services and facilities can be made using modes other than single occupancy car use;
    6. Implementing green travel plans;
    7. Incorporating small-scale renewable energy technologies into development; and
    8. Considering the potential impacts as a result of climate change on development, the natural and historic environment and users of the development.

Reasoned Justification

Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it is a strategic priority that all development proposals address it through careful design, mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigating climate change means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to slow down the rate of global warming and achieve the national commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

To achieve the vision of net zero emissions by 2050, everyone in the Broads will need to use less energy. The way we manage our land will need to change so it absorbs more greenhouse gas. In the long-term, buildings will need to be more thermally efficient, avoid building in flood plains and design roads and transport infrastructure that is climate resilient. Not all decisions will be popular and there will be costs to achieving change.

Adapting to climate change means designing development so that it is adapted to the changing climate, in particular hotter summers, wetter winters, and increased risks of surface water and tidal flooding including prolonged periods of inundation. Climate adapted design must be achieved without resulting in increased emissions, for example from using air-conditioning to avoid overheating.

The story of the Broads is inherently linked to our changing climate. The easterly, low-lying and coastal nature of the Broads landscape makes it particularly vulnerable to the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise, including coastal and river flooding.

At the same time, our wetland landscape has been steadily sequestering carbon since the end of the last ice age, and now stores the equivalent of an estimated 50,000,000 tonnes of CO2. In context, that is more CO2 than was released by all coal-burning power plants in the UK in the last year.

We need to plan now for the changes ahead, such as wetter winters, drier and hotter summers, and more frequent extreme events like storms and heavy rainfall, to lessen negative impacts and make the best use of positive opportunities of the emerging green economy. Even if all emissions ceased today, our climate would continue to change as a result of historic emissions.

It will be vital to the long-term sustainability of the area and the health, safety and quality of life of the community, that adaptations are made, and new development is designed to deal with changes in the climate and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change and sea level rise are key challenges facing the Broads. The extent of these changes will depend on the level of society's response to the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

Key impacts of climate change in the Broads are likely to include:

  • greater demand for water resources;
  • increased risks from flooding;
  • intrusion of saline water into the freshwater system;
  • changes in the distribution of habitats and species, with some net loss of native biodiversity and increase in non-native and invasive species; and
  • a more productive wetland system, requiring more management intervention.

Innovative solutions in development and design are needed to address the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and sea level rise.

It is recognised that the specific response from individual development proposals will depend on their scale and that some issues will be less relevant, but all proposals will have a role in helping to deliver change.

Policies elsewhere in this Local Plan require that high standards of design are achieved, but it will also be necessary to incorporate high levels of resource efficiency and energy conservation in development. These will need to be compatible with design objectives and not have an adverse impact on the local landscape character or visual amenity of an area.

In principle, renewable energy will be supported, subject to there being no adverse impact on the landscape, wildlife, navigation, recreational interest or other factors considered important in the consideration of any proposals.

It is imperative that climate change contribution from transport use is adequately mitigated and managed. This will be achieved by promoting and encouraging the use of low emission and alternative fuel cars and boats, supporting the provision of electric recharging points, encouraging walking, cycling the use of public transport and sailing, promoting the port gateways at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft for boats arriving and leaving the area, and raising awareness about the impacts of climate change on the Broads.

Reasonable alternative options

No specific policy

Original policy

Sustainability appraisal summary

The following is a summary of the assessment of the policy and alternative(s).

A: Preferred Option. 5 positives. 0 negatives. 0 ?

B: No specific policy. 0 positives. 0 negatives. 5 ?

C: Original policy. 3 positives. 0 negatives. 0 ?

How has the existing policy been used since adoption in May 2019?

According to recent Annual Monitoring Reports, the policy has been used and schemes have been permitted in accordance with the policy.

Why have the alternative options been discounted?

Climate change and carbon emissions are significant current issues and so to have a strategic policy is prudent. The amended policy strengthens the existing and is therefore favoured.

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Policy PODM3: Climate change adaption and resilience checklist

Development proposals which would result in new build, replacement, change of use or an increase in floor space must demonstrate how climate change has been taken account of in the design of the scheme with the submission of a Climate Smart Checklist (see Appendix 4: Climate change adaptation and resilience checklist).

Reasoned Justification

The current projections are that by the 2050s we will start to see significant climate change (UKCIP 2009), and early adaptation planning is likely to save money and better protect property and lives in the long run.

Cutting carbon emissions remains the most cost-effective step that everyone can take, but adaptation needs to be considered alongside, but not instead of, mitigation. There is a strong case for both accelerating emissions reductions but also preparing for the impacts of a changing climate. Although individual actions need careful evaluation, many studies show that adaptation action is generally cheaper, and more effective over time than the costs incurred responding to the impacts over time. Through careful planning, adaptation actions can deliver multiple wider benefits to projects or activities such as improving health and wellbeing, property values, skills, and employment, reducing emissions and supporting biodiversity.

Climate projections for the Broads will depend on how effectively we deal with global greenhouse gas emissions. There will be some inevitable change to the climate due to the gases already in the atmosphere, but the more extreme changes should be avoided if there is prompt action to reduce emissions in the short term. In simple terms, the best current opinion[7] about likely changes that will impact on the Broads include warmer, drier summers, slightly wetter, warmer winters, and more extreme events in terms of frequency and severity. The sea level is already rising, and this is being increased by the changing climate.

The Broads is vulnerable to greater flood risk, storms, droughts, and heatwaves, all of which could affect how we use land and buildings, how we get around, the wildlife around us, and how the environment we enjoy looks and functions.

It is acknowledged that the extent to which climate change happens, and its impact on the Broads, will be affected by actions nationally and globally, and Local Plan policies cannot protect the Broads from this. They can, however, contribute to an approach that seeks to reduce climate change through positive action and to mitigate its effects.

Section 19 (1A) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to include in their Local Plans ‘policies designed to secure that the development and use of land in the local planning authority’s area contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change’.

This Local Plan includes specific policy approaches that seek to address mitigation and adaptation needs, such as through the approach to renewable energy (Policy PODM19: Renewable and low carbon energy), flood risk management (Policy PODM7: Development and flood risk), embodied carbon (Policy PODM2: Embodied Carbon), design (Policy PODM18: Energy demand and performance of new buildings (including extensions, Policy PODM52 Source of heating and Policy PODM53: Heat resilient design), and transport (Policy PODM28: Transport, highways and access).

Reasonable alternative options

No policy

Sustainability appraisal summary

The following is a summary of the assessment of the policy and alternative(s).

A: Have a policy ,2 positives. 0 negatives. 0 ? Overall, positive.

B: No policy, 0 positives. 0 negatives. 2 ?

How has the existing policy been used since adoption in May 2019?

According to recent Annual Monitoring Reports, the policy has been used, but not every scheme that needs to fill a checklist out has done.

Why have the alternative options been discounted?

It is hoped that the checklist will prompt applicants to consider how their scheme will operate and be used in a changing climate and so using the checklist is favoured.