Robert Davis: Local Plans, nationally
22 October 2020
The decarbonisation challenge is of course a global one. We look to our global politicians to set the big objectives and they have done so, if not with full consensus on many of the key targets. But if we take 2050 as the target for full decarbonisation in the UK, it falls to our national leaders to pull the big policy levers and stimulate the market. There isn’t a proper carbon marketplace at the moment and one needs to emerge.
In the meantime, we need to develop integrated plans for how we intend to create, distribute and use energy, urgently. For those of us working in the utility sector, we understand how long it takes to implement systemic change whilst keeping the lights on. To reach the target destination, we must start planning on a much more local basis right now. I was delighted to hear the announcement from the prime minister last week about support for offshore wind, but this is only part of the solution. Plans need to be developed locally and quickly, because every locality has a different set of challenges to fully decarbonise…different housing mixes / densities / types; different land use profiles; different transport arrangements; different concentrations of commercial and industrial activity; different natural resources; different politics.
My call out is for local and national leaders to actively pursue the development of Local Net Zero Plans, nationally. Every square foot of the country should fall within a local net zero plan, which shows how that locality achieves net zero status by 2050 or before. Funds should be directed from national governments now to LEPs or local authorities to deliver these plans within a couple of years. Whilst this might attract a £50M+ price tag, the savings generated through avoidance of disparate local action or ill placed national schemes will be huge. They will provide a focus for investment and a sense of direction and purpose for local communities.
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