Preferred Options

Ended on the 3rd August 2012
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(10) 12. Climate Change


12.1. Climate change is widely regarded as one of the major challenges facing our communities, likely to affect people’s lives, homes and businesses in the future. There is concern at all levels to address the causes of climate change through reducing carbon emissions, making more efficient use of resources as well as adapting the design of new buildings and infrastructure to be resilient to the potential impacts.

12.2. In Warwick District, per capita carbon dioxide emissions are slightly higher than the UK average but have seen a 17% reduction in the last five years compared with a UK reduction of 16%2. Transport is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions within the district and within this sector road transport is responsible for 98% of emissions.

12.3. The Council is committed to carbon reduction and how to address this not only within its own buildings but also within the district over the next 15 years. As part of this it is important to locate new development to reduce the need to travel and construct sustainable buildings which incorporate energy efficient layout and design, utilise renewable and low carbon resources and water conservation measures.

12.4. In terms of the potential impacts of climate change it is anticipated that the future climate in Warwick District will be characterised by:

  • Warmer, wetter winters with average temperatures 1.3 higher by the 2020s and 2.1 higher by 2050s with 5% more rain
  • Hotter drier summers with average temperatures 1.5 higher by the 2020s and 2.6 higher by the 2050s with 7% less rain
  • More frequent extreme weather events3

(1) Relevant Issue & Strategic Objectives

Key Issues

12.5. The key issue for the new Local Plan is how it can shape and co-ordinate future development and investment within the district to help address the following issues:

  • Increasing the use of renewable and low carbon sources of energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, particularly in relation to the issue of peak oil and gas;
  • Ensuring new development is designed and built to a high standard of energy efficiency to reduce the overall demand for energy;
  • To contribute towards meeting Government targets for achieving zero carbon buildings and reducing carbon emissions;
  • To design buildings and spaces which are able to adapt to the projected impacts of climate change; and,

12.6. To ensure renewable and low carbon technologies and energy efficiency measures are implemented sensitively within the historic environment and particularly for listed buildings.

Strategic Objectives

12.7. See objectives 5 and 6 as set out in paragraphs 4.13 to 4.15 above

12.8. The related aim in the Sustainable Community Strategy is to ensure that our community has actively minimised environmental impacts.

(49) PO12: Climate Change

  • The Preferred option is to develop a policy framework to support the reduction of carbon emissions within the District and ensure that buildings are resilient to the potential impacts of Climate Change in the following ways:
(8) Preferred Option: Achieving Sustainable Buildings
  • To support opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in the existing building stock.
  • To adopt a requirement that seeks a 20% reduction in carbon emissions from development to include a contribution from renewable and low carbon technologies. It is proposed that this requirement would be applied to residential developments of 1 dwelling or over and non residential developments of 100sqm or over.
  • In terms of achieving sustainable construction, to require new residential development to meet standards set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes and non residential developments to meet BREEAM standards.
(4) Preferred Option: Planning for Renewable energy and Low Carbon Generation
  • To develop a policy framework to support proposals for the development of appropriate low carbon and renewable energy infrastructure. To ensure that opportunities for large scale renewables and district heating are considered as part of the master planning of strategic sites.
(2) Preferred Option: Climate Change Adaptation
  • To include a policy on Climate Change Adaptation to require that new development is designed to be resilient to and adapt to the future impacts of Climate Change.

(1) Justification for Preferred Option

12.9. The Government has set out a framework for enabling local authorities to require a proportion of energy to be sought from renewable or low carbon sources. It has set out a timetable for achieving zero carbon homes by 2016 through the progressive tightening of building regulations.

12.10. National targets have been set in relation to climate change which will need to be taken into account in planning for future growth:

12.11. To ensure that 15% of total energy is provided through renewable sources by 2020 (Compared with under 2% in 2009), and

12.12. To cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels

12.13. At 2010 a 25% reduction in CO2 levels against 1990 levels had been delivered and it is anticipated that, to reach an 80% reduction by 2050, a further 25% reduction is required by 20274. This suggests that action is needed at the local level to contribute towards the delivery of these targets.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

12.14. The NPPF is clear that planning has a key role in reducing green house gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change and supporting the delivery of low carbon and renewable energy. To do this local planning authorities should:

  • adopt proactive strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • plan new development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid increased vulnerability to impacts arising from climate change.
  • actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings
  • set local requirements for a buildings sustainability consistent with the government’s zero carbon buildings policy

12.15. In assessing planning applications local planning should expect new development to:

  • comply with adopted local requirements for decentralised energy supply unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant that this is not feasible or viable.
  • be designed to minimise energy consumption

12.16. Local authorities should promote and increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy by:

  • designing policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development whilst ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed
  • potentially identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon technologies
  • support community led initiatives
  • identifying opportunities where development can draw energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon supply systems

12.17. The NPPF is clear that applicants should not be required to justify the overall need for renewable or low carbon energy proposals and that local authorities should recognise that even small scale projects contribute towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions

12.18. In developing the Preferred Option the following evidence has been taken into account to consider the capacity for renewable energy and carbon reduction in the district.

  • Warwick District Climate Change Adaptation Study (2011)
  • Warwick District Low Carbon Action Plan (2012)
  • Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Resource Assessment and Feasibility Study (2010)

Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Resource Assessment and Feasibility Study (2010)

12.19. The potential viability and feasibility of renewable and low carbon options within the District was identified as:

  • The potential for standalone wind turbines within the district is limited due to the existence of a wide range of constraints
  • The use of biomass heat and power within the district may be possible on a small scale providing that a local supply chain can be established
  • There is potential for communal systems within large new build settlements (such as urban extensions over 1,000 dwellings) and, with the opportunity to exploit Government incentives, it is considered that this size of development has the potential to reach zero carbon by 2013
  • There is a case for exceeding the current timetable for tightening building regulations in smaller developments (such as urban infill) by requiring 20% of the energy demand to be met through renewable and low carbon options. This was on the basis that Government initiatives to support low carbon development (Feed in Tariffs and the Renewable Heat Incentive) are exploited
  • That larger developments should require 20% renewable energy in the period 2010 – 2013, however, after this time buildings regulations will have caught up requiring residential development to meet Code Level 4
  • There is potential for the creation of a Carbon Investment Fund to collect financial contributions where the requirement cannot be met on site and used to support the delivery of low carbon measures such as off site renewable energy infrastructure (such as local authority led district heating) or retrofitting energy efficiency infrastructure in existing building stock
  • In the rural area there is more potential for a shift to renewable and low carbon sources of energy as more properties are ‘off gas’ because it is uneconomical to invest in gas grid connections

(1) Warwick District Low Carbon Action Plan (2012)

12.20. The Council’s Low Carbon Action Plan (2012) has identified opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in Warwick District by 12% (128,000 tCO2 per year) over the next 15 years towards meeting the national target of reducing 2009 levels by 25% by 2027.

12.21. To deliver this, a series of schemes and initiatives have been identified in three broad areas: energy efficiency projects in buildings, use of low and zero carbon technologies for generating energy locally and transport. It is recommended that the Council set up a Low Carbon Task Force to take responsibility for the delivery of these projects. The Council is currently considering how to take forward the recommendations of the report.

12.22. Overall analysis of current and projected energy use in the District shows that the biggest opportunity and need is to address energy use in existing buildings. Existing private sector housing is responsible for around 91% of total emissions within the domestic buildings sector.

12.23. However, new development will increase consumption and it is anticipated that the Council’s preferred growth option will result in an increase in district wide carbon emissions of between 1 and 4% over the next 15 years. National requirements for the construction of new buildings through building regulations mean that the scope to improve on this at the local level over the long term may be limited.

12.24. The application of an onsite renewables target is still thought to have merit in reducing emissions. However, it is considered that for smaller projects the costs of compliance and managing the policy may outweigh the benefits. It is suggested the Council may wish to consider applying a higher threshold and being more flexible by allowing carbon reduction targets to be met either through onsite renewables or achieving passivhaus standards.5

Climate Change Adaptation Study 2011

12.25. At the local level it is important that a policy framework is in place to ensure that new developments and buildings are designed to be resilient to and minimise the future impacts of climate change such as heat and water stress, increased risk of subsidence during hot long summers and risks of flooding, wind and extreme weather events. Opportunities should also be taken to minimise the risk and vulnerability of existing buildings to adapt to potential impacts

12.26. Potential adaptation measures include:

  • Ensuring that the design, layout and orientation of buildings maximises opportunities for natural ventilation and cooling (i.e. windows, use of building materials)
  • The use of greenspace and vegetation, (such as street trees) to provide summer shading and allowing winter solar gain.
  • The use of open water features to promote cooling
  • Maximising opportunities for water cooling
  • Locating development outside flood risk areas
  • Ensuring flood resistance and resilience (i.e. Sustainable urban drainage)
  • Ensuring infrastructure resilience (i.e. impact of flooding on underground cabling and pipes)
  • Minimising water stress (greywater recycling)

Explanation and Other Options

(1) Reducing carbon emissions

12.27. It is acknowledged that a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions will be made through improvements to the existing building stock. There is clear evidence in the Low Carbon Action Plan to support the advantages of doing this at the local level. There may be potential to extend technologies implemented as part of new development, such as district heating systems, to meet the energy needs of existing buildings. There may also be options to fund retrofitting of energy efficiency measures through new development. Further consideration of how this could be delivered will be undertaken in developing the Draft Local Plan.

(1) Achieving Sustainable Buildings

12.28. In setting requirements for achieving sustainable buildings the following options have been considered:

12.29. Energy or carbon emissions: The options are whether the requirement should relate to energy as in the current local plan policy or carbon emissions. A requirement based on carbon emissions is considered to have the potential to make a greater contribution towards tackling climate change. It is in line with the delivery of national climate change targets and objectives for meeting zero carbon buildings. It would also contribute towards the delivery of the District Council’s objectives for reducing carbon emissions as considered in the Low Carbon Action Plan. Responses to the previous Core Strategy Preferred Options consultation indicated support for carbon reduction targets.

12.30. In framing the policy in terms of carbon reduction it is appropriate to acknowledge the contribution of energy efficiency measures in reducing carbon emissions and meeting the requirement. It is considered that this will represent a strengthening of the current policy framework and result in the development of more sustainable buildings.

12.31. The development of renewable and low carbon sources of energy is supported through the NPPF and is an objective the Council supports locally. It is therefore appropriate that the requirement should be met at least in part through the use of renewable and low carbon technologies. However, the proportion to be met through these technologies is not specified to allow flexibility in terms of the viability and feasibility of individual developments.

12.32. Target and threshold: Options exist in terms of the level at which the target should be set. It is considered reasonable to set the target at 20% as energy efficiency measures will be taken into account and there is evidence to suggest this could make a positive contribution to reducing carbon until zero carbon standards are achieved. A lower target would have the potential to result in fewer decentralised renewable and low carbon technologies being installed. This would be inconsistent with both national and local aims in relation to climate change.

12.33. The current policy framework applies to all development including extensions unless it can be demonstrated it would not be appropriate to apply the requirement. Interpreting this has been difficult in certain cases, therefore, it is considered that setting a threshold would provide more clarity to applicants and ensure consistency. Therefore, it is proposed to set a threshold of 1 dwelling or 100 sqm. It is considered that the viability of requiring decentralised energy production on developments smaller than this, such as extensions, may outweigh the benefits in terms of sustainability.

12.34. The Council could set a higher threshold which only requires larger housing developments to meet the target as suggested in the Low Carbon Action Plan. However, this would not be in line with the current policy framework which has successfully been implemented. In addition, in this district a high proportion of windfall developments are conversions under ten dwellings which would mean the requirement would not apply and opportunities for reducing carbon emissions would be missed.

12.35. Sustainable Construction: It is important that standards are set for sustainable construction and that these are in line with the national policy requirements set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM.

12.36. Proposals for Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Installations: National policy recognises the contribution of renewable and low carbon energy generation and opportunities have been identified at the local level for reducing carbon emissions. For example there is potential to encourage the use of low carbon and renewable alternative energy sources in off gas areas in the rural areas. It is important that a policy framework is in place to consider and support these proposals coming forward.

12.37. Climate Change Adaptation: The need to mitigate and adapt to the potential impacts of climate change is set out in national policy and at the local level through the Climate Change Adaptation Study. It is, therefore, important that a policy framework is in place to support this.

2 Source: Warwick District Low Carbon Action Plan (2012)

3 Source: Climate Change Adaptation Study (2011)

4 UK Greenhouse emissions: Performance against emissions reductions targets – 2010 provisional figures (DECC July 2011)

5 Passivhaus is a performance standard for both domestic and non domestic buildings originally conceived in Germany but now used throughout the world.
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