Insight

Lifting the lid on climate emergencies

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Climate Emergency

Tackling climate change has risen up the political agenda thanks to the efforts of Extinction Rebellion, the legally binding net zero 2050 target and the severe flooding seen across the UK in recent months.

But with 37 local authorities in the north west having declared a climate emergency, there remains little information about what regional and local policy makers want to see from a built environment perspective.

To ‘lift the lid’ on the climate emergency, BECG commissioned a national survey of councillors, conducted by Savanta ComRes, to understand what sustainability and environmental measures within new developments are a priority for those making planning decisions.

Our national survey of councillors has shown that sustainability and environmental concerns are now the most important priority when making planning decisions, and the factor most likely to have increased in importance over the past 12 months. This now beats traffic and highway safety as the key factor in councillor’s planning decision-making.

We also asked councillors to rank eight sustainable and environmental measures typically included as part of new development.

The most important sustainability measure identified by councillors was to provide sustainable transport connections (67% ranking this in their top three sustainability measures), closely followed by efficient insulation (65%) and the use of natural lighting/heating/ventilation to minimise energy use (61%). These were overwhelmingly more important than the others canvassed, such as electric car charging points, using local materials and installing solar panels.

The report, Sustainability Secures Priority in Planning, also identifies trends relating to geography, political party and age, which include:

  • Councillors in the north rank sustainable transport, effective insulation and use of natural lighting/heating/ventilation to minimise energy use as slightly more important than those in the south.
  • Twice as many Labour councillors rate solar panels as their most important sustainability measure compared to Conservatives.
  • 44% of younger councillors (aged 18-34) value the protection of biodiversity, compared to 27% of those aged 65+.
  • Only 15% of young councillors (aged 18-34) see solar panels as important, but 29% value electric car charging points.

The results of our research show that decision-makers aren’t looking for revolutionary sustainable development solutions but they do want to see that the industry is getting the basics right.  This means putting sustainability at the heart of conversations with local communities and elected representatives; and explaining how issues such as flooding, energy generation and transport are being tackled head-on as the country looks to become zero carbon over the next thirty years.

BECG can apply our expertise to advise on effectively putting this into use to support investment in our built environment.  To find our more visit becg.com/netzero or you can download the report Sustainability Secures Priority in Planning report here

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