UK's first local climate resilience planning policy set for Liverpool City Region
Plans are being put together to develop a climate resilience policy across the Liverpool City Region in what is claimed to be the first initiative of its kind in the UK.
The move will see the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) work with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) to develop a climate resilience policy that can support the 1.6 million residents across the area, driven by the concept of “climate justice”.
It will be incorporated into the LCRCA’s Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) which joins together housing, transport, green space and other planning elements across the region, to mitigate the impact of climate change and which will be legally binding.
Once published, the SDS will mean planning applications need to take climate change resilience into account, with the combined authority hoping the policy will push up standards and safeguard against flooding and extreme weather events alongside other climate threats.
Councils involved in the project include Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, who worked with the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester to identify specific issues that impacted the local authority areas.
Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said the commitment was part of his election manifesto to safeguard the future of the environment.
“We are the first city region in the country to work in this collaborative way with a national planning body on this globally significant issue. This work will help us understand how we can build climate change resilience into our future plans.” He said.
RTPI's chief executive, Victoria Hills, said the most vulnerable communities will “bear the brunt” of climate change in the coming decade – and thinking local was vital to success.
“Broad national and international climate change policies are not enough by themselves to address this; city-level plans that build communities’ resilience according to unique characteristics of places in which they live will be crucial.”
Merseyside has a history of climate action, with Liverpool City Council previously being at the forefront of innovative climate policies, including a partnership with a blockchain platform company to offset more than 110% of its carbon emissions, and aiming to become the world's first climate-positive city by the end of 2020.
The city also has a climate change strategic framework which examines how climate change affects the area, and outlines current impacts on climate and the steps taken to reduce this. It also sets out what needs to be done to measure and manage activities to meet goals.
Other city regions and nearby local authorities have also responded to climate change, including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which has pledged to ensure that all new buildings erected in the city region will be 'net-zero' carbon by 2028, and which forms a core part of its development agenda in the next twenty years.
Warrington Council announced in February that it was developing two solar farms with a combined capacity of 62MW to make it the first UK-based local authority to generate all of its own energy.
The news also follows plans by the government to develop so-called climate ‘hubs’ across UK cities to act as research areas for low carbon technologies and climate mitigation and adaptation measures, sharing best practice with each other, and creating local-level solutions that can be scaled up or replicated. The first hubs will be in Edinburgh, Leeds and Belfast.