A senior councillor and planning committee chairman has warned against climate emergencies being used for “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” opposition to housing.
Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for place at South Holland District Council, tweeted in response to the news more than half of councils had now declared a “climate emergency”.
“Too many of them are using it as a smoke screen to revisit their local plans, or to resist housing applications – it’s a form NIMBYism,” he wrote.
Your authority on UK local government – Over half of councils declare ‘climate emergency’ https://t.co/2LdGhT8KY2. Too many of them are using it as a smoke screen to revisit their Local Plans, or to resist housing applications – it’s a form NIMBYism.
— Roger Gambba-Jones (@Gambba_Jones) July 31, 2019
Speaking to Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines, Councillor Gambba-Jones said his comments follow a rise in Green Party members elsewhere in the country taking advantage of election successes to denounce greenbelt housing for consuming resources and worsening the emergency.
In some areas, councils have been asked to scrap or freeze their local plans.
Councillor Gambba-Jones said there was nothing wrong with the principle of climate emergencies, but said authorities should look at the bigger picture.
“If they delay the delivery of housing they’re damaging the prospects of their young families because that’s what the drive for housing comes from,” he said.
He added: “It’s a great disappointment because it’s difficult enough to convince the public that housing is a necessity anyway, particularly those areas where house prices are through the roof.”
He called for balance, particularly in rural areas such as South Holland where public transport is limited, making it difficult to stop people using their cars.
If they were looking at the global picture, it should be a given that the two should work together
“Yes look after the environment, but also look after housing.”
In Lincolnshire, the City Council and North Kesteven District Council have both declared climate emergencies, while Lincolnshire County Council refused to do so. Boston Borough Council has set up a working group to investigate the issue.
South Holland District Council has not formally discussed declaring a climate emergency, however, a spokesman said it had undertaken a number of initiatives including:
- Electric car charging points being installed in council car parks
- Promoting the reduction of emissions in developments, encouraging cycling, walking and public transport and developing renewable energy in the recently adopted South East Lincolnshire Local Plan.
- Retrofitting council properties with insulation
- Creating new woodland and open space
- Installing solar panels on its Priory Road offices
- They added existing developments were providing 50,000 homes with renewable energy in South East Lincolnshire
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