DevComms director Charles Bushe looks at the Green Industrial Revolution (GIR)  from the property and Thames Valley perspectives.

The Government last week announced its 10-point plan for the Green Industrial Revolution which will aim to generate and support 250,000 green jobs.

Whilst this is a significant statement of intent in relation to the environment and the economy, how is this likely to affect planning and how will it be received by the Thames Valley region?

Three of the 10 points are directly relevant to planning and property. These are:

  • Accelerating the shift to zero emission vehicles – which includes rolling out the charging infrastructure to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car.
  • Green public transport, cycling and walking – including the building of thousands of miles of segregated cycle lanes and creating more low traffic neighbourhoods.
  • Greener buildings – including the implementation of the Future Homes Standard and consultation on increased standards for non-domestic buildings.

Of course, the Green Industrial Revolution comes in the wake of many local authorities across the Thames Valley having declared their own climate emergencies including Reading borough, Oxford city, South Oxfordshire district, Royal Borough and Wokingham borough, councils. Indeed, many of the points in the GIR align with aspirations already being espoused by some local authorities in the valley.

Oxford City Council has welcomed the Government’s plan. Cllr Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and zero carbon Oxford, said: “It is promising to see the Government taking action toward the legal 2050 target, however we need to see bigger investment if we want to see significant, further change.

“As the Government goes ahead with its Green Industrial Revolution plan, we hope Oxford will become home to even more green jobs.”

The Government’s 10-point plan came in the same week that Reading Borough Council welcomed news that it had been awarded full DfT funding for new cycle schemes and its announcement that new electric vehicle charging points have been installed in Reading.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s lead councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport, said: “The council’s new Local Transport Strategy 2036, which will be finalised early next year, references electric vehicles as an important component of our drive towards cutting air pollution in Reading.”

Looking ahead, the Government will be publishing a range of White Papers and strategies to help push the green revolution forward, including an Energy White Paper and a National Infrastructure Strategy.

It has, of course, already published one White Paper in respect of planning reform, which mentioned ambitious improvements in the energy efficiency standards of buildings.

We will need to see what more comes out of the proposed reforms, as good planning has a key role to play in the green revolution – but national planning reforms and the subsequent development of new Local Plans will take years to trickle through against tough targets looming in 2030.

Building regulations and energy efficiency standards will have an important role to play in the meantime.

And the developers that get ahead of the policy curve by promoting and delivering forward-thinking schemes now are likely to get a much better reception both from local authorities and national government.

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