Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan consultation on submitted Neighbourhood Plan

Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan

10 Climate emergency

Primary Objective
Respond to climate change and move towards a carbon neutral neighbourhood.

10.1 Local Action
This Chapter was informed by a consultancy report commissioned from the Centre for Sustainable Energy. CSE ran two workshops and provided a report which suggested an Energy Plan together with a range of initiatives which might be taken locally.

Both parish councils (as well as North Somerset Council) have declared a Climate Emergency, recognising that action at local as well as national and international levels will be needed if proper protection of the natural environment is to be successful.

To give substance to these declarations, Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council has set up an Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group. The Group includes councillors (from both parishes) and interested members of the community, and has established sub-groups to address renewable energy, carbon capture and biodiversity, food, and transport. These groups have begun work – projects involving community led tree planting and solar pv installations, for example – and further actions enabling more changes are planned.

The Neighbourhood Plan, and its three key principles – the need to protect the past, to address the future, and to react to the immediate present – reflect the urgency of a response to Climate Change. The Plan contains some policies which are being brought forward at once, but there are others which will only evolve over time.

Sustainability – of past, present and future assets - is a core theme of the Neighbourhood Plan and, across the whole of the Plan, policies – for housing, transport, environment, heritage and community – have been framed in way which ensures that they will contribute positively to combating climate change and its effects – notably reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and/or the enhancement of local biodiversity. Many of these echo the most recent North Somerset Strategy on Climate Emergency (42) and we welcome, and will seek to apply locally, the aspirations therein.

42 North Somerset Council. Climate Emergency Strategy and Action Plan 2019

10.2 Renewable energy
Practical means to install sources of renewable energy will be investigated and, as far as possible, carried out. These may include ground-mounted solar arrays, especially on brownfield or industrial land and/or installation of renewable heat systems, such as air-source heat-pumps. The latter may be of particular interest in conjunction with solar pv systems.

There may also be potential for the establishment of wind turbines at appropriate locations. The Neighbourhood Plan Area offers locations which might be appropriate (43) (Royal Portbury Dock or the Avon longshore). Any such development needs to be considered in the context of the forthcoming Local Plan 2038. Approaches to encouraging renewable energy might also include the involvement of a community energy society or bulk purchase schemes to enable householders to access photovoltaic systems cheaply.(44)

Encouragement and advice should be provided to householders, community organisations and the owners of business premises to improve the energy efficiency of their properties – the Solar Street scheme being a good example. New build properties should be required to be built to high standards of energy efficiency and, with only 43% of homes well insulated in North Somerset,(45) advice and encouragement will be given to householders at all income levels.

(43) See Regen SW. 2014. Resource assessment for wind and solar in North Somerset
(44) See also para 10.6 below
(45) Friends of the Earth

10.3 Carbon Capture and Biodiversity
Increasing the level of tree cover and biodiversity within the Neighbourhood Plan area will be encouraged through tree-planting schemes. New woodland or orchards and planting in private gardens and public open spaces are encouraged. These will reflect the latest information about appropriate species, planting densities and best practice in the care and protection of new trees.

Other approaches to biodiversity should include allowing suitable areas of land to regenerate naturally together with better management of roadside verges and other public land to encourage wildflower growth. The example set by the St. George’s Flower bank and the Abbots Leigh Verges Group provide good examples. Encouragement and advice should be given to private landowners (including householders and organisations such as churches, schools, community buildings) to encourage both rewilding and creation of wildflower meadows and provision of suitable habitat to encourage wildlife.

10.5 Transport
In addition to encouragement of the use of public transport and Active Travel (walking and cycling), the Plan recognises the growing importance of the adoption of electric vehicles (see also Chapter 6). Practical measures could include encouragement of the formation of car sharing clubs, provision of community transport, improvements to the availability, reliability, frequency and cost of public transport, and improvement of facilities for walking and cycling.

10.6 Pollution
Road Traffic Emissions The A369 generates the third highest level of air pollution (NOx emissions) in North Somerset and a central aim of transport policy is to bring reductions in carbon emissions from traffic making it easier for people to walk, cycle and enjoy outdoor recreation. The main pollutant measured by NSC locally is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) originating primarily from road traffic emissions. The level of air quality is the third poorest annual level in North Somerset and increases in road traffic emissions should be avoided (see also para 6.8 above).

Pollution is a major concern along the A369, but concerns were expressed in consultation that air pollution levels around the M5 and Junction 19 were severe and that monitoring should be extended to give better coverage. Traffic and transport issues are included within the possible actions being considered by the Bristol Port Company as part of an Air Quality Strategy consultation.(46) The prospect of a Port Sustainable Transport Plan, together with work towards the reduction of emissions from traffic, less-polluting means of getting to and from work, and discouragement of road based freight movements, would be beneficial to the whole Neighbourhood Area. A range of other initiatives relating to the Port Estate are welcome – energy efficiency and conservation, opportunities for renewable energy (including solar panels and wind turbines), green infrastructure, dust management – which would all contribute to a more sustainable carbon-neutral development of the port.(47) The Parish Councils’ plan to maintain contact with Bristol Port Company on air quality as well as environmental issues.

Light Pollution The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light - can be noted in the Neighbourhood Area. The north-western sky can be seen illuminated by the combined effects of the M5 motorway, the motorway services, the Avon bridge and the port complex, whilst within the Area a number of sports grounds make use of artificial light. While modern LED lamps are energy efficient, they emit light on a broad spectrum. This can disrupt the natural cycles of both wildlife and humans as well as hindering appreciation of views of the night skies. The planning system should seek to influence and control development lighting schemes in order to minimise/reduce light pollution in the neighbourhood plan area.

(46) The Bristol Port company: Air Quality Strategy, Initial public consultation, February 2020 
(47) Air quality and green infrastructure are also covered in Chapter 5 (para 6.8) and Chapter 7 (paras 7.3-7.4)

10.7 Flood Risk 
Flooding has long been not only a risk but an actuality along the River Avon, with Pill in particular subject to significant flooding. Indeed, much of the Neighbourhood Plan Area lies within flood risk zones. Climate Change will increase these risks, but flood control is not simply a Neighbourhood Area issue and extends to rivers and the coastline across North Somerset. Existing protection along the Avon may need to be reinforced from Pill down the longshore to the Estuary (including parts of Royal Portbury Dock. We welcome the joint initiative by Bristol city council and the environment agency that existing defences at Pill need to be upgraded although disappointed that such work may not required until 2065. We feel that it is essential that river and coastal flood policies and practice are reconsidered in the new North Somerset Local Plan 2038 Measures to reduce flooding risk and minimize storm run-off such as planting trees would be welcome. More locally there is potential for reducing run-off and members of the community should be encouraged to incorporate rainwater harvesting and where possible incorporate permeable surfaces for driveways and gardens.

(48) See National Planning Policy Framework Section 14, paras 155-169; also North Somerset Council Core Strategy CS 3 and Development Management Policy DM 1

Policies

Existing North Somerset Core Strategy and Development Management Policies already in place include: Addressing climate change and carbon reduction (CS 1), Delivering sustainable design (CS 2), Environmental impacts and flood risk management (CS 32), Flooding and Drainage (DM 1), Trees and Woodlands (DM 5), High Quality Design and place-making (DM 32), Local Centres (DM62).

Planning Policies

CC 1
Land allocations and management which enhance carbon capture and ecological biodiversity are welcomed.

CC 2
Proposals for the development of new housing, extensions to dwellings or business premises, will be particularly supported where they are designed to generate as much of their energy as reasonably feasible from renewable sources.

CC 3
New development should establish lighting schemes which minimize light pollution where possible.

CC 4
The establishment of local wind-turbine generation capacity should be pursued.

CC 5
Planning applications which incorporate rainwater harvesting and do not increase urban run-off are supported.

CC 6
Initiatives which would benefit from the use of land or buildings for the local production of food are welcome.

CC 7
Initiatives which would benefit from the use of land or buildings for the local production of food are welcome