– Irish Planning Institute (IPI) President speaks following Cabinet Agreement of Climate Action Bill
– IPI is calling for adequate resourcing for local authorities
Following the publication of the new Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill by the government, Dr Conor Norton, President, Irish Planning Institute (IPI), highlighted the need for a rapid realignment of planning legislation, policy and plans.
Speaking in response to the publication of the Climate Actions and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, Dr Norton said: “New legislation and policy for climate action will need to fully align and integrate with planning policy and plans at all levels including county development plans, local area plans and planning schemes such as strategic development zones.”
The planning profession has long warned about the problems of Ireland’s settlement strategy and the implications of rural housing for climate change, as well as the associated problems for communities, transport and place-making. Project Ireland 2040, through the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan, clearly points to the spatial planning policies required to address the challenges of climate change. Any new climate action strategy must align with the National Planning Framework and spatial plans at regional, county and local level.
In-depth review of planning policy
Dr Norton believes an in-depth review of all planning policy and national guidelines for plan-making and development management is now required so spatial plans and decisions around planning applications effectively deliver for climate action. The new Office of the Planning Regulator will have a critical role to play in the climate-proofing of the next generation of plans.
Prepare for change
Dr Norton states that professional planners need to prepare for changes in the strategic planning options that may be available to them, such as permitting development on greenfield land. Climate action means that investment priorities such as road infrastructure and rural housing policies must be reviewed.
“Planners should welcome climate action as an opportunity as well as a challenge to their work. Ultimately planning for climate action has the potential to deliver tangible positive benefits for local communities, making them more accessible, providing community infrastructure and delivering the right housing in the right area. Many of the actions needed for climate action already align with good place-making and solid urban design principles.” Dr Norton continued.
Planning system reform
The planning system and organisation of resources within it will need to reform so spatial planning delivers effectively for climate action. Informed and collaborative spatial plans will be central to this. However, current resource constraints across local authorities mean that countless small towns across Ireland currently have no statutory development plan setting out objectives for proper planning and sustainable development.
Dr Norton argues that this must change rapidly as climate action cannot be delivered on the basis of general planning policies and objectives, but rather that local climate action plans will provide real targets for statutory development plans at county and local level. “Local authorities must be adequately resourced, so their planning departments focus is on the preparation of spatial plans for Climate Action, not just decisions around individual planning applications,” he concluded.