One small step for York, one giant leap for the World | Brussels Blog

One small step for York, one giant leap for the World

posted by on 23rd Jul 2019
23rd,Jul

(On the 50th anniversary of man’s first moon landing.)

Submission to the Public Inquiry on the 2018 York Local Plan

Joking aside, I believe this submission on the York Local Plan can start something of worldwide importance. Worrying climate feedbacks are mentioned in the accompanying document The York Local Plan: Climate Change. These climate feedbacks are eating into the remaining carbon budgets. Keeping to these budgets is one of the few ways to stop climate change becoming completely out of control. These are described in a video on “cascading tipping points” in the video by Paul Beckwith [1].

The recent Working paper from the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), Zero Carbon Sooner — The case for an early zero carbon target for the UK [2], by Professor Tim Jackson adds a UK perspective. The abstract for the paper starts:

This briefing paper addresses the question of when the UK should aim for zero (or net zero) carbon emissions. Starting from the global carbon budget which would allow the world an estimated 66% chance of limiting climate warming to 1.5°C, the paper derives a carbon budget for the UK of 2.5 GtCO2.

When a remaining UK carbon budget of 2.5 GtCO2 (2,500 million tonnes of CO2) is divided amongst the 66 million population, this averages 39 tonnes CO2 per person. In terms of the composite measure for greenhouse gasses, Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e), this averages 49 tonnes CO2e per person. (In this submission I have calculated the remaining carbon budget as 64 tonnes CO2e).

As mentioned in other parts of this submission, typical lifestyles envisaged in the York Local Plan will have yearly carbon emissions in excess of 14 tonnes CO2e, exhausting the 1.5°C budget in under four years. In the current climate crisis this is clearly not acceptable. Lifestyles have to change.

York’s population is a small proportion of the UK (approximately 0.3%). The UK’s population is a small proportion of the World (approximately 0.9%). How can the York Local Plan have much effect on the life rest of the World? The answer to this is by showing that it is possible to have pleasant and affordable lives with low emissions of greenhouse gasses. The documents of this submission begin to show how this is a possibility.

The accompanying documents are:

Geoff Beacon 21st July 2019


Hyperlinks to references


[1] https://youtu.be/G25dGJ3yUYk
[2] https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/aetw/zero-carbon-sooner


Postscript: Repeat of earlier recommendations

Summary of recommendations for the York Local Plan

(From January 2019)

Previous articles in this series on the submitted York Local Plan have identified these points:

P1) The planning gain embodied in the plan is in the order of £2.5 billion. This will accrue to land owners.

P2) Over the past 20 years, the value of dwellings in York has risen by over £10 billion benefiting the affluent but increasing the housing costs of the less affluent.

P3) The plan will have the effect of driving the less affluent out of York – including native-born young people.

P4) The proposed greenbelt will preserve planning gain and high housing costs. The amenity value of the greenbelt is greatly overestimated.

P5) The plan allows developments that are extremely damaging to the climate. This is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The current plan will be open to legal challenge on these grounds.

P6) The plan should try to avoid a rapid fall in house prices, placing existing residents in negative equity. The article Planning permission is not a natural resource is a technical precursor.

The previous article Cheap housing, negative equity and crashing the banks ended:

The search is now on for policies which can provide cheap housing – lots of it – and to avoid a dramatic fall in house prices. In addition to promote lifestyles that will not ruin the climate.

Once the effects of the climate restrictions in the NPPF are accepted, there is an obvious solution: All new housing in York must be for residents without cars. (There will be a further paper which will include some possible exceptions for individuals in these developments.)

Making all new housing car-free addresses  P1 to P6 above:

P1) It allows a large expansion of the housing supply at a much cheaper cost.

P2) It does not cause a precipitous reduction in existing house prices because,
in the short term, existing dwellings with have a premium value to car
owners.

P3) It allows a large reduction in the cost of housing for the less affluent

P4) It allows for the development of ways of living that are within climate constraints.

Of course, the planned green belt should be scrapped. It ossifies a very bad plan and prevents the flexible development of York at a time when it is necessary to make large changes to the way we live.

A bad plan ossified is worse than no plan at all.

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