Lobby blasts climate duty

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has slammed a Planning Bill amendment obliging national policy statements (NPSs) to consider climate change.

The government amendment is attached to a clause saying the secretary of state must contribute to achieving sustainable development.

The amendment, tabled before the bill reached report stage this week, states that the minister must also "have regard to the desirability of mitigating and adapting to climate change".

But FoE planning campaigner Hugh Ellis argued that the reference to desirability is meaningless. "All we want it to say is that the secretary of state should be obliged to mitigate climate change. The amendment is a step in the right direction but is as weak as it can be," he claimed.

The amendment would see a House of Lords committee set up to review and scrutinise NPSs. Regional spatial strategies will have to show how they mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears insisted: "With climate change now firmly implanted in the bill, it really will deliver the low-carbon economy to which we must move. We have improved the bill at each stage and listened to constructive ideas from MPs and peers."

The Lords were set to vote on the amendments after Planning went to press.

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