Planning in the media

Amid the acres of newsprint on Barack Obama's US election win, it is difficult to find much on what it means for the environment and climate change.

The Guardian reports that former vice-president Al Gore is pressing Obama to move to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade. "Tackling climate change is at once the simplest and most complex of the problems Obama will face," Columbia University's Philip Bobbitt noted in The Independent on Sunday. "The USA can demonstrate leadership by encouraging energy conservation, reducing oil consumption, increasing the share of electricity from renewable sources and developing low-carbon forms of energy."

Across the pond, Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates told New York Times readers: "There is an opportunity to tackle energy needs in a way that has not been possible in decades." The notion took an unexpected twist in The Observer, which reported that miniature nuclear plants capable of powering 20,000 homes could be on sale in five years. Hyperion, which is licensed to work up the idea, expects facilities working out at £250 a home to be delivered by lorry and installed underground to prevent theft.

Climate change is a full-on challenge in the Maldives, an island group that rarely rises more than 1.5m above sea level. Newly-elected president Mohamed Nasheed told The Guardian of plans to buy an entire new homeland in India, Sri Lanka or even Australia for a population of 300,000 threatened by rising sea levels. "It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome," he explained.

Nearer home, the go-ahead for Donald Trump's golf resort in Aberdeenshire went down badly with The Independent on Sunday. "Councillors you have elected throw out a scheme, whereupon a craven Scottish Executive calls it in and approves it," laments columnist DJ Taylor. "Why does central government go on sucking up to developers in this way?"

The Politics Show on BBC1 gave Alan Johnson an opportunity to talk up the Healthy Towns initiative, a key part of the drive against obesity. The health secretary praised open space planning in Dudley. "It needs everyone - the council, the planning department, the people who deal with the highways - looking to ensure that they build in the ability for people to lead healthy lives and be more active," he concluded.


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