Environmental lawyers have threatened legal action against 100 local authorities across England unless they introduce new climate change plans.
The lawyers from ClientEarth have written to each local authority that is developing a new local plan warning them they could violate their legal obligations and risk legal challenge.
The letter gives each local authority eight weeks to explain how they will set evidence-based carbon reduction targets.
‘There is a collective failure by local authorities across England to plan adequately for climate change,’ said ClientEarth climate lawyer, Sam Hunter Jones. ‘Too often climate change is perceived to be just a national or international issue and therefore solely the responsibility of central government.
‘Clearly central government needs to do more, as the recent Committee on Climate Change progress reports stress. Yet so many of the daily decisions around new and existing infrastructure – such as new buildings, roads and utilities – are made at the local level. All of these decisions will ‘lock in’ an area’s future emissions and its resilience to climate change.’
Lawyers said that for carbon targets to be meaningful, they need to be incorporated into local planning policy as a core objective against which all other policies and decisions will be tested.
The Local Government Association said councils could do more to protect the environment if policies such as permitted development rights were scrapped.