4.4 Policy and resources

Creating the policy and planning environment to support the infrastructure and innovation needed to tackle carbon emissions and help communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change are essential parts of our leadership role.  Where we spend our resources and how we influence our partners and suppliers is also important.

We need to ensure the homes we are planning now are fit for the future. This means that not only must carbon emissions be minimised during construction, they must be designed in ways that can protect people from the impacts of climatic changes, such as excessive heat or more frequent flooding. 

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) includes detailed policies that are used in decisions on planning applications. The adopted SWDP seeks to ensure that all new development sources at least 10% of its energy requirements from renewable or low carbon energy technologies. As part of the review of the SWDP, we are proposing that the requirement for renewable or low carbon energy be increased to at least 20% of the developments predicted energy requirements. The plan also requires all new development with over one hundred dwellings to examine the potential for a heat network.

The SWDP review provides an opportunity to create an environment to encourage low carbon and sustainable development, but there are challenges as the National Planning Policy Framework does not currently support councils to be ambitious in setting local plans that actively support the reduction of emissions.

In 2019/20, the average household in Wychavon threw nearly 470kg of waste away, over a third of this is likely to have been food waste. Just over 44% of household waste was sent  for reuse, recycling or composting. Without significant behavioural change, household waste is expected to rise by 1% a year by 2030.

Encouraging people to consume less, reuse more and recycle as much of their waste as possible is crucial to the global effort to tackle climate change.  At a local level, it is much more difficult to measure the impact of waste minimisation on carbon emissions as many of them will be generated higher up the supply chain.  However, minimising waste will have some positive impact on emissions from our waste contractor’s vehicles.

We have already:

  • Adopted a renewable and low carbon energy policy within the South Worcestershire Development Plan.
  • Adopted Supplementary Planning Documents on water management and flooding, and renewable and low carbon energy.
  • Issued a call for sites for potential large scale renewable and low carbon energy projects as part of the review of the SWDP. This resulted in over 60 submissions, which we are reviewing to consider their potential.
  • Responded to the Government’s consultation on elements of the proposed Future Homes Standard, stating our strong support for higher energy efficiency standards in new development above the current Building Regulation requirements.
  • Appointed a new urban designer to lead work on delivering well designed development.
  • Run the Wychavon Intelligently Green Awards every two years since 2014 to celebrate and promote local green projects and activities.
  • Introduced household recycling collections for batteries, textiles and small electrical items in October 2018.
  • Trialled a HERU here at the Civic Centre. The appliance can heat hot water with everything from waste nappies and plastics to coffee cups and food.
  • Introduced new recycling points for coffee pods, water filters and crisp packets.
  • Run a three-year campaign to reduce litter and single use plastics.

We will:

  • Include a climate change chapter in the SWDPR that brings together all the policies in the plan that relate to carbon reduction and new policies to promote development which seeks to minimise carbon levels.
  • Encourage low carbon development and design measures to improve resilience and adaptation to climate change.
  • Support the development of an eco-settlement in the district.
  • Ensure that all new council strategies, polices, plans and major projects encourage and incentivise carbon emission reductions wherever possible.
  • Strengthen our procurement policies to allow additional weight to be given the carbon cost in competing bids and require contractors to report on their carbon emissions.
  • Explore more sustainable options for disposing of green waste from our own activities and land.
  • Work with developers for the SWDP strategic allocations to consider how energy for the development could be provided from a decentralised source and ensure consideration for climate change adaptation is at the heart of their proposals.
  • Seek to influence the Worcestershire Pension Fund investment strategy to make impact-driven sustainable investments.
  • Review and refresh the Wychavon Intelligently Green Award scheme with greater community involvement and a focus on carbon reduction.
  • Work with one or more high schools to help them develop their own Intelligently Green Plans.
  • Run a four-year campaign to reduce litter and single use of plastics involving a package of measures including education, litter picks enforcement action and engaging with schools.
  • Reduce the average household black bin waste by at least 10% (2018/19 baseline) by 2024 through targeted waste reduction campaigns and incentivising at least five communities to set up community fridges to reduce their food waste.
  • Pilot on the go recycling facilities for plastics and cans in one or more towns.
  • Lobby the Government to require all new homes to be carbon neutral as soon as possible and to urgently update national planning policy to minimise carbon emissions.
  • Lobby our MPs and the Government on any other issues that arise over the lifetime of the plan that we see as important in realising our vision and targets