On 18th April 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in committee. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke in support of amendments to the bill that would ensure planning decisions by local authorities and other conducive to reducing carbon emissions:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, I speak in general support of this group of amendments. I agree with those who have said that they are both crucial and urgent. Specifically, I speak in support of Amendment 309 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. I will take a leaf out of the book of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in that, despite the points I will make having been made, I will barrel on regardless. I will not, necessarily, reflect on what my dying words might be.
The Government have set bold and ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, and no one doubts the need for action to address those and to address the climate crisis. The Church of England has identified 2030 as the target for net-zero carbon for all its church buildings—its churches, parsonages and church halls. That is a huge undertaking, and it is in the specificity that we are discovering that we need to be really careful and clear about what we mean by it at the most detailed level. This is why I am supporting the level of detail that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, is asking for. The planning system is at the centre of many decisions that are crucial not only to how we reduce carbon emissions but to how we adapt to the climate crisis. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that planning decisions are, in detail, consistent with the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change—just as this amendment proposes.
Notwithstanding the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, I believe that the extent proposed by this amendment is necessary. I would be grateful if the
Minister would indicate if she would be prepared either to meet those of us from this Committee who want to prioritise climate change concerns in this area or to bring forward proposals to achieve the same ends intended by this amendment in particular but by the group of amendments in general on Report.
Extracts from the speeches that followed:
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con): I want to reassure noble Lords that the Government recognise that the planning system must address the challenges of climate change. Through the Climate Change Act 2008, the Government have committed to reduce net emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050. The right reverend Prelate outlined the Church’s ambition to achieve net zero in its buildings by 2030. I applaud those ambitions and would certainly welcome a meeting between Ministers and his group.
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