How PINS Reminded Councils of their Climate Change Duties

Published November 7th, 2017

Local plan-makers face increased pressure to consider global warming following a change in the Inspectorate’s documentation.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) is to include a specific reference to local authorities’ duties to tackle climate change in the template used by inspectors to write local plan reports. The change follows a complaint made by campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) that inspectors’ reports did not specifically mention whether they had considered if a local plan includes policies to ensure that development and land use in their area contributed to mitigating or adapting to climate change.

Local authorities have a duty to include climate change policies in their plans under Section 19(1A) of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. FoE wrote to PINS stating that recent inspectors’ reports on local plans by Cheshire East Council and Swale Borough Council did not make any specific mention of section 19(1A), or climate change. The organisation considered that this could theoretically be grounds for a judicial review of a local plan.

In response, a group manager of local plans at PINS, stated that the courts had supported its procedure on local plan reporting and had made clear that an inspector was not required to spell out why a plan was not unsound in the light of every objector’s argument. However, other duties on local authorities were specifically mentioned in the inspectors’ report template and therefore in response, PINS will proceed to amend the report template to include a specific reference to s19 (1A) as a reminder to ensure that it has been considered and a reference included in the final report as appropriate.