Environmental campaigners re-write Local Plan

Campaigners have spent months during lockdown re-writing the City Council’s Local Plan, after they discovered that the draft was missing many key policies needed to address climate change. Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019 but in spite of this, the draft Local Plan that they published in March this year contains little detail on reducing Leicester’s carbon footprint. The Local Plan is the most important planning policy document for the city and will affect all planning decisions for the next 16 years.

Members of Leicester Friends of the Earth and Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire were dismayed to find so much missing from the City Council’s draft Local Plan and decided to take action. Four members took a course in planning policy run by national Friends of the Earth (conducted over Zoom) to learn more about how planning works. They then worked with other local campaigners and set themselves a timetable to read one or two chapters of the draft Local Plan each fortnight, discuss them in Zoom meetings and then write their own versions, with a strong emphasis on sustainability. They began in May and finished editing their Local Plan seven months later, in November. They will be submitting the full document, which stands at 63 pages, as their response to the City Council’s consultation.

Hannah Wakley from Leicester Friends of the Earth said:

“People tend to think that planning is boring but actually it is such an important part of responding to climate change. How and where we build has enormous implications for energy use and biodiversity. Re-writing the Local Plan has been a massive project for us. We wanted to show the City Council what a really sustainable Local Plan could look like. It needs to include policies to improve energy efficiency of buildings, increase renewable energy generation, make it easier to walk, cycle and take the bus, protect green spaces and create more habitat for wildlife within the city.

We hope that the City Council will be able to take inspiration from our version of the Local Plan.”

To mark the launch of their Local Plan and to demonstrate that they are asking the City Council to make Leicester a model of sustainability, the campaigners created a cardboard model of a sustainable Leicester. It shows houses, shops and public buildings with solar panels on their roofs. There are also green spaces, street trees and community gardens.

Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire are encouraging as many people as possible to submit their own response to the consultation. They have prepared 12 key points that people might want to mention; these are published on their website along with a 40-minute talk that anyone can watch and even a song about the Local Plan!

Notes:

Contact Hannah Wakley – 0116 429 9046

Leicester Friends of the Earth’s full response to the Local Plan is available on their blog: https://leicesterfriendsoftheearth.blogspot.com/

Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire’s website encourages everyone to respond to the Local Plan consultation and contains guidance on how to do so: http://www.climateactionleicesterandleicestershire.org.uk/