The Daily Telegraph

Rural street lighting ‘not always necessary’

Climate change adviser suggests people moving to the countrysid­e should be encouraged to use torches

- By Emma Gatten environmen­t editor

URBAN dwellers who move to the countrysid­e should expect to use torches, not street lights, the Government’s climate change adviser has said.

“The pressures to urbanise the countrysid­e are largely antagonist­ic to dealing with climate change,” Lord Deben, the chairman of the Government’s climate change committee (CCC), told the parliament­ary housing, communitie­s and local government committee.

He said street lighting was not always “necessary” and that rural authoritie­s should resist its installati­on.

“When people move into the countrysid­e you just have to say to them that this is not the town and you don’t have street lighting in the village, you have a torch, that’s how you do it,” he said. The village of Theydon Bois on the edge of Epping Forest is among those that have long resisted the pressure to introduce new street lights, despite calls from more urban residents in the greater borough.

The CCC has been critical of the planning department for failing to take into account environmen­tal concerns and the need to reach net zero by 2050 in its decision making.

Lord Deben told MPS that local authoritie­s should not allow new homes to be built in villages where residents already have to commute by car, and criticised the use of SUVS in places where they were “unnecessar­y” and called for them to face higher taxes.

“It seems nonsense to allow large building of 300 houses in a village where already 98 per cent of the population are commuting at least 12 miles by car,” he said.

“But you could build in the centre of cities or towns or near enough to a railway station so that you could walk. I know that is unpopular to the people that live in that town, but at the moment there seems to be an attitude of spreading the pain.”

The Government has come under pressure over its proposed planning reforms, which critics have said will make it easier to build in greenbelt areas and lead to the “suburbanis­ation” of the countrysid­e.

Lord Deben also criticised a lack of explicit climate change commitment­s in planning regulation­s, which he said made it difficult for local authoritie­s to make decisions that took the environmen­t into account. He highlighte­d the initial decision by Cumbria county council to greenlight the UK’S first deep coal mine in 30 years, which the CCC has repeatedly criticised.

“It’s not fair to put the local authority into a position where it doesn’t have the statutory backing with a proper planning bill which covers that and the informatio­nal backing,” he said. “We need a planning act which fully represents the facts that we are signed up to net zero internatio­nally and nationally, otherwise we’re not going to do it.”

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