The Daily Telegraph
Rural street lighting ‘not always necessary’
Climate change adviser suggests people moving to the countryside should be encouraged to use torches
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.”