Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Addressing Climate Change in South Somerset

Greenhouse Gases

12.1 The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from human activity is changing the world’s climate, and national planning policy describes climate change as the greatest long term challenge facing the world.[1] Taking action to address climate change will be much less costly than not taking action over the medium to long term.[2] This ‘action’ involves mitigation through reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and adaptation by ensuring development can cope with the predicted impacts of climate change and helping biodiversity to adapt to a changing climate.

12.2 In South Somerset, carbon dioxide emissions equate to 7.7 tonnes per person each year, which is similar to the neighbouring Districts of Sedgemoor and Mendip, and slightly less than the regional average of 8.2 tonnes per person. Industrial and commercial sources produce the highest amount of CO2 emissions (38% of total) in South Somerset, followed by domestic sources (32%) and transport (30%) with similar proportions (Figure 24 below).

Figure 24: Source of Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) in South Somerset[3]
Figure 26: Source of Carbon dioxide emissions in South Somerset

12.3 The Climate Change Act 2008 requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (upon 1990 levels) – a key element of the Core Strategy is to ensure South Somerset makes a full and appropriate response to climate change. South Somerset’s Sustainable Community Strategy sets out more ambitious targets though a “year on year reduction in the District’s carbon footprint towards a carbon neutral economy in 2030.” The Council have also recently adopted (March 2010) a ‘Carbon reduction and climate change adaptation strategy’, which focuses on mitigation and adaptation measures that can be achieved through the Council’s operations, including requiring more sustainable buildings through the spatial planning process.

12.4 The Core Strategy Vision seeks to promote greater self containment in settlements by focussing most new development at the main settlements in the District, promoting a balance of employment and housing provision, and ensuring communities have good access to shops and community services. This Vision should ensure the need to travel is reduced, especially by car, and therefore limit the growth of carbon dioxide emissions from travel.

12.5 Even if the world were to go ‘zero carbon’ straight away, there is likely to be 30 – 40 years of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions already released.[4] This makes it vitally important to ensure that new development is adapted to cope with the effects of climate change that will happen regardless of measures taken now to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

12.6 By the 2050’s, climate change in South Somerset is likely to mean more extreme weather events including:[5]

  • Summers being 2 – 3 degrees centigrade hotter, and 20 – 40% drier.
  • Winters being 10 – 20% wetter, and 2 – 3 degrees warmer.

12.7 Changes to the summer climate may have some positives in South Somerset from increased tourist numbers, which would benefit the local economy. But hotter, drier summers could also damage wildlife in the District and reduce levels of water supply. Wetter winters could cause more flooding and greater risk to property and people.

1. PPS: Planning and Climate Change, supplement to PPS1, 2007. [back]
2. Stern Review on the Economics of climate change, HM Treasury, Nov 2006. [back]
3. Local and Regional CO2 Emissions Estimates for 2005-2007, DECC, November 2009. [back]
4. Adapting to climate change: UK Climate Projections, Defra, 2009. [back]
5. Central estimate under medium emissions scenario, UK Climate Projections 2009. [back]