Our objection to the application
We are writing to object to Countryside’s Proposals for Bishop’s Stortford South, 3/18/2253/OUT, on the grounds that it is not net zero carbon and does not comply with EHDC’s District Plan nor the town’s Neighbourhood Plan in relation to climate and sustainability related issues.
Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group exists to raise awareness of climate change on a local and national level and to help local people, businesses and government to take positive action to reduce the dangers of climate change, working with other community groups where appropriate. The international consensus is that we have 12 years now until we will have gone beyond the point of being able to limit global warming to 1½o . At higher levels of warming the impacts will be significantly worse: 2 o warming would bring near 100% loss of coral reefs; double the loss of species, including double the loss of fish for sustainable fishing; a substantial reduction in crop yields in the tropics; and of course even greater increase in frequency of extreme heat events. The 12 years’ timeline is very short and means we need to quickly stop our reliance on fossil fuels for energy and heating. New developments need to be zero carbon – if they are not, they will in no time at all need to be retrofitted to change their energy consumption with all the upheaval that will entail.
So, our objection to the proposal is that it adds to our town’s carbon footprint, when we should be working to reduce it. Clearly any development of this scale and on a greenfield site will increase the town’s carbon footprint by removing green space which acts as a carbon sink and many, many, other people and groups from the town have objected to this proposed loss of green space in the Green Belt. But developments of this scale can also and should be designed to be net zero energy and carbon and that is not what Countryside have proposed. Net zero carbon is being achieved now and is not just an expensive pipe-dream – for example a 96 home development at Newport is being built to standards which will give householders zero energy bills; Norwich city council is building to PassivHaus standards; and many areas are installing heat networks supplying affordable, renewable heat instead of building in reliance on gas.
We also note that the proposal does not even comply with the District and Town Councils’ more limited aspirations. The District Council’s climate change policies as set out in the District Plan encourage the achievement of standards above and beyond the requirements of Building Regulations; promote renewable and low carbon energy where the impacts can be satisfactorily mitigated; and encourage proposals that embrace the use of renewable, zero and low-carbon technology. In the Neighbourhood Plan, the Town Council has expressed its commitment that there should be only the very best, attractive and sustainable development.
Countryside’s proposals make very limited firm commitments and show no evidence of a strategic approach to the design of the site from a climate change mitigation perspective. Our modelling shows the site as a whole could be net zero carbon and this strategic approach would recover the cost of the additional investment, with payback in 6 to 10 years. We have set out our views in detail in the attached appendix.
So, we consider Countryside’s application should be rejected on the grounds that it is not net zero carbon and does not comply with EHDC’s District Plan nor the town’s Neighbourhood Plan in relation to climate and sustainability related issues.
We very much hope that you will give careful thought to our concerns and be prepared to approve an application for this site only if it is for a net zero energy or carbon development. The examples above show that net zero energy and carbon can be achieved in a variety of different ways. The additional capital costs of installing high levels of insulation, using renewable energy through solar PV and distributed heat pay back through reduced running costs.