Will GM’s planned new developments impede their carbon emissions target?

Well, the answer is ……………………

GM does not know!  Neither the GMCA nor the Local Authorities themselves have calculated the impact of the change of land use and their documents seem to be focused on how carbon neutral the construction of new buildings is!

Of course, that is important, but it is not the whole story. 

Greater Manchester’s Places for Everyone (PfE) strategy sets 2038 as GM’s target for achieving carbon neutrality, and GM Mayor, Andy Burnham, says he has ambitious plans to decarbonise, including removing 1 million tonnes of carbon over the next three years through retrofitting homes and buildings, smart energy and overhauling the public transport system. 

But, whilst the PfE plan requires new development to be net zero carbon from 2028, there appears to be no information about the carbon emissions that result from the changes to land use set out in any of the documents.  This includes the change in emissions that happens because a location that was agricultural land becomes a housing estate, for example.

With this in mind, residents from across GM joined the Friends of Carrington Moss and Steady State Manchester’s Mark Burton to find out more about how to calculate the carbon emissions that will accrue from the numerous planned new developments set out in the PfE documentation.

Mark said “this is a complex area; we should have clear information from the GMCA and the Authorities themselves but this has not been provided and responses to our Freedom of Information Act requests have not been informative”.

Mark’s presentation used the New Carrington development in Trafford as a case study.  He highlighted the characteristics of the site, the sources of data that can be used to support these assessments, and the limitations of the high level estimate he had undertaken.  For this particular site, he used data from the UK Soil Observatory and the British Geological Survey to understand the scale of the peat on Carrington Moss and to explore what may be under the surface of the land. 

Mark continued “the figures in the P4E documents had huge gaps in the emissions data that should have been considered.  The development of strategic locations should be supporting our journey to carbon neutrality, not increasing emissions or closing the door on sequestration opportunities.”

Paul Beckman, Landscape Architect, was very concerned, “Why have the GM leadership approved this plan if they do not know how it will affect the achievement of the 2038 target?  It is clear that those making the decisions do not fully understand the carbon sources and the lost opportunities for sequestration in these plans”

Attendee Lorraine Eagling from Trafford said, “Carbon emissions have a huge impact on our health and Mark’s presentation was really interesting, I’ll be requesting more data from Trafford about the carbon emissions set out in the Carrington Relief Road options report, which do not make any sense

Evelyn Frearson from Woodford Neighbourhood Forum said “Mark’s presentation has highlighted the wide range of calculations that need to be made in order to assess the total impact on carbon emissions when changes in land use are proposed”.

Mark confirmed that he has created a toolkit that can be used by others to create high level estimates of the carbon implications of new development.  This will be an invaluable tool for community groups such as ours. You can find links to the toolkit here.

For more information, Mark can be contacted here.

Steady State Manchester’s work can be found here.

You can watch a recording of the meeting here.

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