Greater Manchester is overspending its carbon budget and Places for Everyone will make it much worse
by Mark Burton (Steady State Manchester)
and Matthew Broadbent (Save Greater Manchester Green Belt)
We are delighted to link specifically to this blog that has been created by our colleagues in Greater Manchester.
Mark and Matthew have assessed:
- the carbon budget GM’s Combined Authority commissioned from the Tyndall Centre (University of Manchester)
- the advice given by the Tyndall Centre about the pathway to reaching net zero
- the alarming lack of progress that has been reported this month
- the impact and importance of the separate category of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).
They specifically highlight that the Regional plan, known as Places for Everyone (P4E), will involve significant levels of construction on green spaces. This means that the Region’s capacity to reduce the impact of additional emissions will decrease significantly, severely affecting GM’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2038!
In looking at the scale of planned development set out in P4E, much of which will result in green belt release across the Region, Mark and Matthew emphasise the loss of carbon capturing opportunities, as well as the huge level of carbon emissions generated.
Their findings suggest it is highly likely that, on housing alone, the P4E proposals will be disastrous for the Region’s ambition to be carbon neutral. Different choices could be made to meet housing need, options that do not rely so heavily on new construction! Here in Trafford, there are also alternatives to constructing new roads across the green belt too.
It is clear from Mark and Matthew’s research, however, that the GMCA has not fully assessed the carbon implications of the P4E Plan, and they believe that the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) has not been conducted to an appropriate standard, especially given the conclusions reached by the Authorities.
The lack of information provided by the GMCA about the carbon implications of their strategic plan is astounding, particularly as there were so many P4E documents (more than 150, with 14,000 pages to review), but, as we pointed out in our own response, some of those pages include evidence that is very dated and some, like the carbon emissions data, is not provided at all.
Mark and Matthew actually found that other Authorities do provide the data required to robustly assess the carbon emissions. Their example from the Cambridge Local Plan is enlightening.
We totally agree that one of the most shocking omissions from the SEA is the absence of GM’s key objective, the 2038 target for carbon neutrality. It must be remembered that it is this P4E strategic plan that must secure that target!
If you are interested in finding out more about the Tyndall Centre’s view of Trafford’s carbon emissions targets, you can find an interesting summary here. You will note that the final paragraph states “We also recommend that the LULUCF sector should be managed to ensure CO2 sequestration where possible. The management of LULUCF could also include action to increase wider social and environmental benefits“. Constructing roads, housing and employment space on a peat moss, grade 2 agricultural land, wetland and woodland will not support the achievement of that recommendation!