More than 6 months after Bristol Council passed a Green Party motion to declare a climate emergency, Green Councillors are now calling on the Council to recognise this in its plans for the future.
Green councillors were responding to a consultation on Bristol Council’s Local Plan – the document that sets planning policy for the Council over coming years. They argued for stronger planning rules on climate change - for example policy text making clear commitments to carbon neutrality rather than just aspiration. The Greens also raised concerns about weaker protections for public land in the new plan and called for planning policies against advertising billboards and over-concentration of student housing in small areas of the city.
Councillor Martin Fodor helped draft the plan response. He said:
“The local plan isn’t very well known about but it’s a really important document that sets the council’s policy for all planning, having a huge influence on the shape of our city – and it is generally only updated about every 10 years, so it must deal with the challenges of future rather than the problems of the past. We've recommended some big changes to the council’s draft plan: stronger protections for green spaces, policies to restrict the impact of airbnb lettings on residents, and most importantly the need for much tougher climate action. It will be interesting to see what proposed changes are taken on board.”
Leader of the green group, Councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“Last year the council passed our climate emergency motion, with all councillors including the Mayor voting for an ambitious target of Bristol going carbon neutral by 2030. Now we have to follow through by ensuring that reducing emissions is part of our internal policies and decision making across the whole of the council. We need a Green New Deal for Bristol – this could lay the groundwork, or it could be another strategy for business as usual. I hope the council makes the right decision.”
“As we’ve seen from the passion of the Youth Climate Strikes and the rapid growth of Extinction Rebellion, people are ahead of politicians on these issues. With the local plan we have an opportunity to put tough climate change action right at the heart of the council’s policy – where it has to be if we’re going to recognise the scale and importance of the climate emergency facing us.”
Examples of other changes proposed by the Green Group include:
- Refusing future applications for privately managed pseudo public space so that all areas of public space are owned and managed by the council as full public open space
- Stopping uncontrolled conversions to full time Air BnB accommodation taking homes out of use
- Greater protection for all allotments and smallholdings, which are so important to our resilience and food security
- A ban on new advertising billboards in the city
- A social value policy for all major developments