(Photo credit: Gordon Cragg (cropped by TWLD) Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0)
Telford and Wrekin’s Liberal Democrat councillors have criticised the Labour administration’s draft Local Plan for “paying lip service” to climate change and infrastructure needs.
Whilst climate change has been added as a strategic priority within the draft plan, Lib Dem councillors have highlighted lack of consideration of sustainable transport in the selection of new sites, as well as lack of ambition on renewable energy.
“Many of the major new sites are in locations without easy access to a railway station and where existing roads are already at capacity such as Admaston, Shawbirch and around Muxton and Newport,” Cllr Bill Tomlinson highlighted. “Bus services are also inadequate in all of these areas. Many new residents will have little choice but to commute by car on already clogged up roads, increasing our borough’s carbon emissions.”
The Lib Dem opposition are calling for changes to the local planning framework to ensure that sustainable transport is integral to the selection of new sites for development, alongside stronger integration of on-site renewable energy.
“Residents will be looking for assurances that new housing will not further increase congestion on local roads, along with the associated air pollution,” said Cllr Kim Tonks. “Paying lip service is not enough. The council needs to select sites with better transport infrastructure or radically improve infrastructure at the selected sites before new houses are built.”
Liberal Democrats have placed emphasis on transport infrastructure including bus routes and better joined up cycle routes, alongside other services such as local schools and GP surgeries to serve a growing population.
In relation to renewables, Lib Dem councillors are calling for the Labour administration to look to the approach taken by Bath and North East Somerset Council, which has successfully implemented a framework to require sufficient on-site renewable energy generation to meet the consumption of new buildings.
“Lib Dem-run Bath has shown what is possible within the current planning rules regarding rooftop solar and renewables,” Cllr Thomas Janke emphasised. “As a borough, we need to be more ambitious in addressing climate change.”
The draft Local Plan is due to go out for consultation on 25th October.