Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Planners: ignore climate change at your (and all of our) peril...

Members of the Tory-dominated planning committee have recently rejected proposals for a solar panel on a roof in leafy West Drive, overturning the recommendation of the expert planning officers and making a clear statement: micro-scale renewables just aren't in keeping with Brighton's built environment.

Now I'm not arguing that democratically-elected planning committee members should never overturn the officers there to advise them - sometimes, of course, they should - but the sort of thinking this decision heralds is plainly bonkers.

Of course we've got to conserve our built environment and countryside.

But surely the best chance we've got of doing that is by taking steps to limit the most devastating impacts of climate change in our communities.

And if we're going to do that, we'll have to shift the way we use and produce energy - and that means being prepared to say 'yes' to sensitive planning applications for renewable energy generation schemes - whether they're in conservation areas or not: like these solar panels, for example, or the proposed wind turbines outside council HQ King's House (rejected by the Tories earlier this year).

Frankly, it's ridiculous for the Tories to pretend they've got the answers to climate change (remember the 'Vote Blue, Go Green' slogan wheeled out before the last local elections?) while they're saying no to practical solutions here in Brighton and Hove day in day out.

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