The Blueprint Coalition, an influential group of local government, environmental and research organisations, has responded to the Skidmore review.
The Coalition has welcomed Chris Skidmore MP’s comprehensive review in the ‘Mission Zero’- The Net Zero Review, which recognises the important role of local climate action, and correctly diagnoses the multitude of barriers holding back local net zero ambition.
However, as highlighted in the Blueprint Progress Tracker published late last year, councils have been waiting too long for the detail behind the strategies, including guidance and consultation responses across policy areas such as local transport planning, private rented sector energy standards, and Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
The Coalition has long called for the climate and ecological emergency to be at the heart of planning policy and support the Review’s call for a net zero test, as well as greater powers for local authorities to exceed national planning standards.
The group hope that government heeds Skidmore’s calls to simplify net zero funding for local climate action which currently leads to council resources wasted on complex bid preparation for short term schemes and disadvantages smaller councils. As the report identifies, more devolution of funding and powers will allow local councils to tailor climate action to local needs and build long-term programmes which provide certainty for employers and skills providers.
The review points out that siloed working is still holding government back: just one example is a lack of representation of the Department for Education on the Local Net Zero Forum. Without the right green education and skills, the net zero transition will be hobbled.
The coalition points out that councils are keen to be part of the ‘Big Bang moment for net zero’ that Skidmore demands, but with a decade of funding cuts to council budgets, there must be both investment from government and the freedom to raise money locally, for example, by using payroll levies on businesses to fund public transport.
Mark Kemp, President of ADEPT, said: “Our progress report creates a worrying picture with not a single action scoring a green rating. Local authorities are key to delivering net zero and biodiversity net gain – both are essential to climate action at the local level which is the only way to meet established government targets. We need firm commitment and resources from government to address the climate crisis.”