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Friday, September 24, 2021

Climate chief takes a dim of view of townies demanding street lights in countryside

City dwellers who move to the countryside should not expect villages to have street lighting and should use torches instead, the Government’s climate change adviser has told MPs. 

“The pressures to urbanise the countryside are largely antagonistic to dealing with climate change,” Lord Deben told the parliamentary housing communities and local government committee. 

Lord Deben, the chairman of the Government’s climate change committee (CCC), said street lighting was not always “necessary” and that rural authorities should push back against its installation. 

“When people move into the countryside you just have to say to them that this is not the town and you don’t have street lighting in the village, you have a torch, that’s how you do it,” he said. 

The village of Theydon Bois on the edge of Epping Forest is among those that has long-resisted the pressure to introduce new street lights, despite calls from more urban residents in the greater borough. 

The CCC has been critical of the planning department for failing to take into account environmental concerns and the need to reach net zero by 2050 in their decision-making. 

Lord Deben told MPs that local authorities should not allow new homes to be built in villages where residents already have to commute by car, and criticised the use of SUVs in places where they were “unnecessary” and called for them to face higher taxes. 

“It seems nonsense to allow large building of 300 houses in a village where already 98 per cent of the population are commuting at least 12 miles by car,” he said. “But you could build in the centre of cities or towns or near enough to a railway station so that you could walk.

“I know that is unpopular to the people that live in that town, but at the moment there seems to be an attitude of spreading the pain.” 

The Government has come under pressure over its proposed planning reforms, which critics have said will make it easier to build in greenbelt areas and lead to the “suburbanisation” of the countryside. 

The CCC has also been critical of the Government’s planning policies for failing to bring in restrictions to ensure new homes are low carbon.

Lord Deben said the 2015 decision to abandon standards for all new homes to be carbon neutral from 2016 had meant that more than a million new homes would need to be expensively retrofitted.

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