The extracts below are from – Finger in the dike? Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Development Planning Document. Posted on May 22, 2020 by bwdeacon
Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Development Plan Document, Scoping Report: a response
The first thing missing therefore from the Scoping Report is an honest admission that terrible mistakes have been made over the past 30 years. The second missing element is a clear and unequivocal statement about the degree of change now required to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2030.
The most significant omissions from this report are
This report contains a disturbing lack of numerical evidence. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory for Cornwall provides a baseline for assessing what is required, even though it is now well out of date. Yet this is not directly cited either in the Scoping Report or in the Topic Papers, which curiously add nothing to the Report itself. As a result, there is no assessment of how far the measures proposed will reduce Cornwall’s GHG emissions, either by 2030 or by the UK Government’s over-complacent 2050 target date.
Population and housing growth.
The biggest gap in this Report is any mention of local and central government policy which encourages speculative housebuilding. In Cornwall’s case this leads to higher rates of in-migration and/or second home ownership. Net in-migration has risen from an average of 3,463 a year in the early 2000s to 4,656 a year over the past five years. This extra population adds 23,200 tons of carbon every year to Cornwall’s GHG emissions (at the average of five tons per person).
It is frankly astonishing that there is no mention of tourism and its role in adding to Cornwall’s GHG emissions. If we assume four million visitors a year who stay on average for a week, tourism accounts for 384,000 tons (or 9%) of Cornwall’s annual carbon footprint. (Or ten times the saving from the Forest for Cornwall). Moreover, that’s just the carbon emitted in living and moving around while here. If we assume 90% of those visitors arrive by car and each car contains three people, we have 1.2 million trips. If each return trip averages 400 miles that adds another 140,000 tons of carbon.
While GHG emissions at present from this sector are relatively low (55,000 tons of GHGs a year in 2016) this was rising fast, more than doubling in the two years from 2014 to 2016. Moreover, high-level emissions of GHGs are argued to have much more deleterious effects on the environment while there is no non-carbon technological fix in sight for aviation as there is for road transport. A recent Leeds University study points out that reducing flights (the majority indulged in by a small minority of the better-off) must be a top priority in efforts to cut carbon emissions. The Council correctly states that ‘we can all do something within our control to change the world we live in’. As it owns Newquay airport one immediate thing it could do is close it down. Scrapping the spaceport would save another 4,239 tons of GHGs projected by 2030.
Road transport is not ignored in this Scoping Report, but serious policies to deal with it are. It is stated that emissions from road traffic have fallen by only 1.5% since 1990, but not that they actually rose by 2.8% from 2014 to 2016, the last figures available. Current policies – mixed use housing projects, walking and cycling networks, more bus hubs and park and rides are likely to have an infinitesimal effect on the growth of traffic emissions produced by the Council’s other policies of speculative housebuilding and reliance on tourism or may even, as in the case of park and rides, result in increased traffic levels. With the Council still granting planning permissions to housing projects well out of town that contain two car parking spaces per house, the inadequacies and contradictions of its policies on road transport clearly require some urgent re-assessment.