The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, “COP26”, will be held between 31 October 2021 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.
The summit will bring together over 30,000 heads of state, climate change experts and campaigners to discuss and agree a coordinated approach to climate change.
The Paris Agreement, which was signed by a number of countries around the world in 2016, set an ambitious target to keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is now recognised that more action is urgently needed if this is to be achieved.
The Scottish Government has committed to becoming a net zero society by 2045. The nature of future development of land, particularly the design of large-scale mixed-use developments and developments related to sustainable energy will continue to be key factors in the delivery of this commitment.
Future implications are likely to include planning regulations imposed on Local Authorities when granting and considering planning applications from developers specifically designed to support ‘green’ development.
It is expected that there will be more support during the planning stage for projects that are focused on renewable energy, low and zero carbon developments, and developments that reduce the need to travel –the concept of “20 minute neighbourhoods”.
The Scottish Government is also consulting on the use of heat networks to tackle climate change. Heat networks deliver heat from a central source via insulated pipes to homes and commercial businesses. The heat networks can run from renewable energy sources. Local heat network hubs and the pipe routes to local towns are likely to become viewed as key infrastructure in future land development.
The Scottish agricultural sector is another area where the government is targeting a reduction in carbon admissions. This raises opportunities for both landowners and energy developers and suppliers. Many landowners are now looking to incorporate renewable energy developments into their agricultural activities.
It is hoped that in the lead up to and following the COP26 summit, with focus on the urgent need for action and the world watching the UK, there will be a commitment to not only putting in place tough restrictions on carbon heavy developments, but to also providing funding and support mechanisms for landowners and developers who propose green, sustainable development and an easier route through planning for such projects.
We will be looking out for commitments to:
- Make changes to planning regulations and central resourcing of planning regulators to prioritise ‘green’ development and to speed up the process with a view to ‘bankability’ and certainty
- Prioritisation of appropriate development on vacant and derelict land
- Curtailing of deforestation and support for compensatory planting schemes
- Grants and funding for sectors and technologies moving away from traditional sources of energy to more sustainable energy sources;
- Policies to promote and protect sustainable development of Scotland’s rural and marine economy, to protect ecosystems and to deal with rising sea-level impacts.