Opposition says climate change issues not addressed in Borough Local Plan

Shay Bottomley

shayb@baylismedia.co.uk

Concerns have been raised by a councillor over the Borough Local Plan’s (BLP) impact on the environment.

At cabinet on Thursday, May 27, Councillor David Coppinger (Con, Bray) presented an update on the BLP following the inspector’s response to the stage 2 hearings at the end of last year.

He said the inspector had asked for three allocations that had been previously removed to be reinstated, as well as for one allocation adjacent to Maidenhead railway station to be removed.

Cllr Coppinger added that the next steps would involve the schedule of proposed main modifications for public consultation, which he sought to be discussed between the lead member, head of planning and the inspector.

However, the leader of the opposition Councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) suggested that the BLP did not reflect a council which had declared a climate change emergency.

“Climate change has to be one of the major things the council needs to be grappling with,” said Cllr Werner.

“The BLP really does not deal with the climate emergency at all, it really is a big black hole in the Borough Local Plan.

“What I am hearing tonight is that you are not going to be taking that kind of issue into consideration, you’re not going to be looking at incorporating the climate change emergency and fighting climate change at this stage of the process.

“The Borough Local Plan has to be one of the major vehicles we’ve got to actually deal with climate change in a serious way.”

In response, Cllr Coppinger said: “The plan is set in stone at this stage – this whole process is driven by the inspector.

“We do have an SPD (supplementary planning document) on climate change that is part of the Borough Local Plan.

“Once this is adopted, we can quickly move on to further work within this unsustainability, but the process for a Borough Local Plan means that it is fixed at a point in time, and that point in time has passed.

“The only changes we’re making are clarifications asked for by the inspector – we cannot do anything else.

“It is not our examination, it is the inspector’s examination,” said Cllr Coppinger.

The leader of the council, Councillor Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) agreed with his colleague that the BLP could not be changed other than the modifications requested by the inspector.

“It has been made very clear that as the BLP has progressed through the various stages it is sadly locked in a policy format from a different era – there is nothing we can do about that,” said Cllr Johnson.

“As Cllr Coppinger has said, the sooner we can get this Borough Local Plan approved, the sooner we can start work on the next one, which will include a very strong core of sustainability and climate-resilience policy within it.”

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