NPPF 2 has landed and with it are changes to the government's stance on climate change. What remains to be seen is how these changes will tie in with the government's 25 Year Plan for the Environment, especially in relation to environmental net gains.
Interestingly, the government has amended the environmental role within the NPPF's aim of achieving sustainable development to include the objective of 'making effective use of land', a new chapter within the NPPF 2 that supports the promotion by the local planning authority of the effective use of land for development where appropriate and with regard to the environment.
The NPPF 2 now includes the requirement for strategic policies to make sufficient provision for a number of strategic priorities (some of which are new and some which have been carried over from the first NPPF). Among these is the requirement to make sufficient provision for planning measures to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, rather than NPPF 1's vague requirement that strategic policies should deliver climate change mitigation and adaptation with no mention of the mechanism by which that was to be achieved.
This then leads to another change - the definition of climate change adaptation has been amended to be far-reaching, lacking the specificity detailed in NPPF 1. This new definition encompasses adjustments made to 'natural and/or human systems in response to actual or anticipated impacts of climate change to mitigate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities'. It doesn't detail what those impacts are limited to, which could mean that developers will have to consider unprecedented environmental impacts of climate change. However, paragraph 149 is prescriptive in detailing the effects which will need to be mitigated and adapted to in accordance with the Climate Change Act 2008. This creates something of a conflict and it will be interesting to see whether local planning authorities will attempt to rely on the open-ended definition of climate change adaptation in refusing or granting planning permission.
In Chapter 14 of NPPF 2 (previously chapter 10 of NPPF 1) there has been a move toward supporting appropriate measures to safeguard the resilience of communities and infrastructure to climate change impacts. In NPPF 1, providing resilience was mentioned; however, it was not specific as to what the climate change impacts the resilience was to protect against.
Footnote 18 (paragraph 98) of NPPF 1, chapter 10, has been removed and footnote 49 (paragraph 154 (b)) of NPPF 2, chapter 14, is not a substitute, but rather an altogether new guidance on wind turbines. Proposed wind turbine developments (not including the repowering of existing wind turbines) will not be considered acceptable, unless the development is situated in an area identified as suitable for such a development within the development plan. Further to that, following consultation, it needs to be demonstrated that any identified planning impacts (which will be identified by the local community, rather than any statutory or advisory body) are fully addressed and the backing of the proposal by the local community has been obtained. This footnote will no doubt, in practice, prevent any new onshore wind turbine developments.
All in all, there are no ground-breaking departures from NPPF 1 with regard to climate change, save the effective ban on new onshore wind turbine developments.