"We’re not doing enough to tackle climate change” admits top planner in Milton Keynes

A planning chief in the city says Milton Keynes is not doing enough to tackle climate change.

An MK Council committee is carrying out a root and branch review of the nitty gritty of policies and on Wednesday they and members of the public gave housing and planning experts a two and a half-hour grilling.

Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes Council

“We’re not doing very well is the gist of it,” said Andrew Turner, MK Council’s development plans and delivery manager. “We’re not doing very much in our local plans to reduce carbon dioxide amounts.”

But he said there was a “growing challenge” to do something about the issue.

Mr Turner said their were a number of reasons why the system is failing to get to grips with climate change, including a national focus on building houses, which were “trumping” other objectives. The house building target for MK is 1,756 every year.

But there are things that can be done including on housing design and energy use, as long as developers “play ball” and accept local rules. “We are doing as much as we can in planning policy,” he added.

Mr Turner added that if the council tried to impose rules on developers which affected profits, they could reduce the number of affordable homes that normally have to be built.

The Climate Change Task and Finish Group was shown an image which indicated that Milton Keynes was among the worst carbon dioxide polluters in the region.

Most of this comes from transport (40 per cent), followed by business and housing, so Mr Turner believed it would make sense to concentrate on tackling the biggest causes of the problem.

Mike LeRoy, of the MK Forum, said that the council needed to have stronger policies when it was developing its own land. But he said there had been little done environmentally with the council’s own development of Tickford Fields.

“If it’s on the council’s own land then this is the prime place to be doing carbon neutral developments,” he said.

Mr LeRoy also said little was being done to promote the district heating network in central Milton Keynes. A mini power station, in Avebury Boulevard, near The Hub, could easily be connected to businesses, he said.

But Mr LeRoy added that he had to “badger” Network Rail into taking energy from the two gas turbine plant, while another developer at a city centre scheme “knew nothing about” the ThamesWey Combined Heat and Power scheme.

And Alan Francis, of the Green Party, said: “The Combined Heat and Power Plant has been going for 20 years. People should not lack confidence in it but most people in Central MK aren’t even aware of it.”