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News in brief: Call for clean air zones in all cities; Hampshire biomass gas plant approved

Words: Laura Edgar
Nottingham city centre / Shutterstock_205702927

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 18 October, 2016

Clean air zone required in all cities, say campaigners

Friends of the Earth has said that clean air zones are needed in every large town and city to help people to breathe more easily.

The claim comes following the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs's publication of a consultation on its clean air zone framework and the way it should be implemented in England.

Cities put forward by DEFRA to implement clean air zones are Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton.

But this does not go far enough, says Friends of the Earth. Many other areas across the country are also in breach of quality limits and therefore, the organisation says, clean air zones are required in every city and large town.

The government is due in court today for failing to meet legal limits for air pollution.

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: “Everyone, no matter where they live, should have the right to breathe clean air.

“Local authorities should be supported – including financially – to introduce clean air zones across the country.

“Air pollution is a public health crisis – it’s time it was treated that way.”

Friends of the Earth said it would be responding to the consultation, which closes on 9 December 2016. It can be found here.


Property industry calls on Hammond to boost Build to Rent

The property industry has called on chancellor Philip Hammond to bring in measures aimed at helping the Build to Rent sector to support the government to meet its housing targets amid Brexit negotiation uncertainty.

British Property Federation (BPF) figures suggest that in the past year the 67,000 Build to Rent units have been built, an increase of over 200 per cent.

Although this is encouraging, said the BPF, the sector could be delivering more homes.

To boost activity in the sector, the BPF has called on the government to consider changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on additional homes at the Autumn Statement, which would provide a “shot in the arm to the sector”.

In its submission to the government for the Autumn Statement, the BPF also urged Hammond to bring in clearer national planning policy for build-to-rent development and to allow flexibility on space standards by up to 10 per cent.


Hampshire biomass gas plant approved

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission to build a Green Gas Mill in Hampshire.

Located at Sparsholt College, the plant will be fuelled by locally sourced grass. Ecotricity said the Green Gas Mill would inject £60 million into the local economy, create new jobs and produce enough clean gas to heat at least 4,000 homes every year.

As part of the partnership between Ecotricity and the college, Ecotricity will finance and build the Green Gas Mill with an investment of £10 million, and also help fund the development of a Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre.

The college has agreed funding of £1.2 million in grant funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (M3 LEP) to go towards the development of the college’s Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre.

The Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre would train the next generation of green energy engineers in Britain, said Ecotricity.


Government announces homelessness prevention programme

Prime Minister Theresa May and communities secretary Sajid Javid have announced a £40 million programme aimed at providing innovative approaches to tackling homelessness.

The programme focuses on prevention, according to the government.

Split into the three separate funds, a £10 million rough sleeping prevention fund will go towards helping people who might be struggling to get by after ending up living on the streets.

And £20 million will help local authorities to trial new initiatives and respond to the specific needs in their communities with a focus on prevention at an early stage.

A £10 million Social Impact Bond aims to help long-term rough sleepers to address underlying issues such as poor mental health or substance abuse to help stop them from living on – and returning to – the streets.

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