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RTPI blog round-up: Conservation measures in the built environment are needed more than ever to fight climate change

Words: RTPI

A round-up of RTPI blogs: 30 May-3 July, 2020

Conservation measures in the built environment are needed more than ever to fight climate change

According to government statistics, residential and business uses each account for 18 per cent of all carbon emissions and transport for 33 per cent. These figures relate to emissions by source, treating energy as a separate sector. The use of these statistics reflects the government’s policy focus on carbon reduction in power production as the main plank of efforts to address climate change. This is to the relative detriment of energy efficiency and resource conservation measures in other sectors that should form a key element in any effective decarbonisation strategy. These must be included to achieve the required impact in addressing the climate change emergency, given global heating is occurring far more rapidly than previously predicted...

By Tony Lloyd-Jones, reader in international planning and sustainable development, University of Westminster.

Are the government's climate crisis proposals just a lot of hot air?

Of all the statistics that bring the climate crisis into frightening focus, the one that sticks in the mind was given by David Wallace-Ellis in launching his book, The Uninhabitable Earth. He claims that since the inter-governmental Committee on Climate Change was established in 1992, humanity has emitted more pollution than in all the millennia before. In other words, even since we knew it was a problem, the situation has become worse...

By Geoffrey Payne, a housing and urban development consultant adn member of the RTPI international committee.

How Belfast City Council's planning department adapted to the challenge of Covid

Whilst the realisation of the full implications of COVID-19 on delivering a planning service were emerging, my first thought was how I was going to be able to change a paper-based planning system (as it is in Northern Ireland) into an electronic one?

This was on the ‘to do’ list for Northern Ireland long before I arrived in June 2018, yet had not progressed to a point where electronic applications were a reality. This was largely due to a regional back office system being out of date. The good news is work to replace this and modernise the system is now in place, and despite the current situation is still progressing well...

By Aidan Thatcher, director of planning and building control at Belfast City Council

How the RTPI Future Planners Bursary helped me achieve my dreams

After finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture at Heriot Watt University, my passion for design grew, with my interests changing to designing for the natural and built environment. I wanted to make a change, building a more sustainable future for myself, my family and my community. I applied for a place on the MSc Urban and Regional Planning course at Heriot Watt University and was delighted to be enjoying a course where I met a great range of exciting people from different professions and backgrounds, as well as interacting with some of the best lecturers in urban planning. 

When the lecturers nominated me for the RTPI bursary at the start of the course, I was delighted and relieved. As a 36-year-old single parent, going back to university after a career in the oil and gas industry, university life was challenging, as any single parent would know...

By Jennifer Campbell, who currently gaining work experience at TMC Planning Consultancy in Schotts, while finishing off her dissertation to complete her MSC Urban and Regional Planning degree at Heriot Watt University.

Why Belfast needs a socially inclusive transport infrastructure in the wake of Covid-19 

I was asked at a recent conference what a ‘resilient Belfast’ would look like for me. I responded: “a city in which my son is happy to grow up”. I think many of us are familiar with the concept of ‘sustainable development’ and its hackneyed definition of development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, WCED, 1987). However, I think the balance has now shifted, particularly with our Covid-19 experience, so that we are more future-focused and conscious that our ‘needs’ actually might need to be questioned, reframed and put in the perspective of future-proofing our cities...

By Joanna Drennan, Northern Ireland policy officer, RTPI

‘The community was clearly in the driving seat’

The South West is the largest of the RTPI’s nine English regions – it is larger than Wales! Extending from Cotswolds to the Scilly Isles, it is renowned for its environmental quality, its mild climate and spectacular coastline. With a population of around 5.5m, the region includes a number of major urban centres. One of these, Bristol, was the focus of my virtual visit to the region which took place on 9 June.

By Sue Manns FRTPI, RTPI president.

Shaping a planning consultancy during lockdown

Like every other business, Nexus Planning has been significantly affected by the lockdown. Some of those changes have been challenging to assimilate, while others have proven surprisingly positive. At this stage we don’t know the global impact of the virus on our industry, but we can reflect on a few of the obstacles we have overcome and attempt to look into the future for our clients...

By Shaun Andrews, executive director of Nexus Planning

Dangers and opportunities: Presidential team report

The digital Presidency has continued through May and will remain in place until 31 December 2020. As John F Kennedy said, “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters – one represents danger, the other represents opportunity” and what an opportunity the digital Presidency has turned out to be...

By RTPI President Sue Manns FRTPI

Invisible cities - urbanisation in Africa

Not the invisible cities of Italo Calvino but settlements hiding in plain sight under the veil of official definitions and inadequate data. That is only one of the dramatic and far reaching findings of ‘Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics’, published by the OECD in February. It is the latest report coming from Africapolis, an initiative started by the African Development Agency and funded by a range of agencies including the French National Research Agency...

By Neil Blackshaw, MRTPI (retired)