Award-winning team exemplifies Essex’s commitment to net zero housing

Mon, 13/05/2024 - 11:42

Essex County Council’s new Climate and Planning Unit is dedicated to achieving net zero goals.

A new team has been created by Essex County Council to drive forward net zero and sustainable development in the county.

The Climate and Planning Unit (CaPU) has been formed as part of the council’s plan to meet key net zero targets.

The Essex Climate Action Commission report, Net Zero: Making Essex Carbon Neutral, sets out a detailed roadmap to achieve net zero in Essex by 2050.

The report calls for a team of experts and specialists to support district councils, as well as housing developers, to deliver new build housing with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The CaPU is delivering on the council’s net zero commitments by:

  • working with partner authorities to set net zero policy
  • providing a network of best practice and training for local authority planners, councillors, and developers
  • supporting the 12 Essex districts with planning applications received

Residents will benefit from better health and wellbeing outcomes through the team’s contributions to a greener Essex.

The future of Essex will see less reliance on fossil fuels, with energy efficient healthier homes which have better indoor air quality. These new homes will be cheaper to run at a time where fuel poverty and cost of living are high.

The team won at the Essex Housing Awards in 2023 in the Climate Action - Low / Zero Carbon in New Homes category. This award celebrates collaboration with the Essex Planning Officers Association. Together, they aim to make net zero carbon homes an affordable reality by 2025.

Councillor Lee Scott, Cabinet Member for Planning a Growing Economy, said: ‘’The creation of the Climate and Planning Unit underscores our dedication to tackling the Government’s net zero obligations head-on.

“This skilled team has the expertise to help local planning authorities challenge planning applications, making sure that all new buildings are built in a way which benefits the environment and helps Essex meet its net zero goals.”

Councillor Peter Schwier, Climate Czar and Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling, said: “As a council, we are taking our net zero ambitions extremely seriously, and we know sustainable development will play a significant role in helping us achieve our aims. 

“Our Climate and Planning Unit will make an important contribution towards creating a greener Essex by providing advice, guidance and training while also helping to set policy. I am excited to see the benefits this will bring to Essex.”

Over the past year, the work of this team has helped shape the energy efficiency standards of 20,000 new homes planned for two garden communities.