It was interesting to listen to the chancellor’s summer statement, which outlined some important new investment that will have an impact on clean and green growth. The investment into infrastructure, the £3bn green jobs plan and the £2bn Green Homes Grant, will all help to drive a green recovery. In particular, retrofitting homes is vital for communities and the wider built environment – it not only reduces carbon emissions, it also builds resilience to future climate change, reduces fuel poverty and improves health. At the same time, it builds skills and supports low carbon economic development. These announcements are positive news for cutting carbon and we are looking forward to receiving more detail on how these schemes will work.
The announcement that all pupils are to return to school in September has led to many questions for local authorities on how public transport can manage large numbers of returning students and social distancing. Many local authorities are reviewing different options from looking at ‘school streets’ to reduce the volume of cars close to schools, to encouraging greater use of active travel for the last mile. With the emphasis on councils to provide local solutions, we are all concerned about how these will be funded and the disparity between rural and urban areas on how they can respond. ADEPT has been feeding into DfT on this issue and we are looking at the potential for a joint response with other Associations.
Mark Stevens and the Engineering Board are working on a policy position paper on e-scooters, which should be ready to publish this month. The Transport and Connectivity Board is gathering evidence on the allocation of tranche 1 active travel funds. Early indication shows it is a very mixed picture across the country. We have been asking DfT for information on tranche 2. On Monday we are hosting a virtual workshop with DfT on the transport decarbonisation plan.
The Recovery and Devolution White Paper is due out in the Autumn, with huge implications for the structure of local government in England. The Leadership Team has begun conversations on a range of questions including on organisational resilience, the impacts on service delivery and for people, place and place-shaping from potential large scale changes. The intention is to develop an ADEPT position on this issue.
The Sustainable Growth Board has just held a workshop to share perspectives around the potential themes of the forthcoming Planning White Paper. Facilitated by Paul Barnard from Plymouth City Council, the group considered the role of planning in delivering green recovery and what are the offers, and asks, of ADEPT to central government and key partners. More detail to follow.
Finally, we are finalising the programme for November’s Autumn conference taking into account the likelihood of 1m social distancing. Perhaps not surprisingly, the conference title is ‘Resilient places: from recovery to renewal’. Two themes will dominate the agenda for place over the coming months and will underpin the conference - tackling climate change (reducing emissions and adapting) and meeting the funding challenge.
As ever, keep an eye on our COVID-19 updates page for our latest news.