Guiding principle 8: Responding to climate change

Protect, manage and plan green infrastructure to help build resilience to the predicted effects of climate change and mitigate against its extreme global impacts, by:

  • promoting more sustainable travel through the use of green infrastructure corridors
  • promoting the use of natural resources to generate renewable and sustainable power
  • promoting the benefits of green infrastructure in helping to reduce the impact of flooding
  • developing a comprehensive network of habitats, enabling for habitat resilience, enhancement of biodiversity and allowing for species migration
  • planning, designing and managing green infrastructure to moderate temperature extremes in urban environments

Why this is important for Devon and beyond

There is global recognition of the urgent need to do something to address climate change. The Climate Change Act (2008) sets in place legally binding carbon emission reduction targets for the UK as part of the UK Government’s move towards a Low Carbon Economy.

The 2018 UK Climate Projections suggest that Devon can expect hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. A warmer atmosphere and oceans are projected to cause more extreme storm events and a rise in relative sea level. Information about the anticipated effects of climate change on southwest England is available in the Climate Change and Energy paper of the State of Environment report.

Green infrastructure provides us with the opportunities to mitigate against the causes of climate change, for example by creating opportunities for people to walk and cycle on safe and attractive routes – reducing car use and utilising products from woodland and vegetation management for biomass energy.

Green infrastructure can also help us adapt to the risks posed by climate change, for example reducing flood risk, providing habitat corridors to allow for species migration as a result of changing climate patterns and providing vegetation in urban areas which provides a cooling effect on hot summer days.

Strategic priorities and approaches for working together across Devon

8.1: Create of new woodlands to increase the amount of vegetation which is able to absorb carbon dioxide

8.2: Increase the amount of planting in both public and privately owned areas, particularly in rural areas

8.3: Create new landscape scale areas of habitat to allow migration and movement of species in response to changing climate. These will need to be based on robust evidence relating to the fragmentation and connectivity of habitats, see the tools at the bottom of this page. National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 109, relates to establishing coherent ecological networks

8.4: protect and create new public rights of way and sustainable transport routes to give people the option to utilise more sustainable travel modes

8.5: Promote Renewable energy production such as biomass and other generation techniques using green or blue infrastructure such as hydro-electric power

8.6: Use Sustainable urban drainage systems to reduce surface water runoff, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 103 of the National Planning Policy Framework. These schemes should be designed not only to provide greater resilience against flooding, but also to provide for biodiversity and public access, where this can be safely achieved

  • Your role

    Find out how you can get involved in the delivery of this guiding principle, whether you are an interested individual or community group or, a landowner or a public authority.

    Local authorities

    Policy Planners: Planning authorities should protect and promote the introduction of new natural areas within their planning area that will allow for the migration of species. Biodiversity offsetting may provide additional funds for this and this should be investigated.

    Landowners, developers and design professionals

    Landowners: landowners of large areas can consider the benefits of planting new woodland, and organisations such as the woodland trust can offer advice and help about how to go about this. Landowners of wooded areas should consider the benefits that could be gained from better management of that woodland, for example generating income from craft products or energy generation.

    Landowners should consider the natural capital of their estate with specific regard to sustainable energy generation from, for example, hydro-electric.

    Developers and designers: should ensure that new developments are designed featuring attractive green infrastructure, including planting and landscaping to help cool areas and provide shelter against the sun and rain.

    Communities and individuals

    All: can take charge of their local environment to help make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Opportunities that private gardens offer to provide a network of habitats, reduce surface water run-off and provide shade should not be underestimated. Green roofs and living walls can contribute towards creating the green network throughout and within urban and rural areas.

Tools and case studies to help you

Further information about the benefits of GI

The Landscape Institute has produced a position statement about why and how our environments need to change to meet the challenge of climate change. It includes a number of useful case studies.

Further information about the benefits of GI

The Woodland Trust has also set out the reasons for increasing the level of planting, specifically in urban environments, and case studies of where this has been successfully achieved.

Design Guide for Trees

A recent report by the Trees and Design Action Group provides comprehensive guidance on how and why we should make space for trees in towns as part of a local green infrastructure system, highlighting the multiple benefits trees can have, including their contribution to our health and wellbeing.

Plant your own trees

The woodland Trust offers a wealth of helpful information about tree planting and woodland creation.

Make your own green roof

The Environment Agency has useful guidance on designing and providing green roofs. Please ensure you have the appropriate permissions before undertaking such work.