The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate

Initial Report: Global Challenge, Local Action

March 2021


            The Commission was established by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority to provide independent advice to local government, the broader public sector and business in the area on both setting and meeting carbon reduction targets for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and preparing for climate change.  The commission has now published its first report (see here) which sets out in clear detail the likely effect of climate change on the area of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) based on commissioned scientific research.


            The context

The report points out that there is little time left to take action to achieve “Net Zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  In the CPCA area, emissions are approximately 25% higher per person than the UK average.  At this level of emissions we have only about 6 years remaining before we will have exhausted all of our ‘allowed’ share of emissions to 2050 if we are to play an equal part in achieving this target.  Major changes to planning policy will be called for, given that the current Local Plans for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are supposed to run until 2031 and will need, therefore, to be reviewed.


            Effects of climate change

The commission describes the likely effect of climate change on the area of the CPCA.  Roasting hot summers, heavier rainfall in the winter but less in the summer.  The area is particularly vulnerable; 40% being below sea level with commensurate risks of increased flooding.  Water supply is a critical issue.  All aspects of industry and agriculture will be affected, in addition to the effect on the health and wellbeing of the people and the need to protect and enhance biodiversity and the natural environment generally.


            Some recommendations

It is recommended that the combined authority should aim for Net Zero as early as 2030.  Investment in measures to mitigate the effect of climate change and to adapt to it will need to rise in the CPCA area to £700M per annum.

Within the CPCA area transport is the main culprit.  The aim should be to switch to emission free vehicles.  Housing will need to be retrofitted to make living in it tolerable in the new conditions.  Heating and ventilation systems will need to be replaced.

The picture painted by the report must be seen against the ambitions of central and local government to achieve substantial economic growth in the area of the CPCA, not forgetting the Cambridge-Oxford “Arc”.  Central government should review its ideas on the reform of the planning system as set out in the Planning White Paper of last August.


If the report of the commission has any weakness it is in its ideas of how the changes it recommends can be funded and implemented in time.  In this the commission must be up against the way central and local government in this country is organised.


This short note cannot do justice to this important report.  It should be compulsory reading for all decision makers both in local government and in the private sector.  The commission aims to publish its second and final report later in the year.


Anthony Cooper

The Local Plan – talk by Brian Milnes on 8 February 2021

Brian Milnes, District Councillor for Sawston, gave a most interesting talk about the Local Plan, explaining why it is important to everyone in the district.

Brian explained that the Local Plan sits within the National Planning Policy Framework in England, which covers housing, business, economic development, transport and the natural environment.  The council is required through the local plan to identify its housing needs for the next five years, and identify sufficient sites to meet those needs (five year supply).  If the council does not have an approved Local Plan with sufficient five year supply in place, it can lose control over where planning permission is granted, as the Secretary of State can intervene.  This can mean building being approved in locations that the council would not have otherwise supported.  National policy states there should be a presumption in favour of sustainable development.  A new white paper called “Planning for the future” outlines ambitions of the Government for the construction of 300,000 new homes per year.

To complement The Local Plan, communities can also develop a Neighbourhood Plan and a Village Design Guide.

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are producing a joint Local Plan for the two areas – referred to as Greater Cambridge.  The Local Plan takes a view of the next twenty years, but is updated every five years.  It covers issues such as the Green Belt, utilities (such as water), infrastructure and transport.  Work on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan started in Spring 2019 and is expected to be completed by Spring 2024.

Three growth projections for the area have been calculated, which generate the potential need for between 9,000 – 26,000 new homes to be built in the next five year period.  The potential to meet these projected housing requirements are being assessed in eight strategic location options.

The Local Plan must ensure sustainable development so options are being evaluated against eight priority themes including Climate Change and Wellbeing and Social inclusion.  Specialist independent reports have been commissioned to help evaluate the eight locations, such as the Integrated Water Management Study and Implications for Carbon Emissions study.  Some of these studies have already been published and are available online.

There are multiple opportunities to be involved in the consultation processes whilst the plan is being developed.  The next stage of consultation on the preferred options is due Summer/Autumn 2021.

For more information see these webinar presentation slides prepared last autumn.


(With thanks to Jane Chisholm)



Upcoming dates 2021

For your diaries, our proposed dates for 2021 are these, with a mixture of planning meetings and events or activities. It’s likely that all will be virtual for a while, of course. Check our Facebook page for information nearer the time.

Monday 8th February

Thursday 11th March

Thursday 8th April

Monday 10th May

Monday 7th June

Thursday 8th July

Thursday 12th August

Monday 6th September

Monday 11th October

Thursday 4th November

Thursday 2nd December (Annual Open Meeting)

Events we hope to arrange this year include finding out about local water supply, the Local Plan, holding a litter pick and running a fruit and veg swap on weekend dates, and arranging something around the COP26 in November (the international environmental conference that the UK is hosting in Glasgow). Various other ideas were discussed in our planning, so watch this space. We may also add in repair cafes or outdoor events when it is safe to do so.

The supply of water will be a limiting factor in the development of this area. It is discussed in the draft Greater Cambridge Local Plan. Our aquifers suffer from over-extraction for agriculture and to supply all the houses in the area, and it is important that we protect the quality of our chalk streams. There is a newly-formed group, Friends of the River Cam, and they have a very good video on YouTube called Saving the River Cam, by Feargal Sharkey.

We hope to arrange a date for the collection of old computer equipment for re-use or recycling, through a local contact. So don’t throw out your old laptops and cables, they can be useful to others  – not least the children who are having to stay at home during the pandemic but haven’t the means to study online.

A few things to do while you’re locked in again:

Try and shop locally rather than swelling the supermarket coffers if you can. You’ll save petrol, packaging, and keep local shops going.

At some date in February our MP’s next Environmental Forum is to be held, so if you are interested in attending do keep an eye on his website ( or his Facebook page so you can register.  If you have a question you can ask it at the Forum or submit it in advance.  It is helpful to us if you can also send a copy to us at the usual address (moc.l1620743430iamg@1620743430ssssp1620743430uorgn1620743430eerg1620743430 )

You may have seen that Chris Packham has launched a petition to stop HS2 (HS2 petition will find it on Google). The case for it is weakened as more people will continue to work from home longer-term, at least some days a week (same as for the Busway closer to home…). If you want more information about the damage to nature before you sign, see the Woodland Trust’s website.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment, send an email to moc.l1620743430iamg@1620743430ssssp1620743430uorgn1620743430eerg1620743430 to sign up for our newsletter, ask a question,  or to join in any of our meetings. Also see our Facebook page.

Helen Hale

Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – report

2G3S Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – by Zoom

16 people present, with 4 apologies.  Claire Lord chaired.

Review of 2020

2 Conversation Evenings in person (Natural Disasters; Eco-friendly gardening); 3 by Zoom (Cook stoves in Africa; Extinction Rebellion; Sustainable Diet).  Better attendance in person, although the Zoom meetings still averaged around 15 people.

1 Repair Café, in Great Shelford at the end of February.  Held jointly with GS Free Church who ran a Swish (high-quality clothes swap) at the same time.  Very successful with nearly 70 items seen and 12 repairers present – over 50% items repaired.

Other Events: Open Eco home; guided nature walks; fruit and veg swap; ‘The Story of Plastic’ online film show and discussion.

Campaigns: SE Busway proposals; Greater Cambridge Green Infrastructure survey.  Traffic surveys in Great Shelford.  Involvement with 4 local bids to South Cambridgeshire’s Zero Carbon grant scheme, all successful.  Major representation at MP Anthony Browne’s Zoom calls as part of The Time Is Now campaign and subsequently.

Plans for 2021

Agreed to meet every month and alternate planning meetings with events; probably all on Mondays or Thursdays.

Conversation Evenings: It was thought that we should ensure conversation evenings include what actions we can take locally in our community or as individuals, and pick events that will be attractive more widely in the community.

Agreement of themes: Water, local planning issues and possibly some of the strands in the government’s 10-point plan on climate change, eg green public transport, cycling and walking; greener buildings; protecting our natural environment.

Other events considered: cycle rides; nature walks; another Wandlebury event; virtual Repair Café (like Gardeners’ Question Time?)


Convenor: Claire Lord

Co-chairs: Sophi Berridge, Peter Fane

Treasurer: Chris Cooper

Meeting notes: Jane Chisholm, Helen Hale

Publicity: Beth Atkin (social media), Helen Hale (village magazines), Linda Whitebread (newsletter and website)

Repair Cafés: Chris Cooper, Yasmin Emerson

Greener Sawston rep: Yasmin Emerson

You can contact any of us at moc.l1620743430iamg@1620743430ssssp1620743430uorgn1620743430eerg1620743430 – say who the email is for and it will be forwarded.

Have your say on new Planning Laws (by 29 October)

Readers may know that the government is proposing radical changes to planning laws which will mean that individuals, and even councils, will have less opportunity to comment on proposals.

2G3S supporter and planning expert Anthony Cooper wrote a timely letter about this to The Cambridge Independent, much of which we reproduce below:

           The government proposes to “speed up” and “streamline” the planning system by replacing it with a new regime altogether.  They believe that the present system is an obstacle to the delivery of new homes. They are mistaken.  There is plenty of land with permission for building already and most applications for planning permission receive consent.  As we rely upon the market to deliver new homes it is the market which determines when and where those new homes are built.  If the market is slow in delivering new homes it is for commercial reasons.

            Everyone should be concerned at the way the government proposes to change the planning system.  Although the public will still have a say, albeit a rather limited one in the drawing up of new district plans, the scope of the public to comment on and object to specific planning applications will be severely limited and in some circumstances denied altogether.  Even our elected local representatives could be cut out of the process.  In those cases the first thing a houseowner would know about something going on next door would be the arrival of the builders.

            The government is consulting on their ideas and your readers have until the end of this month to make their views known.  The government’s proposals are set out in a White Paper called “Planning for the Future” and can be accessed online here.

The consultation document is available here.  The consultation is open until 11.45 pm on Thursday 29 October.

Planning for Net Zero

2G3S supporter Anthony Cooper has written a timely and very comprehensive paper entitled ‘Planning for Net Zero’ which you can read here.  Note this is a second, revised edition (November 2020) which includes an author’s preface.

Topics covered include:


The Climate Change Act

Sustainable Development





Water Supply, Flooding and Waste Disposal

Atmospheric Pollution

Commerce and Industry


Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry and Fishing

Conservation and Heritage


Green Belts


Where do we go from here?

Anthony is a retired government legal adviser (Treasury Solicitor’s Dept and Department of Trade & Industry) and  has taken a keen interest in town planning and environmental issues for many years.  He served on the National Committee of CPRE in the 1990s and has been an active member of Cambridge, Past, Present and Future (formerly the Cambridge Preservation Society) for 30 years.  He currently serves on the society’s Planning Committee.

Please note that the views expressed in Anthony’s paper are  personal and do not necessarily represent those of 2G3S as a whole.

If you wish to comment on Anthony’s paper, you can reach him via 2G3S.   Email us at *protected email*, with the heading ‘Cooper Net Zero paper’.


2G3S response to Green Infrastructure Survey

2G3S have responded to a ‘Green Infrastructure Survey’ organised by LUC (environmental management consultants) on behalf of SCDC and CCC.  You can see our response here.  We also submitted a map (based on Stapleford and Great Shelford Neighbourhood Plan recommendations).

Many thanks to Yasmin who co-ordinated the work on this.


Earlier this year, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council appointed LUC to provide evidence informing the creation of an enhanced and expanded green (and blue) infrastructure network in Greater Cambridge (defined as the combined area of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire districts).

The project specification includes a number of related work strands:

  1. Assess existing network
  2. Identify priority areas for enhancement
  3. Identify refined priority areas and identify deliverable opportunities for enhancement
  4. Policy development advice
  5. Further potential work, including provision of expert advice to Plan Making and Development Plan Examination.

The work, which will extend to January 2024, will form part of the Councils’ development plan-making process in relation to green infrastructure and biodiversity, and will also identify green infrastructure opportunities that could be delivered outside of the planning system.  The current survey is part of that process.


Cambridgeshire County Council has had a Green Infrastructure strategy since at least 2006.  The strategy demonstrates how green infrastructure can be used to help to achieve four objectives:

  • To reverse the decline in biodiversity
  • To mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • To promote sustainable growth and economic development
  • To support healthy living and well-being

Proposal for a Cambridge Great Park to encircle the city

From ‘The Cambridge Independent’, 14 April 2020:

“Campaigners who want to see a new Cambridge Great Park for the city to protect green belt land are asking the public to add their own ideas to the proposals.

Led by retired architect Neil Ruffles, the group has already submitted an outline idea to Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to be considered as part of their next Local Plan.

Now they want to hear from anyone who has a suggestion about how they could link up local green spaces into one huge green space that is open to the public and what they would want to see in the park………

……….to submit your ideas, email *protected email*.”

See the full article for more details.

Coronavirus epidemic

Please note that, as you would expect, we are not able to meet in person during the current lockdown conditions.

Planning is still going ahead online.  Contact us if you would like to participate.

News from the August meeting

2G3S meeting held 30 August 2018
We discussed various ideas for future events, including ways to progress our campaign against single-use plastics.  As part of this we are publicising the Eco Living Festival in Cambridge on 22 September.

There are also important events being held by other groups in the near future, including the international ‘Rise for Climate’ action on Saturday 8 September.

Also Camcycle, formerly Cambridge Cycling Campaign, are holding a month of cycling events in Cambridge throughout September.

Back to 2G3S: we are hoping to hold an Apple Day next autumn, possibly as part of a wider event.  The idea is to combine apple pressing for juice, which we have done before, with talks and activities on how to use your apples (making chutneys, cakes etc).

We will almost certainly hold another Repair Café, and are considering ideas for winter evening activities – something on plastics? green finance and investment?  Let us know what you would be interested in.

Fracking: we plan to be part of a delegation to our MP, Heidi Allen, urging her to vote against the government’s proposal to bypass local democracy and planning processes to fast-track fracking.

We are looking for photos for our new website.  If you would like to send in a photo (as jpg format please) that illustrates either our general Mission Statement, or a particular type of 2G3S event, we would be delighted to hear from you.  We especially welcome submissions from young people.  So please send your photo, plus your age if you think it relevant, to moc.l1620743430iamg@1620743430ssssp1620743430uorgn1620743430eerg1620743430.  Photos are welcome at any time, but we shall be making our initial selections by the end of December, and awarding a small prize to the best (ioho!) of those we publish.

Financial  help for other groups
Finally, we are a small group of activists.  We always welcome more people to our meetings!  But we have also decided that one way of advancing our aims is to give financial help to other organisations who wish to put on events.  So if you or your group want to stage an event in the 2G3S area which complies with the 2G3S Mission Statement, and need some funding for pump priming, you can apply to us for up to £75.  If at the end of the day you can give some or all of this back, that would be great, but is not essential.  Contact us for more information.