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Planning and climate change

There are a lot of legal directives that developers (and the Council) must take account of when development proposals are submitted. The list here is not exhaustive, but we have tried to bring together the relevant laws and policies and some case studies of good practice.


Adopted in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol [external link] to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides legally binding limits on carbon emissions for 37 countries, including the United Kingdom (UK).

Countries who signed the Paris Agreement [external link] have agreed to keep the rise in average global temperature this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to try to keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C.


The legislation of relevance includes:

Climate Change Act 2008 [external link] sets a target for the year 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set up a system of carbon budgeting. It was amended in 2019, after the Paris Agreement to “net zero”.

Carbon Budgets Orders [external link] 2009, 2011, 2016 and 2021 set the carbon budgets for each relevant budgetary period. The 6th Carbon Budget (covering 2033 to 2037), is the first budget to take account of the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

National policies of relevance include:

National Policy Statement (NPS) EN-1 [pdf document]

  • climate impacts and adaptation;
  • adverse effects and benefits;
  • adaptation measures in response to climate projections;
  • climate projections, flood risk and the importance of relevant mitigation.

NPS EN-3 [pdf document]

  • commitments to sustained growth in solar capacity to align with the UK’s net zero ambitions
  • requirements in environmental statements regarding climate change resilience

NPS EN-5 [pdf document]

  • the importance of climate change resilience,
  • requirements in environmental statements regarding climate change resilience.

National Planning Policy Framework [pdf document] (NPPF) .

  • sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied.

UK Third Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022 [pdf document]

  • Required under the Climate Change Act 2008 every five years
  • A programme for adaptation action is produced after each risk assessment in response to identified risks.
  • The 3rd CCR Assessment (2022) makes clear the risks of not acting on climate change and ensure resilience to climate change.

The UK’s Net Zero Strategy [pdf document]

  • includes policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet net zero by 2050.

The UK Clean Growth Strategy 2017 [pdf document]

  • a plan for meeting the UK’s carbon budgets a
  • includes polices to improve the route to market for renewable technologies.

Biodiversity Net Gain is a way of creating and improving natural habitats. BNG makes sure development has a measurably positive impact on biodiversity, compared to what was there before development. 


Net Zero Strategy [pdf document] sets out the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s 10 point plan for a net zero Tees Valley by 2050.


Darlington Local Plan 2016-2036 [pdf document] sets out aims and objectives for the Local Authority.

Policy DC 1 - Sustainable Design Principles and Climate Change states that:

“Good design is required to create attractive and desirable places where people want to live, work and invest. Good design will help to reduce carbon emissions and increase the resilience of developments to the effects of climate change. All development will be required to have regard to the design principles in the Darlington Design of New Development SPD(8) and National Design Guide”.

Aim 6: Responding to Climate Change and Reducing Energy Consumption, outlines how Darlington Local Authority will support the national commitment for net zero carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It will do this by encouraging efficient use of resources, good design and well-located development, whilst increasing resilience to impacts from climate change. To achieve this, Darlington Borough needs to maximise opportunities to generate and use renewable energy in all developments.

New Development Supplementary Planning Document (Design SPD) includes information on sustainability and green infrastructure (sections 4.3 and 4.4)

Darlington Borough Council Travel Plan Guidance [pdf document]

Advice and case studies

For information on traditional buildings visit our Conservation (historical environment) webpages.

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