A GROUP of environmental lawyers has threatened Bradford Council with legal action if it does not introduce “proper plans” to combat climate change in the district.

ClientEarth, a not-for-profit environmental law organisation, has put Bradford and more than 100 other Councils in England on notice for not meeting legal obligations on climate change plans.

It said local planning policy is not compliant with carbon emission reduction targets, but Bradford Council has hit back at the claims, saying it has declared a “climate emergency” and has a number of projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Lawyers from ClientEarth have said they have written to planning officers and Councillors in Bradford, giving the Council eight weeks to explain how it will set evidence-based carbon reduction targets, and ensure the targets are central to new planning policy.

Sam Hunter Jones, a climate lawyer with ClientEarth, said: “There is a collective failure by local authorities across England to plan adequately for climate change.

“Too often climate change is perceived to be just a national or international issue and therefore solely the responsibility of central government.

“Clearly central government needs to do more, yet so many of the daily decisions around new and existing infrastructure – such as new buildings, roads and utilities – are made at the local level.

“All of these decisions will ‘lock in’ an area’s future emissions and its resilience to climate change.

“Scientists warn we have ten years to transform our economies and avoid catastrophic climate change, but decisions that will have ramifications for decades are being made now by authorities with no idea if these decisions are consistent with national and international commitments to limit emissions.

“In July this year, the CCC criticised the UK’s continued failure to take action on emissions from buildings and transport – two sectors where local planning plays a critical role.

“Climate action at a local level can transform people’s quality of life for the better, with clear net benefits to health, air and water quality, employment, energy affordability, community cohesion and biodiversity.”

ClientEarth has told Councils its targets and policies must be inline with the Climate Change Act, which targets net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It added that local authorities must monitor their performance on an annual basis.

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said the district has already had a Climate Emergency declared, and major work is underway to reduce emissions and move towards a zero carbon economy.

He said: “The Council recognises the importance of responding to the challenges of climate change and a zero carbon approach and declared a Climate Emergency in January this year.

“We have a number of major projects going ahead that will significantly reduce our carbon emissions as we move toward a zero carbon economy, such as our energy efficient street lighting project, roll-out of electric vehicle charging points and the development of a district heat network in the city centre.

“As part of its response the Local Plan Partial Review Core Strategy currently out to consultation recognises this and seeks to put in place stronger policies to respond to the climate challenge. This work will continue as the Local Plan progresses to submission.”