Category: Cities and local authorities, Emission inventories, Policies and measures

Runnymede Borough Council Climate Change Study

Aether, in partnership with Land Use Consultants (LUC), delivered a package of works to support Runnymede Borough Council’s (RBC) review of the 2030 Local Plan with a view to introducing stronger policies to address the impacts of climate change.

The challenge

Local authorities have a key role to play in helping to achieve challenging local and national targets for net zero. In part, this is about how councils operate as large organisations and service providers.  This can include measures to improve council buildings' energy efficiency, installing or sourcing low carbon energy, moving to a low carbon vehicle fleet and encouraging employees to adopt low carbon behaviours. Local authorities can also provide leadership to local partners, businesses and communities, giving information and support to carbon reduction initiatives and measures across the council area. 

Through their local development plans, local authorities also have the opportunity to shape the type and location of development. Decisions taken now will have implications for many decades, so it is vital that policies avoid locking us into avoidable carbon emissions.

In delivering the spatial strategy set out in its adopted Local Plan, RBC has made a commitment to “be resilient to and mitigate climate change impacts especially by reducing and minimising the risks from flooding, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving water quality and efficiency”. This project aimed to provide the evidence base on which RBC can drive climate action through the introduction of stronger policies in a revised Local Plan. 

The solution

The first stage of the Study aimed to establish the Council’s baseline position in terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in order to further inform the Council’s priorities for action in its Climate Change Strategy. This helped the Authority understand its most significant sources of emissions, which can subsequently be used to prioritise actions to reduce emissions. This was delivered in Aether’s GHG baselining tool. Using the baseline emissions, the next step was to illustrate the ‘Business as Usual’ scenario, modelling future emissions assuming no further climate action is taken aside from decarbonisation of the electricity grid.

The second stage of the Study consisted of a series of options to provide evidence to underpin and support the introduction of stronger policies in the revised Local Plan. Aether led a sub-task to model an alternative ‘emissions reduction trajectory to 2050’ to illustrate the possible impacts of alternative, stronger actions, including societal changes on emissions in Runnymede borough. This trajectory demonstrated the scale of action/intervention required to reach net zero emissions in Runnymede and helps justify the introduction of stronger climate change planning policies. 


The result

The Study has provided RBC with a rich evidence base to inform the development of draft planning policies to address both climate change mitigation and adaptation action through the delivery of sustainable development. Recommended policies include consideration of energy standards for domestic and non-domestic developments; sustainable design principles; renewable and low-carbon energy generation capacity and policy interventions; and climate change adaptation measures.

The emission reduction pathway and stakeholder engagement undertaken supports the assumption that emission reductions in Runnymede will most likely track UK national ambitions rather than aiming for significantly more ambitious earlier targets. If the Council wishes to consider an earlier target (or reduce its estimated residual emissions at 2050), then the pace of change will need to significantly increase, and it will require more local innovation to overcome technical challenges that may not have yet have mainstream solutions.

The full project documents and outputs can be found here.

See all case studies

Kirsten May

Principal Consultant

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