How is Oxford Aiming to Achieve Zero Carbon by 2025?
Oxford City Council is currently consulting on the submission version of its draft Local Plan 2040 until early January (5 January 2024). How could this local plan help the council to reach zero carbon by 2025?

After consultation, Oxford City Council is intending to submit the document to the secretary of state for examination.

In an online council summary of the draft plan’s proposal, it has stated that the most significant change in the Local Plan 2040 compared to the adopted strategy (Local Plan 2036), is the focus on reducing carbon emissions.

Oxford City Council in the summary revealed this is essential, as it aims “to become a net zero carbon city by 2040, and decarbonising buildings is key to this.”

New housing in Oxford will require no fossil fuels to be used 

The existing local plan requires new residential developments to be zero carbon from 2030, but the draft strategy would bring forward the requirement.

It is said that all new homes and businesses in Oxford would have to be zero carbon when it is adopted, which is likely to be in 2025, compared to the UK Government’s national net zero emission 2050 target.

In addition to this, the plan has also proposed that it requires no fossil fuels to be used directly in the operation of new housing or commercial developments.

To boost greener developments even more, it has stated that all major developments would have to plant more trees, hedges, and other greenery to meet new minimum standards.

With this, the proposed biodiversity net gain requirement for new housing and business schemes would be increased from five per cent to ten per cent.

Oxford City Council has a huge part to play in decarbonising UK homes

In the draft plan, the council further presents the option of creating a “resilient design and construction policy”, which asks applicants to demonstrate how they have met it via a checklist.

This includes an embodied carbon policy, which would guide developers on using materials that are less carbon-intensive to manufacture.

Oxford City Council has said it will send its draft plan and all comments received during the consultation period to the Planning Inspectorate for examination in early 2024. If approved, the draft plan could be adopted in the summer of 2025.

Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Healthier Communities explained that the city has a major role to play in the overall decarbonisation effort of the UK: “The local plan is a major step forward in how we will tackle the existential threat of climate change.

“It will require all new homes and businesses in Oxford to generate enough electricity to cover their needs, to operate without using fossil fuels and to plant more trees.”

Seeing councils put strategies in place to help to decarbonise their local communities will be crucial in seeing the change the UK needs to meet its overall net zero targets.