Future Chippenham Plan and Climate Change

Future chippenham housing and climate change

Undoubtedly the topic of the decade, tackling Climate change, needs to be done at all levels and rapidly. Personally I don’t believe this should be down to our children to solve which is one of the main reasons i’m putting myself forward.

I’ve done some fair Carbon budget calculations for Chippenham using work by Professor Tim Jackson and I estimate Chippenham has a remaining fair carbon budget of 1.69 Mega Tonnes of CO2 to remain within 1.5 degrees C *

What does that mean?

Well think of it like a bath tub filling up. As we go about our daily lives in Chippenham – driving to work, heating our houses, manufacturing, building… etc all these activities currently emit CO2. Whilst some of this CO2 is absorbed by forests and some by the oceans (causing ocean acidification), much remains long term for 10,000 years or so until it is sequestered slowly by acid rain and locked up into sedimentary rock. So the bath tub keeps filling up until we turn the taps off completely. Hence the net zero targets.

Chippenham and Wiltshire have declared a net zero target date of 2030. 

I’ve been calculating Chippenham’s Carbon budget and it becomes obvious as soon as you look at the figures that there isn’t any spare headroom and we need to move rapidly.

For example –

Commuting to work using figures from th Neighbourhood plan survey, 114,846 tonnes of CO2 until 2035. 

Household Energy usage until 2035, 457,776 tonnes of CO2

etc, etc…

Yet the Future Chippenham plan, revised Local Plan, distributor road, and Rawlings farm developments plan for around 16000 houses around Chippenham. With current technology building a house emits approximately 50 – 80 tonnes of CO2 in construction materials – mainly cement and concrete, that would result in 0.8 Megatonnes of CO2 for the houses alone or in other words half of Chippenham’s total remaining carbon budget. This doesn’t account for the infrastructure, road building, carbon sequestered in the farmland… In short even if the houses are built to standards that are incredibly energy efficient to run Passivhaus etc, unless they are built using materials and techniques that lead to net zero carbon Chippenham will be unlikely to meet its net zero commitment within a carbon budget compatible with 1.5 degrees C. So all of the houses and infrastructure need to be built using materials essentially made of wood, SIPP panels, recycled materials etc.Buildings in Chippenham will need to look like this 

I have seen no evidence in the Future Chippenham scheme that this is the proposal and believe the current proposals for Chippenham make it impossible to meet net zero and remain within our Carbon budget. Wiltshire council is potentially setting Chippenham on a path where it will be impossible to meet climate goals.

Along with many others I have worked on the Chippenham Neighbourhood plan to try and get new sustainable design and build standards into place. Unfortunately all of the proposed housing development is perhaps intentionally outside of the current Neighbourhood plan area.

So I will continue to push hard for Chippenham to reach net zero within its fair carbon budget and for a real roadmap to net zero outside of the dogma of party politics. We need to start now so we can ensure a fair transition for everyone. In reality we should have started 20 years ago. If we can do this it will be one of mankind’s greatest collective achievements.

*I’m happy for anyone to come up with an alternative figure – i’ve yet to see any information from Chippenham or Wiltshire town council on this despite having declared a climate emergency nearly two years ago.