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Salt Cross Garden Village 20 Feb 2024 High Court overturns the Government Inspectors' decision to water down net zero policy!

West Oxfordshire proposed one of the most progressive plans for a net-zero village in the UK but Government planning inspectors said the plans were too ambitious! Rights Community Action took the Government to court to challenge this decision... and the High Court ruled today that the Inspectors were ‘plainly wrong’.

District Councillor Carl Rylett hailed the judgement: ‘This is a victory for both the fight against climate change and for local democracy... You might hope that the national government would support such an initiative but quite the opposite’.

The tale may take another twist, however, as a Written Ministerial Statement from last December is explicit in saying ‘the Government does not expect plan-makers to set local energy efficiency standards for buildings that go beyond current or planned buildings regulations’.

DATELINE 14/04/2023: Climate change concerns and zero carbon development: the fightback continues. Rights Community Action (RCA) has issued a High Court legal challenge to the planning inspectorate rejection of West Oxfordshire District Council’s net zero plans for Salt Cross Garden Village.

Locally, the EPIC response to the inspector is typically robust; and an insidious threat to biodiversity net gain is the subject of a separate blog.

baseline management: spot the use of herbicide

DATELINE 09/03/2023: The Planning Inspector’s report on Salt Cross Garden Village Area Action Plan, dated 1 March 2023 and published on the District Council’s dedicated web page, represents a slap in the face for zero carbon ambition.

WODC will now review the report recommendations, which include further changes to the AAP, particularly in relation to net zero carbon development, and formally consider its adoption. View the press release.

The Inspectorate is inviting feedback from anyone who took part in the examination: any comments via this short survey form will be confidential.

DATELINE 01/12/2022: District Council consultation on a series of proposed Main Modifications to the Area Action Plan ran from 23 September to 4 November 2022. A schedule of responses has now been compiled and forwarded to the Planning Inspectors. 136 of the total 174 responses relate to Policy 2 – Net Zero Carbon Development; links follow for a selection.

DATELINE 23/09/2022: The District Council is consulting on a series of Main Modifications for the Garden Village Area Action Plan, as required by the Government Inspector.

Its net zero carbon development policy in particular has been watered down, since the Inspector ruled it ‘neither consistent with national policy nor justified’: view the press release.

View the documents

‘It is notable that for a small number of policies ... the significance of the positive effects identified previously has been reduced,’ says the Council.

The Oxford Mail records a stream of protests, from local and national organisations; and EPIC promises more. However...

‘The consultation ... is on the substance of the modifications themselves. It is not on whether parties agree or not with [our] reasoning,’ write the Inspectors.

RESPONSES - preferably via a standard form - should be emailed to by Friday 4 November. All responses will be published and forwarded to the Government Inspector.

‘We are very disappointed’

DATELINE 16/06/2022: The Planning Inspector has finally approved the Area Action Plan (framework) for developing Salt Cross Garden Village, excepting chiefly the requirement for new homes to be built to net-zero carbon standards.

District and Parish Councillor Carl Rylett’


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