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Villagers ‘should rely on torches to see at night’, Government’s climate adviser says 

Villagers ‘should rely on torches to see at night’: Street lighting in rural areas should be scaled back and SUV drivers hit with higher taxes, Government’s climate adviser says

  • Lord Deben called for lighting in rural areas to be scaled back for the climate
  • He also warned against building hundreds of homes in villages where most workers would have to commute by car – adding to pollution
  • Lord Deben, who served in the Cabinet as John Gummer, also called for higher taxes on sports utility vehicles to reflect their greater carbon emissions 


Villagers should use torches to walk home at night instead of relying on street lights, the Government’s climate adviser has claimed.

Lord Deben called for lighting in rural areas to be scaled back, telling the housing and local government select committee: ‘When people move into the countryside you just have to say to them, ‘this is not the town, we do not have street lighting in this village, you have a torch, that’s just how we do it’.’

Lord Deben, chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, also warned against building hundreds of homes in villages where most workers would have to commute by car.

Calling on councils to focus on developing in cities or towns – or near rail stations – he said: ‘You’ve got to plan your future around hubs so that people can get to work on their feet or a bicycle.’

Lord Deben, who served in the Cabinet as John Gummer, also called for higher taxes on sports utility vehicles to reflect their greater carbon emissions.

Stressing that such large cars are ‘unnecessary’ for many owners, he said yesterday: ‘They are not driving over terrain… it’s become a fashion, and we have to recognise there is a cost to that.’

Villagers should use torches to walk home at night instead of relying on street lights, the Government’s climate adviser has claimed [Stock image]

Lord Deben said authorities must think about everything they do through the prism of climate change.

Councils ‘must be looking at everything they do, their waste collection, road building, so they are thinking all the time, ‘what is the climate change issue here, what do we have to do to make our contribution to net zero’, he said.

Giving evidence to Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (HCLG), Lord Deben, chairman of the independent advisory Climate Change Committee, warned: ‘The pressures to urbanise the countryside are largely antagonistic to dealing with climate change.’

He criticised the Government for abandoning plans for zero carbon homes in 2017 which means more than a million properties built since then will have to be retrofitted to make them green enough to meet climate targets.

Lord Deben said authorities must think about everything they do through the prism of climate change [Stock image]

Lord Deben said authorities must think about everything they do through the prism of climate change [Stock image]

He spoke of his own difficulty in getting a heat pump – a low carbon alternative to gas boilers for heating and hot water – fitted in his house, and said a system is needed to reassure people that installations are being done properly.

Lord Deben told the committee that central government must work in partnership with local authorities to deliver on the UK’s targets to cut emissions to zero overall by 2050, or the goals will not be met.

He said people have greater confidence in local authorities to deliver schemes such as retrofitting homes with energy efficiency measures, and councils know their areas, but he added that they need more information to make decisions, and called for a new planning act to reflect the country’s climate commitments.

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