Cornwall Council continues to work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The council is leading by example encouraging all other agencies, businesses, residents and visitors to Cornwall to help take this huge step.

Cornwall adopted their new Climate Emergency DPD in February 2023, with a clear set of Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets going above and beyond building regulations for all new residential developments.

Read the Climate Emergency Development Plan Document here.

Emily Rubin, Principal Development Officer, at Cornwall Council offered an update on their ambitious Policy SEC1 (Sustainable Energy and Construction) which was implented 1 year ago.

Policy SEC1 (the net zero policy) has been implemented since June 2023, a year during which Cornwall Council processed the most applications for dwellings of any planning authority in England and approval rates have remained high. The use of the offsetting by exception route (for where there are technical limitations) has been negligible. The success of the policy has been helped by training, guidance and support given to applicants and officers. A specialist officer supports the application of the policy including through pre-application advice.

Policy SEC1 is a key policy within Cornwall Council’s Climate Emergency DPD which won “Best Plan” and “Best in Region” at the 2024 South West RTPI Awards. The award judges recognised the exemplary standards for energy performance and construction as well as their transferability to other locations, affordability and deliverability.

The RTPI website positively states the following regarding the award: (

Cornwall Council’s Climate Emergency DPD pushes at the boundaries of how planning can deliver for a sustainable future. It recognises and enables the multiplicity of actions required to create sustainable places. The DPD comprehensively drives a sustainable future for our towns, villages and other rural areas, reduces the need to travel, promotes renewable energy infrastructure, boosts active and low carbon travel, addresses coastal change and provides a framework for communities to create strategies that make their localities resilient to climate change. The energy standards for new homes are at the vanguard of net zero progress, whilst also tackling fuel poverty.In selecting this entry as category winner the judges considered the submission as setting exemplary standards for energy performance and construction, to deliver significant positive impacts by guiding and delivering sustainable development.

The submission was clearly presented, evidence-based, linked policy to evaluation criteria, demonstrated partnership working, used free-to-all source data and evaluation tools, with an excellent engagement approach. Closely focused on the specific characteristics and needs of Cornwall, the approach is also highly transferable, with an effective, combined focus on environmental and climate objectives and both affordability and deliverability. Consequently, the DPD was considered to assist in the delivery of a full range of social, environmental and economic benefits.

The Judging Panel concluded that the DPD comprises outstanding, exemplary work and were delighted to confirm that the entry should also be awarded best in region for 2024.

Visit our Net Zero Planning Policy Hub to read more about who is going further and how.

1 year on from implementation – Cornwall Council’s ambitious Sustainable Energy and Construction Policy

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