Holiday homes: Climate change and communities influence

By Netpal Travel Bureau

Climate change has become a serious threat to life.  The heat waves that have been experienced this summer reminded us that. The current media and political debates are too often focused on short-term solutions to the energy crisis. Any solutions to the energy crisis need to be positioned within the context of political interventions intended to decarbonise lifestyles and this requires an integrated approach.

Time is running out and all nations and communities are beginning to pay the price for failing to develop and implement realistic solutions to reducing activities that contribute to climate change. The price will be more heat waves, droughts, storms, and floods, but this price will also include food and water shortages.

In the UK, the planning system needs to be radically overhauled to ensure that all developments contribute to supporting carbon light lifestyles. There are many issues here including planning to create more local lifestyles.

There is an interesting tension between holidays and climate change. Holidaying must be decarbonised. This requires innovations that will decarbonise travel as well as more localised interventions. At a local level, we need alterations in current planning regulations and practices.

Holidaying closer to home is one solution to decarbonising holidays, but there are challenges here that need to be overcome. North Norfolk, for example, has the largest number of second homes anywhere in England and Wales outside London. In some of the most sought-after coastal villages more than half of available properties are second or holiday homes.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill includes some interventions intended to reduce the impacts of empty second homes on towns and villages. Nevertheless, there are tensions here in that second and holiday homes create direct, indirect, and induced localised economic impacts, but they also undermine local communities including distorting local property markets.

The impacts on local property markets are well-known with locals priced out by second homeowners.

For planning a key issue is to ensure that new developments are designed to meet the needs of the local community. For a village like Blakeney, for example, developers have been acquiring sites and then building large executive style houses designed to be sold as second homes or targeted at purchasers from beyond the local area. These executive style homes stand out in the village as being quite different from the existing housing stock. Planning should pay more attention to confirming that new housing is similar in scale to the existing housing stock and developers should contribute to support the needs of those with local birth ties.

There is another side to second and holiday homes that has been too often ignored. Temporary visitors to these communities need to be very aware of the problems that they create for residents. This includes parking, noise, and air pollution. Barbecues make localised contributions to air pollution with a typical summer barbecue for four people releasing more greenhouse gases than an 80-mile car journey.

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