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Colleagues who are using LES as a best practice model within their organisation.

Jim Alford

Jim AlfordAssistant Director, Regulatory Services within Planning and Economic Regeneration Department at Sefton Council

Jim joined Sefton Council as Head of Development Control in November 1982. Today he is responsible for the regulatory work of the department. On the development control side that involves planning applications, appeals, public inquiries, planning enforcement and monitoring of developments. On the building control side, Jim works on a wide range of applications including safety at sports grounds and dangerous buildings.

Jim’s team have always worked closely with Environmental Protection - some of the most contentious projects have involved the open storage and processing of coal and scrap within the Port of Liverpool, where Regulatory Services have slowly but steadily achieved improvement in working practice and environmental impact.

In the future Jim hopes to continue to improve Sefton’s Regulatory Services Development Team to help those looking to carry out projects and to support sustainable development. To build on Sefton’s success as a Beacon Authority for air quality, he is keen to promote a low emission approach wherever possible by developing a more holistic and coherent strategy - one that is both understandable and helpful to developers and regulators. By using support from the LES Partnership Jim hopes to create a low emissions strategy policy document which will be given weight in planning decisions.

How have you used the LES model?

We are using the LES model to develop some really practical guidance for practitioners on how emissions associated with developments can be reduced or mitigated. We are at the start of the process and have involved colleagues from Environmental Protection and Transport Planning. We have found that all our colleagues are very positive about this approach and see LES as an ideal framework to build cooperation between our various functions to achieve reductions in emissions. Up to now we have held a number of brainstorming sessions to scope out firstly how we would use the LES model, this is where the idea for the Guidance was developed, and then what we would want to see included. These are currently being written up and we will be having a meeting shortly to finalise the structure of the document and organise its production. We are also considering setting up a number of subsidiary projects, that we could possibly recruit some local students to undertake looking for example at the economic or sustainability aspects of developing an LES for Sefton.

What are the benefits for a planner of taking this approach?

The LES approach provides a framework that can bring together various initiatives under the overall goal of reducing emissions, allowing each to be tailored so that they compliment each other and contribute towards the overall goal. It also supports and encourages cross sectoral working between teams and Departments with the LES providing a structure that makes it easy for people to see how their contribution can fit in and why it is important. The tools currently being developed by the LESDP will also greatly help in evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. The consistency of approach that comes from developing an LES will, I believe, also make it easier for developers to understand why initiatives are being proposed and to participate in their development.

Any advice for colleagues in Planning who are keen to adopt LES?

My advice would be to contact colleagues in other sectors, particularly environmental protection and transport, and get them onside as soon as possible as to be successful it has to be a joint exercise; having said that I would strongly recommend the process as something that can bring real benefits.

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