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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down, wreaking havoc on health and jobs. As a result, many of us are spending far more time at home – prompting traffic levels to drop, along with air pollution and carbon emissions. Restrictions on travel and movement mean roads are now being used more by walkers and cyclists.
COVID-19 is causing widespread disruption to the UK planning system, which is there to ensure that the development and use of land is in the public interest. Recent legislation gave councils new powers to change the way they take planning decisions. This could undermine the public voice in planning and calls into question levels of transparency and democratic oversight of planning decisions.
All of us – including children and vulnerable people – are having to frequently step into the road to follow the 2m rule, as most pavements are too narrow to pass safely. We’re also being encouraged to walk and cycle more as lockdown eases.
New research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change has shown that daily global carbon emissions fell by 17% in early April 2020 compared to 2019, with full-year 2020 emissions set to decrease by up to 7%, depending on further social distancing.
“It is especially important now, as we plan for a future after the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic, that the UK invests in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure. A new runway at Heathrow is the opposite of what we need to be building.” Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth
Climate action ‘central’ to rebuilding economy, say government advisers – Friends of the Earth reaction
Reacting to today’s letter to the Prime Minister from the Committee on Climate Change calling for a “green” package of measures to rebuild the economy, Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said:
Reacting to today’s study, which says that investing in green measures to boost economies post-pandemic will create more jobs and better financial returns, Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth said:
Campaigners welcome plans to pedestrianise Deansgate and call on Government to relax side-road zebra crossing rules
Manchester Friends of the Earth welcomes the plans announced by Manchester City Council to pedestrianise part of Deansgate and to create extended footways in other busy areas of Manchester, and calls on the Government to allow councils to install side-road zebra crossings without expensive Belisha beacons. 
Crossing roads can be a lottery at the best of times, never mind if you have limited vision or mobility. But there’s a simple way to make our neighbourhoods safer for everyone - implied zebra crossings.
Temporary cycling and walking space won't only help people get their daily exercise safely, but will allow key workers to cycle to work, whether they are hospital staff, care workers, or others providing vital services. Please let your council know how much this is needed, why it's important in your area, and how easy it is to do.
COVID-19 is causing widespread disruption to the UK planning system, which is there to ensure that the development and use of land is in the public interest. How can the right of the public to hold local decision-makers to account (and scrutinise plans for development) be protected during these difficult times?