Climate Action and the Local Authority Development Plan


Climate Action and the Local Authority Development Plan

Start Date:

June 2021

End Date:

December 2021

Research partner/host:

MaREI Centre, Environmental Research Institute, UCC, Ireland

Funding Body:

Office of the Planning Regulator, Science Foundation Ireland

Project Partners:

Office of the Planning Regulator

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Brian Ó Gallachóir, School of Engineering – Energy Engineering, University College Cork, Ireland

Research Area:

Local Authority Climate Action, Climate Policy, Climate Mitigation Planning


Under Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, the role of the local authority has been greatly expanded. The introduction of Local Authority Climate Action Plans will further enhance local authorities’ ability to lead, engage, coordinate, and become agents of change in response to the ongoing climate change crisis. Guidelines, training and supports on the adaptation dimension of climate action planning are currently well developed relative to the mitigation dimensions of climate action.

Local Authorities have made some progress with energy efficiency improvements in public buildings and developing climate adaptation plans. However, beyound this, local authority progress on climate mitigation has been limited. The new statutory requirement in the 2021 Climate Act presents an opportunity to strengthen local authority climate mitigation planning and develop better coordination between local authorities to ensure our emissions reduction goals. Another key element of the new legislative requirement will be the interaction between development plans and the new climate action plans.

At the request of the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) this research project explores the inclusion of climate mitigation in county/city development plans to date.


This project offers insights into the challenges Local Authorities (LAs) face in fulfilling the new climate action planning requirements and highlight aspects of existing Development Plans that include climate mitigation measures. This is achieved firstly by reviewing emerging and existing examples of how LAs have incorporated and integrated Renewable Energy Strategies and other climate mitigation measures into their development plans, secondly identifying ‘pathfinder’ local authorities before thirdly engaging with these ‘pathfinder’ examples in order to gather reflections on their learnings. The learnings and recommendations from this research are published in a Case Study Paper, which provides useful guidance to support the development of the new Local Authority Climate Action Plans (LACAP) ministerial guidelines, future work in LAs to create CAPs, and the ongoing preparation/review of City and County Development Plans.

Work Packages

The central focus of the project is to prepare a research report covering:

  • An outline of the current legislative framework informing the development and incorporation of climate mitigation into LA Development Plans
  • Development of a framework to assess current local authority climate mitigation planning in LA Development Plans
  • A high-level review of development plans and selection of pathfinders who demonstrate leadership in climate mitigation planning
  • An analysis of the pathfinder local authorities that promote climate mitigation through sustainable settlement and transport strategies, energy demand reductions, renewable energy strategies and other anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions reductions in line with their existing obligations under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010
  • Engagement with pathfinder local authorities to draw out empirical insights exploring the motivations, practical steps taken, and challenges faced by those involved in climate mitigation planning at local level
  • An outline of methodologies and approaches currently being used to generate a local authority baseline emissions inventory

Publications & Outputs

Local Authority training sessions

  • 12th November 2021, OPR Local Authority and Regional Assembly Staff Training, Alex and Connor delivered a presentation “Climate Action and the Local Authority Development Plan”, slides available at here.
  • 29th October 2021, OPR Councilor Training, Alex and Connor delivered a presentation “Emerging Good Practice on Climate Action in Development Plans”, recording of the session here. and slides available here.


Team Members Outside MaREI

Barry O’Dywer (MaREI Alumni)

Barry led the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation group at MaREI. For a decade, Barry led the development and delivery of the EPA-funded Climate Ireland Programme, the nationally recognised source of information for local and sectoral adaptation decision-making.


Dr. Mary Noll Venables (Masters Student in Planning and Sustainable Development)

Mary is a second-year student at UCC’s Centre for Planning Education and Research. Her professional interests focus on encouraging spatial equity and climate justice, facilitating community consultation and promoting active travel. Prior to studying planning, Mary completed a PhD in early modern European history at Yale University. She has taught in the United States, Germany and Ireland.