Rural Lens review on Mission Zero – Independent review of Net Zero

The Rural Services Network has published its Rural Lens review of the Mission Zero – Independent review by Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP which was released in January 2023.

Mission Zero, makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes. Every one is designed to maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs – all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Rural Services Network’s thoughts on Mission Zero Independent Review, Net Zero by Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP:

  • The rural context must be fully reflected in all of the policy considerations set out in the recommendations. Decisions, including in respect of implementation, must be fully rural proofed.
  • The Land Use Framework must be fully integrated into the spatial planning system and NPPF.  It must not focus just on land management issues related to environmental protection, farming, food production and biodiversity.  It should take full account of the requirements that communities have for housing, economic activity, recreation, and community activities.
  • It is not just about “Funds”. We have huge concerns about the plethora of different funding streams which are required to be ‘bid for’ – especially given the capacity of rural local authorities. Mainstream government funding support for local government has for decades, and remains, grossly unfair.
  • It is paramount that trailblazer projects also cover rural and coastal areas, indeed they should cover different types of rural areas.
  • In most rural areas public transport simply is not available to enable travel to work, education/training or to meet other transport needs. In fact, in very many rural areas across England there is little or no public transport. As a result, car ownership remains essential in rural areas (despite car ownership costs) – indeed many rural households will need to have 2 or 3 cars as household members will need to travel in different directions to work etc.
  • The Government’s long awaited Bus Strategy for Rural Areas should be published as soon as possible. Rural public transport authorities need much more financial support from the Government to enable improvements in bus services. Very little financial support came the way of rural councils from the recent Bus Service Improvement Plan Funding.
  • We feel the report, unfortunately, misses the mark when understanding the practicalities and the challenges of decarbonising rural and off-gas grid heat. In both residential and non-residential buildings.
  • The recommendations do not consider the fact that fabric modifications, most certainly needed for older and less energy efficient housing, will increase the cost of installation for heat pumps, making them prohibitively expensive for rural home and business owners.
  • We have long argued that the Government should adopt a ‘fabric-first’ strategy with increased funding available in rural areas (and elsewhere) to support measures such as home insulation and other energy efficiency measures.
  • In pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach, we are disappointed that the Net Zero Review overlooks the role of alternative renewable fuels.

You can read the full Rural Lens Review by clicking on the image below:


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.