COUNCILS across Hampshire have been urged to introduce climate change plans.

Southampton City Council, Fareham Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council and Test Valley Borough Council are among the 100 local authorities across England which have been told that they will violate their legal obligations and risk legal challenge if they do not introduce proper climate change plans.

The  news comes as lawyers from ClientEarth are writing to each local authority that is currently developing a new local plan, giving them eight weeks to explain how they will set evidence-based carbon reduction targets and ensure these targets are then central to their new planning policy.

The charity of international lawyers said it launched the campaign in light of a shortfall in compliant local planning policy across the country and to advise authorities of their legal duties under planning and environmental law.

ClientEarth climate lawyer Sam Hunter Jones said: “So many of the daily decisions around new and existing infrastructure – such as new buildings, roads and utilities – are made at the local level. All of these decisions will ‘lock in’ an area’s future emissions and its resilience to climate change.

"Scientists warn that we have 10 years to transform our economies and avoid catastrophic climate change, but decisions that will have ramifications for decades are being made now.”

Local authorities across the country have declared climate emergencies and announced local carbon reduction targets.

As reported, in June Southampton City Council also launched its Green City Charter in a bid to tackle air pollution.

Lawyers said that for carbon targets to be meaningful, they need to be incorporated into local planning policy as a core objective against which all other policies and decisions will be tested. Local planning authorities also need to monitor performance against local targets at least annually.

“Each and every planning decision taken today must be in line with long-term climate goals, because what and how we build today will determine our climate impact and resilience in the crucial decades to come,” Hunter Jones said.

Southampton City Council, Fareham Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council and Test Valley Borough Council were approached for comment.