Proposed new planning laws a threat to wildlife

Friday 7th October 2011

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is concerned that a proposed overhaul of England’s existing planning system will leave vital wildlife sites with no protection and put the economic aims of the planning system ahead of its environmental commitments.

The Government has set out a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to simplify and consolidate planning policy in England. Whilst The Wildlife Trusts support the principle of policy consolidation, we believe that the current proposals go too far.

The planning process has a vital role to play in safeguarding the future of our wildlife and Suffolk’s environment. The Trust offers local ecological expertise and advice to Suffolk’s planning authorities and responds to over 600 planning application consultations a year.

“We believe the land-use planning system is fundamental to securing nature’s recovery. The Government’s Natural Environment White Paper, published in June 2011, emphasised the economic and social value of the natural environment and the need for a landscape-scale approach to secure nature’s recovery. However, the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is dominated by a weighting in favour of economic growth,” says SWT’s conservation planner James Meyer.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is urging Government to make the following changes:

  • Remove the primacy given to economic development in the draft NPPF and reinstate the importance of the natural environment
  • Require local plans to identify Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs). The Natural Environment White Paper introduced the concept of NIAs: large areas where nature’s restoration would have greater priority. Land use planning will be critical to achieving NIAs and yet they have no mention in the draft NPPF
  • Protect Local Wildlife Sites – there are 925 Local Wildlife Sites in Suffolk. Having had some protection to date through planning, these sites would no longer have specific protection.

The planning system is vital for protecting important wildlife sites and identifying where the potential exists to restore habitats and ecosystems. A change to Government policy on this issue is essential to safeguard the future of Suffolk’s wildlife.

We would urge people to take part in the consultation or write to their MP by visiting http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/nppf and following the links.

Tagged with: Planning