Froglife's Liam Atherton urges supporters to challenge the new National Policy Framework.
"The Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework has been condemned by conservationists UK wide. In a desperate attempt to promote economic recovery, radical reforms to planning policy have been proposed that simply do not have enough provision for the conservation of our precious green spaces and wildlife.
The main point of contention is the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, which in essence shifts the default response of a planning application to “Yes”. This may have profound repercussions for the two-thirds of rural England that are currently outside of areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks. No longer will developers be forced to justify why they should be allowed to develop an area, the onus will now be shifted to individuals, communities and NGOs to prove why it should not be- a colossal task at a national level.
As the Chairman of The National Trust, Simon Jenkins, reminds us bluntly, “The only sustainable meadow is a meadow. Sustainable development is a contradiction in terms. It means development.” He also goes on to highlight some basic, but telling figures. “The words development and business occur in the bill 340 times, the word countryside just four.”
The plans, which will see the harmonised rubbing of developer’s hands nationwide, reduces 1,000 pages of existing planning policy to just 52 pages. Combined with the coalition’s inclusion of every environment and wildlife law in a list of “Red Tape” legislation that need amended or scrapped completely, the protection of our natural heritage does not seem to be high on the agenda.
As an indication of the gravity of the current situation, the National Trust- for the first time in its history- is set to mobilise its 3.6 million members against the Governments planning proposals. Individuals have been called to write to Eric Pickles, the local government secretary responsible for drafting the new policy, as well as local MPs, and the National Trust has initiated an online petition. Even National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins can concede that planning is too slow and needs updating. However Froglife is united with The National trust and conservationists nationally in a common belief- that this is not the answer."
- The draft policy framework is open for public consultation and may be found here
- You can find out more about the National Trust's campaign and sign the petition against the proposals here
- There is also the ongoing 38 degrees petition against the “Red Tape” inclusion of wildlife and environmental legislation, which may be found here