By Laura Brook
We need you to take action and respond to the Government’s Planning White Paper – the biggest shake-up of the planning system since the Second World War.
Engaging with the planning system already forms a huge part of our work to stand up for wildlife in Sussex. We demand polices that protect and enhance biodiversity and we push back against development allocations that compromise our natural environment. The Government’s Planning White Paper intends to simplify the current planning process to speed up development – and this will put nature, and nature’s recovery, at risk.
The Government’s aim is to put all land into one of three categories (growth areas, renewal areas or protected areas) and to speed things up by granting automatic permission for development in areas deemed suitable. But there is very little detail on how these areas will be assigned and we’re concerned that the proposed online system will be driven primarily by desktop data. This will not paint an accurate picture and will fail to protect wildlife. It’s vital that every stage of planning and decision making is informed by up-to-date ecological data, on-the-ground surveys and expert knowledge. Any changes to the planning system should also complement the much-needed commitments coming forward in the new Environment Bill and Defra’s 25 year Environment Plan, so that the planning system will create a resilient and sustainable future rather than focusing solely on housing numbers.
It's highly likely that these reforms will happen, so we need to do everything we can to improve the proposals and make sure the Government understands that people need nature on their doorstep.
We need a planning system that’s fit for a wilder future, so we’ve set out five principles to ensure nature and people are fully integrated into the proposed planning reforms:
- Wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature must be at the heart of planning reform. A Nature Recovery Network should underpin local plans and inform the identification of growth, renewal and protected areas
- Nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and environmental impacts must be fully assessed before any development is permitted
- We want to see a new Wildbelt designation to protect areas of degraded land that are in recovery
- Local people must be able to engage with the planning system and have all the information they need to understand the local impacts of any proposed development
- All planning decisions must be based on robust, accurate, detailed and thorough ecological information