UK Planning reforms are a threat to wildlife
Have your say and help rewild Britain!
The Government has proposed changes to the planning system in a new White Paper 'Planning for the Future'.
The Prime Minister described the proposals as “the most radical reforms” since the Second World War and made clear the intention to “tear it down and start again”.
The planning system should protect green spaces and enable wildlife to thrive, but the proposed new system could make things worse.
As it currently stands, the proposal fails to address climate change, the ecological emergency, and growing health inequalities.
Getting planning right is crucial if we are to see at least 30% of nature recovering by 2030.
What’s the problem?
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet.
Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species in the UK declined (WWF)
133 species have already been lost from our shores since 1500 (RSPB)
26% of UK mammal species at risk of disappearing altogether (RSPB)
The government has committed to reversing wildlife declines, but the proposed changes to the planning system will make things worse.
As the Planning White Paper proposals stand, The Wildlife Trusts’ key concerns are:
Failure to address the climate, ecological and health emergencies together
The new zones will not reverse nature’s decline nor integrate it into people’s lives
Nature will be automatically ignored and built over in the Growth area, overwhelmed by denser development in the Renewal area, and not actively helped in Protected areas - where wildlife is already struggling. Planning decisions should be informed by surveys of potential sites, not purely informed by zones. The zones fail to recognise that people need nature in their lives.
Inadequate nature data means that planners will make poor decisions about zones
The bias will be towards permitting new developments
Simplifying Environmental Impact Assessments, that are designed to save nature, where it still exists, will weaken environmental protections and threaten its ability to survive and recover.
Undermining the democratic process by reducing people’s opportunity to influence the planning process
The 'zoning' approach will mean decisions are made up-front leaving no option for communities to challenge harmful developments.
What’s the solution?
The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to commit to five principles to be applied to future planning - to ensure the reforms can address the climate and ecological crises and people’s need for nature around them.
The Wildlife Trusts’ five principles are:
1. Wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature must be put at the heart of planning reform by mapping a Nature Recovery Network
2. Nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and assessment of environmental impact must take place before development is permitted
3. Address the ecological and climate crises by protecting new land put into recovery by creating a new designation – Wildbelt
4. People and local stakeholders must be able to engage with the planning system
5. Decisions must be based on up-to-date and accurate nature data
What can you do?
The Wildlife Trusts will be responding to the Government consultation.
The Government have made it clear they are keen to hear “from individuals” and The Wildlife Trusts have made it easy for you to submit your views to the consultation too:
The deadline is 29 October 2020.
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