Nature Recovery Green Paper and Planning

Apex Nature Recovery Green Paper

The Government’s nature recovery green paper could have some ramifications for planning and development, as local authorities ensure that environmental issues are at the heart of planning policy…

Nature Recovery Green Paper

The government’s nature recovery green paper could have an impact on planning and housing, as councils call for support in the planning process in protecting both green and blue spaces.

The green paper, published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Natural England (DEFRA), suggests a number of proposals that will help the government meet its international commitments to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030.

In response to the paper, Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Ensuring that environmental protection is at the heart of planning policy is a priority for all local authorities.’’

Scientific Interest

The paper proposes a new system designed to help protect both Britain’s vulnerable sites and species and would see designations such as Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) overlapping on some nature sites in a bid to increase protection.

It also proposes to create or restore more than 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat that at present is outside protected sites by 2042, as well as increasing England’s tree canopy and woodland cover from 14.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent of total land area by 2050.

In its response to the consultation, the Royal Town Planning Institute said it was concerned about the loss of the term “scientific interest” and considered that it should be very clear why sites are “protected” and what the aims for their maintenance and improvement are. It added: “SSSIs are not limited to sites of biological interest, and it is important that other aspects of scientific interest such as geology and geomorphology are not forgotten.’’ It also pointed out that there must be “careful discussion with the relevant other governments regarding how this works in shared settings such as the Severn and Tweed catchments. We doubt that Scotland or Wales will be moving away from the EU model.’’

Environment Act

Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said that councils are “at the heart of driving positive change in their communities. The Environment Act 2021 and the targets set out will mean councils take on a new relationship and responsibility for the environment, and it’s crucial that they have the support and resources to protect our blue and green spaces effectively.’’

Addressing the issues of planning, he added: “Ensuring that environmental protection is at the heart of planning policy is a priority for all local authorities. There are no easy answers and solutions need to be tailored to each area. Government can help by working with councils to review housing targets, where this is appropriate, and the LGA and the Planning Advisory Service will work with councils to find solutions, and we support the additional funding for catchment areas.’’

He also stated that local development plans are the key to successful and sustainable growth and that there must also be a focus on improving water quality and reducing pollution at source.

He concluded that the LGA is “seeking a position within the Ministerial taskforce on this issue, to help the government deliver on a plan that works for all.”

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