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Victory for wildlife after Government listens on planning reform

Last modified: 27 March 2012

New housing development at Canford Heath

The Government has listened to public concerns over planning reforms and has announced plans which will allow for growth while protecting wildlife.

The RSPB has welcomed the unveiling of new planning guidance today which addresses the concerns raised by the public and environmental groups.

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) contains a definition of sustainable development which will ensure local authorities can plan for vital homes, jobs and transport links without causing damage to our wildlife and countryside.

Fears allayed

The RSPB’s concerns that protection for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was set to be weakened in the original draft of the NPPF appear to have been allayed. Although full scrutiny of the wording in the document is needed, early indications are that the new rules will protect SSSIs – meaning a bright future for the network of thousands of vital wildlife sites across England.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “Today’s news is a victory for wildlife, a victory for people and a victory for a sustainable economy.

“While we and many others raised fears over the direction the original draft of the NPPF was taking us, it is clear ministers have listened to our concerns and taken them on board.

Meeting the needs of people, business and nature

“We have always supported the idea of simplifying the planning system to make it less cumbersome and bureaucratic – but this must not happen at the expense of our environment. A healthy environment is essential for a healthy economy and the planning system is there to ensure the needs of people, business and nature are all met.

“This new planning system will help the Government deliver on its promises to promote growth, halt the loss of biodiversity and enhance our natural environment.

“This issue has rightly faced high profile scrutiny and has been the subject of heated debate. It’s not the first time this Coalition Government has faced a potential public backlash over an environmental issue. From the controversy over the sale of public forestry to reviews of environmental protection such as the Habitats Regulations, the public have made their voices heard loud and clear.

Work effectively

“Let’s hope that after all these bruising debates ministers now have a better understanding of just how important the environment is to the people of this country.

“It is now vital that local authorities across England have up to date local plans in place to ensure that the reforms unveiled today work effectively on the ground protecting the environment whilst allowing responsible development to go ahead.”

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