Letter: Planning for the Future White Paper: less protection for nature

10th October 2020

Letter published West Sussex County Times October 1 2020

Sir

‘Planning for the future White Paper’: less protection than now for nature

Referring to the “stark challenges” laid out in David Attenborough’s documentary, ‘Extinction: The Facts’, Andrew Griffith MP (Arun & South Downs) recognises the need to protect biodiversity, advising that “we have to make sure that the planning system protects ‘green corridors’ for wildlife to move through the landscape and for natural processes to operate effectively” (WSCT 17/09/20).

Unfortunately, draconian changes to the planning system now being proposed by the Government in its ‘Planning for the Future, White Paper’ (consultation closes 29 October) would if implemented provide less protection than the current system and result in considerable harm being done to the natural environment, including significant loss of biodiversity, as is made clear by the just released ‘The Wildlife Trusts’ preliminary analysis of the Planning White Paper’.

For example: proposed Growth, Renewal and Protected Areas:

  • “provide no mechanism for nature’s recovery and three ways in which nature can be destroyed: by being automatically discounted in the Growth area, overwhelmed in the Renewal area and unprotected in the Protected area”,
  • “removal of the requirement to undertake site-specific surveys”, and therefore the need for accurate and up to date information, when determining and designating areas of development “could mean impacts on nature are not fully assessed, therefore not avoided, or mitigated”,
  • “proposals do not address the climate and ecological emergencies”,
  • “no explanation is given on how planning will contribute to the enhancement of nature, beyond tenuous nods to net gain’, and
  • there is “a presumption that the international, national and local protections we have are all we need for nature. This fails to recognise that many of our protected sites are in unfavourable condition and even if these weren’t, these alone will not support nature’s recovery. Nature is in freefall – we need more space for it”.

Mr Griffith and all who have concerns for nature and the natural environment really must read the ‘The Wildlife Trusts’ preliminary analysis of the Planning White Paper’ – and respond to the White Paper consultation. Consultation closes 28 October.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex