Discounted, overwhelmed and forgotten – are we planning to fail nature?
Cheshire Wildlife Trust has launched a six-week campaign asking the public to challenge dramatic changes to the planning system including the creation of 'WIldbelt' land.
The move is a combined effort from The Wildlife Trusts and a coalition of environmental charities to ensure that nature is not forgotten under the new proposals in the Government white paper.
Under the proposed plans, land will be sorted into three different categories of ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protect’. The first two will see plans automatically approved whereas the latter will remain under the current system. The Trust has argued that this amounts to nature being ‘discounted, overwhelmed and forgotten.’
James Melling the Trust’s Campaigns Officer commented:
“Restoration of our wild space is vital if we are to tackle the current ecological crisis. These spaces need to be bigger, bolder and better connected. We welcome the possibility of reform to the planning system but we need this to be done in a way that works for nature.
Nature does not fit into three neat categories and the government’s plan relies on data that doesn’t yet exist. If the plans are to work, we will need to see significant levels of funding to help ensure that ecologically valuable land is correctly identified and that the whole system promotes nature’s recovery. We want change but this is not it.”
Reforms will also see a change to the way local residents and third parties are consulted. Under the new system, the public will be able to suggest what land should fit into which category but will not be consulted on developments that fall into either ‘growth’ or ‘renewal’ areas.
James Melling adds:
“It is vital that local people and organisations have a say in the planning process. Last year, Cheshire Wildlife Trust responded to dozens of applications to ensure that wildlife was accounted for. If the reforms go ahead as they are, we could see that development-specific safeguard disappear entirely.”
The consultation on the proposed planning reforms runs until the 29th Oct. Cheshire Wildlife Trust is calling on all members of the public to submit a response and voice any concerns to their councillors and local MP. More information can be found at http://wtru.st/do-not-fail-wildlife.