This blog, prompted helpfully by reader Richard Wilson, attempted to spell out why the government’s proposed planning reforms are bad news for wildlife (click here but do read the comments as well as the blog). I don’t know how good a job I made of it but I haven’t found anything much better on the websites of our nature conservation organisations. However, it is worth looking at what each of the main organisations that deal with nature conservation, and some others, are saying on the subject.
National Trust – are clearly against the NPPF! They ask you to sign their petition, write to your MP and make your views known. There is a lot about people and places but nothing very obvious on nature and wildlife (I looked for longer than most people would but didn’t scour every NT word to find one about wildlife)
Wildlife Trusts – are clearly against the NPPF! I was glad to see this as I couldn’t find anything a few days ago. There is a clear statement about the threats to local wildlife sites, the lack of mention of the Nature Improvement Areas and a call to remove the primacy of development from the policy.
RSPB – are clearly against the NPPF! They don’t think it’s all bad – but they do think it is a danger to wildlife in the wider countryside and probably on SSSIs (read Simon Marsh’s interesting comments here). This latter point is very important. SSSIs don’t have complete protection – hardly anything does – so the worrying ‘presumption in favour of [sustainable] development’ may well tilt protection away from them (as hinted at, but not clearly spelled out I’m afraid, in the comments on this blog on 9 September). The RSPB would like you to respond to the government consultation on this issue.
CPRE – are against the NPPF! You’d expect them to be and they are. They want you to respond to the government consultation too.
Friends of the Earth – are against the NPPF! It’s not very obvious why they are against it but they are determinedly against it.
Greenpeace – doesn’t do this sort of thing, and that’s fine ‘cos they do lots of other really good things.
WWF – doesn’t do this sort of thing either.
Of these seven organisations, five are against the NPPF and two aren’t involved with the subject. Each of the five has slightly different reasons for objecting, and that’s fine. But it is clear that the two primary wildlife conservation organisations, RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, are pretty sure that the government’s (the coalition government’s) plans are bad for wildlife. So that is pretty clear.
Does Natural England have anything to say on this subject? Not that I can see – that’s the way it is these days.
Maybe we shall hear something from the Labour Party at the Conference next week? Or have they swallowed all this guff about homes for poor people and planning being a brake on growth? Who is the Shadow CLG Secretary? It’s Caroline Flint and she has been saying some good things on this subject recently.
So, there is a well-informed coalition of views against the NPPF. I wonder what stunts they have planned for the Tory Party Conference the week after next?
But wait! What’s this? Simon Jenkins, the Chair of the National Trust (see above) writes in the Evening Standard that he’s had a little tour around north Kent and thinks it would make a good site for an airport! It’s a bit of a wilderness apparently and that’s just the type of place we need more concrete.
Now Simon Jenkins has a living to make but quite how he can lead the National Trust on a campaign to save the countryside and write in favour of losing a wilderness I really don’t know. I have no doubt that NT staff are furious at this latest blunder by their Chair (he has previous). I wonder what Dame Fiona thinks of the position that her Chair has put their organisation? It will be much more difficult for the National Trust to talk to government on this subject now – their Chair has made the organisation look foolish.
I wonder how the National Trust petition is getting along? And I wonder how big might be the petition to oust the Chairman?