The Government and Wildlife
Friday 30th March 2012
Heather flowering by BBOWT
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), announced just after the Budget and which has immediate effect across the English planning system, puts the responsibility for protecting wildlife sites from development on local councils and local communities.
Matt Jackson, Head of Conservation at the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust welcomed the NPPF. “It is much more acceptable to conservation organisations than the draft version published last year. The Government intends to plan positively for wildlife and the natural environments, but the threats of development on Local Wildlife Sites are still there if councils don’t include them in their local plans.
“It’s now up to communities and councils to help secure nature’s recovery by embedding policies in their Local and Neighbourhood Plans, and create vital ecological networks that protect important local wildlife sites and species.”
Many local authorities won’t have Local or Neighbourhood Plans ready yet, so the Government has allowed 12 months for them to be created. The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust continues to work with and advise local councils on planning for wildlife. Read more about our Planning work.
The Government’s threat to weaken the level of protection of important wildlife-rich habitats, such as the Thames Basin Heaths and Chiltern Beechwoods, has been reduced.
Thanks to strong lobbying by The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations, the Government’s Review of the Habitats & Birds Directives, which protect important species and the places where they thrive, has concluded that, in the vast majority of cases, they do not hold back development or put an excessive burden on businesses.
The Law Society is carrying out a review of the way the Directives are implemented, so the Wildlife Trusts will continue to be vigilant to ensure there is no weakening of environmental protection.