Positive approach to planning is unsustainable

16th August 2011


Construction

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IEMA

Environment groups have lambasted the government's proposed approach to planning as not providing sufficient protection for the UK's green spaces.

The draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) cuts 1,000 pages of complex policy to just 56 pages of top-level guidance. At its centre is the government’s concept of a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

It makes economic growth crucial to sustainability, arguing that “without growth, a sustainable future cannot be achieved”. The framework clearly states that local authorities must take a positive approach to planning, with the default position being to “approve all individual proposals wherever possible”.

In launching a 12-week consultation on the NPPF, planning minister Greg Clark argued that the framework provides adequate protection for the natural environment, but others criticised the government’s pro-growth approach.

Friends of the Earth described the framework as a “developers’ charter” and Dame Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, warned that the proposed changes would turn the planning system on its head.

While welcoming the proposals for a more streamlined planning system, IEMA agreed that questions remain about what the government views as sustainable development.

“There is a clear emphasis being placed on the approval of planning applications, with the risk that environment impacts will continue to be traded off against the potential for economic and social gains,” said executive director of policy Martin Baxter.

The CBI, however, said the NPPF shows that environmental sustainability is compatible with economic growth.


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