UKELA concern over guidance
Members of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) have expressed unease over plans by the government to reform existing development guidance.
In its response to Defra’s smarter guidance and data consultation, UKELA says it has concerns that the proposed simplification exercise may go too far, resulting in important guidance either being lost or having doubt cast on its status.
Under the proposals, a large number of documents are to be either archived or rewritten and the current version archived. Many of these, argues UKELA, serve as important tools in the planning regime.
Although it assumes that the inclusion of the national planning policy framework (NPPF) in the list of documents to be archived is an error, the association says any proposal to archive or replace the NPPF, which it describes as fundamental to the operation of the planning system, should be subject to a separate consultation.
UKELA also warns that revising existing documents, such as the guidance relating to contaminated land exposure assessments, soil guideline values and CLR11 model procedures, will require significant resources.
“It is not apparent resources are available for rewriting (bearing in mind government budget cuts), the timeframe for rewriting, at what point the current versions will be archived, and how this will affect their status,” says the association.
It is demanding clarity on these matters to avoid uncertainty over the status of current documents, and to ensure that important guidance is not axed without new guidance being in place.
Defra’s plans to simplify environment guidance are due to be finalised by March.
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