Over the last few months, the government has been consulting with stakeholders on plans to update the National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF) in England. The insights of IEMA members on this consultation have been captured as part of the response made by the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF). In this blog, Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Head of Policy, reflects on the key recommendations put forward by the EPF.
The scope of the consultation was wide-ranging, with views sought on how the planning framework in England can best facilitate sustainable development and deliver sufficient housing supply through to making effective use of land and enhancing the natural environment. With a total of 58 questions included, the EPF decided to focus its response in the areas where its partner organisaitons have most expertise, ensuring its input is most useful.
Part of the consultation focused on methodologies for undertaking carbon impact assessment through the local plan-making process. The EPF response highlights the need for clear and standardised guidance to enable local authorities across England to do this effectively.
Through its climate change and energy group, IEMA is currently developing a toolkit to aid local authorities in undertaking carbon assessments, and we expect this to be available in the spring. This will supplement the updated impact assessment GHG guidance published by IEMA in February 2022.
On land use, the EPF response highlights how the NPPF should better consider the conservation and sustainable reuse of soils that will be displaced by development proposals, as well as the loss of agricultural land. This is another area where IEMA has published guidance with the aim of maintaining a focus on the protection and maintenance of the important ecosystem functions of soils.
Other areas covered by the EPF response include the role of the planning system in supporting climate change adaptation. The insights here are centred around the need to encourage habitat creation and nature recovery. This includes ensuring that new biodiversity net gain requirements (coming into force in November) are successfully implemented.
The response also highlights the ongoing need to develop and nurture the environmental professionals that interface with the NPPF and strive to make sure that it is working within the best interests of the natural environment.
A link to the EPF response can be found here.
By way of background, the Environmental Policy Forum is a membership group established to provide the opportunity for collaboration, learning, dialogue, and debate amongst professionals across the environmental disciplines.
Posted on 6th March 2023
Written by Ben Goodwin
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