After an eventful consultation period the consultation deadline for the Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) arrived on Monday 17th October.
Over the 12 weeks the debate got heated on all sides, from the government, the business lobby and environmental groups as for the first time planning grabbed the headlines and got really rather exciting! There was mud slinging on either side – including when Greg Clark accused the National Trust of ‘nihilistic selfishness’, which rebutted that the Government had ‘put short term financial gain ahead of everything else’. Luckily a basket of scones helped them kiss and make up!
Thanks to everyone who took part in our campaign, as always we really appreciate your support! We campaigned on the issues that are most important to us and our members; the protection of ancient trees and woods and promoting tree planting and woodland creation. More than 6,000 of you responded to our poll alone, and it’s clear that the majority agree that irreplaceable habitats like our remaining ancient woodland should be afforded real protection through the planning system, minus the existing loophole. Although Bob Neill MP, expressed a mistaken concern that we were wrong to suggest the NPPF put ancient woodland and ancient trees at risk, we know they will remain under constant threat until that loophole is removed. We also campaigned on the important issues of defining ‘sustainable development’ and the risk involved with the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
A special “thank you!” to everyone who wrote to or visited their MPs. We very much enjoyed reading their responses, these were very useful in gauging opinion and informing our submission which you can find here, please do have a read. Our submission was written with help from experts from around the Woodland Trust and reflects the full depth of our concerns whilst giving positive recommendations for change.
So what next? The Government’s consultation period has closed but we shall not be resting on our laurels. We shall be watching the ongoing debates in parliament and monitoring any further developments. The Government is aiming to publish the NPPF ahead of the March 31st deadline, in the meantime we shall keep you updated on its progress.
Victoria Bankes Price – Planning Advisor