Our initial reaction to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The Government have ignored the threat to ancient woodland and retained the loop hole in the NPPF.
The NPPF states:
118. planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss;
After 18 months of campaigning we are very disappointed with this result. Especially as when polled, 81% of MPs supported giving ancient woodland greater protection.
There are however a few glimmers of hope. It appears that the worst excess of the consultation draft are gone. The blunt instrument which was the ‘default yes to development’ has been done away with. The definition of sustainable development has also been strengthened with the welcome inclusion of the five principles set out in the UKs Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future.
These however are only small rays of hope in a document that remains intrinsically pro growth, putting the environment second place. It is a sad day for ancient woodland as the planning system continues to fail it.
Watch this space; there will be a more detailed analysis to come as we have time to fully digest the NPPF and its implications for woods and trees.
Victoria Bankes Price, planning adviser