Campaigners warn planning system is ‘destroying nature RSPB has called for urgent reforms to the planning system,

The RSPB has called for urgent reforms to the planning system, arguing it is failing to protect nature in its current form.

By the time projects get to the drawing board, many key decisions have already been made.

That's why we seek to influence both national planning policies and the way the planning system operates. We want to ensure that sustainable development – including effective environmental protection and enhancement – is at the heart of the planning system.

Planning is a devolved activity in the UK and so there is a different planning system in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can find out more details about each country by following the links from this page.

The charity said the system is squeezing nature out and being damaged further by the sheer volume of applications.

Research by the RSPB found 85% of 422,000 planning applications were approved by local authorities in England between 2009-2020. Of the 98 Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects applications, only four have been refused and one partially refused.

A snapshot of the data taken in July 2021 shows over 8,000 planning applications located within 500 methres of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Alice Hardiman, RSPB England’s head of policy, said: 'Our current planning system is broken. Swamped by sheer numbers of applications and with loopholes that pepper the system, allowing developers to weave around conditions meant to protect nature. And what protection for nature there is, has been watered down.

'Applications shouldn’t be viewed in isolation but need to be assessed as part of a wider picture with the cumulative effects of decisions being considered. This is not currently being done and consequently both people and wildlife are losing out. The places, sights and sounds that we love are disappearing.'

The report – Losing What We Love: How planning is affecting our wildlife – sets out eight ways the planning system could be improved to better support nature’s recovery.

This includes introducing a new planning designation to safeguard land for nature’s recovery and reintroducing an effective ‘larger than local’ tier of planning.

The planning system in Wales was recently reformed via the Planning (Wales) Act 2015).

Planning in Wales

The planning system in Wales was recently reformed via the Planning (Wales) Act 2015).

The reforms included strengthening the plan-led approach through the new National Development Framework and Strategic Development Plans, as well as introducing some changes to the development management system, such as introducing a statutory pre-application procedure for certain categories of planning application.

They also insert a statutory sustainable development purpose to planning and development control functions of public bodies including the Welsh Ministers and local planning authorities. 

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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