THE RSPB has said it welcomes the unveiling of new planning guidance which addresses concerns raised by the public and environmental groups.
The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), announced on Tuesday, March 27, contains a definition of sustainable development which will ensure local authorities can plan for vital homes, jobs and transport links without causing damage to wildlife and countryside.
Steve Gilbert, RSPB conservation programme manager in the south east said: “While we and many others raised fears over the direction the original draft of the NPPF was taking us, it is clear ministers have listened to our concerns and taken them on board.
“We have always supported the idea of simplifying the planning system to make it less cumbersome and bureaucratic – but this must not happen at the expense of our environment. A healthy environment is essential for a healthy economy and the planning system is there to ensure the needs of people, business and nature are all met.
“Across Sussex we have some stunning countryside and protected habitats that genuinely benefit wildlife and people. This new planning system will help the Government deliver on its promises to promote growth, halt the loss of biodiversity and enhance our natural environment.
“Sustainable development is all about making sure we protect the environment for future generations alongside development. This couldn’t be more relevant than in the densely populated south east of England, where our environment and natural resources face growing pressures.”
The RSPB’s concerns that protection for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was set to be weakened in the original draft of the NPPF appear to have been allayed. Early indications are that the new rules will protect SSSIs – meaning a better future for vital wildlife sites across England.