Draft revised National Planning Policy Framework
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and provides guidance for planners on developers. From a natural environment perspective this includes how priority habitats, species and protected sites should be protected from development and how the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural environment, providing net gains for biodiversity.
From March to May 2018, the Government are consulting on a revised version of the NPPF. This follows publication of the Housing White Paper, setting out the policy changes to element these proposals.
The draft revised NPPF responds to the 25 Year Environment Plan, building on the goals it sets out for environmental gains and supporting these with some policy drivers. Providing net gains for biodiversity and establishing coherent ecological networks that are resilient to future pressures are a requirement of planning policies and decisions. The wider benefits of natural capital need to be recognised and enhancement of these needs to be planned across a catchment or landscape scale regardless of local authority boundaries. There is increased recognition of the role of green infrastructure, with inclusion of this within strategic policy requirements. There is also reference to the role green infrastructure can play in improving air quality and creating resilience to climate change.
Irreplaceable habitats including ancient woodlands and aged or veteran trees are now specifically listed within the hierarchy of protection but there is no mention of existing environmental assets such as Local Wildlife Sites and nature reserves which are absent from the list of assets of importance. There is also no policy support for implementation of a nature recovery network, which is a key aspect of the 25 Year plan.
There is acknowledgement of the three elements of sustainable development; economic, social and environment and that these are interdependent and need to be pursued in mutually supportive ways driving net gains across each objective.
There is also increased emphasis on healthy communities and specifically how green infrastructure can be utilised to support healthy lifestyles.
NEENP welcome that Local Nature Partnerships continue to be recognised as key relevant body with which Local Planning Authorities should engage with and collaborate when developing Local Plans.
The consultation is running until 10 May 2018 and can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NPPFconsultation