The group just received the following reply from James Heappey MP to our email about the weakening of the protection under the Habitats Regulations.
“Thank you for contacting me about proposed planning reform and the impact this will have on habitat regulation.
At the heart of planning are the homes we live in, the schools our children go to and the parks and green spaces we visit. While our planning system works well in some areas, it is clear it does not work as it should. There is too much bureaucracy, too little engagement with local communities and too much advantage is afforded to large property developers to the detriment of small businesses and even our communities.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will improve environmental outcomes. It will reform the process used to assess the potential environmental effects of relevant plans and major projects through a requirement to prepare Environmental Outcome Reports. This will put protecting our environment and pursuing environmental improvements at the foreground of assessments. The legislation would also see greater weight given to local plans and national policy which will give more assurance that areas of environmental importance, including national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be respected in decisions on planning applications and appeals.
I also understand that ministers intend to undertake a review of the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure the reformed planning system can effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change and maximise environmental benefits. The framework has already been updated with a stronger focus on creating beautiful buildings and homes and includes a new expectation that all new streets are tree-lined, alongside measures to improve biodiversity and access to nature through design.
Furthermore, as part of a wider effort to reward environmental land management, the Environmental Land Management scheme is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy.
I will raise this with my colleagues and the relevant Ministers when I am next able.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
James Heappey MP
Member of Parliament for Wells and Minister for the Armed Forces
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 0207 219 2073 | Email: email@example.com”