Thank you for contacting me about planning reform and wildlife protection.
Our natural heritage and local wildlife should be protected, and I am encouraged that the planning reforms promote the stewardship and improvement of our precious countryside and environment. The White Paper makes clear that the intention is to preserve and enhance important natural assets, encourage the advancement of new green infrastructure and maximise the development potential of suitable brownfield land.
Protected areas under the proposals include the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and local wildlife sites. The reforms will also look at making changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure the reformed planning system can effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change and maximise environmental benefits. New homes under the Future Homes Standard will also be ‘zero carbon ready’, with the ability to become fully zero carbon homes over time as the electricity grid decarbonises.
The consolidation of the sustainability tests is designed to avoid duplication, while simultaneously maintaining a robust and thorough process. That is why national and local level data, made available to authorities, communities and applicants in digital form, should make it easier to reuse and update information. The new system will need to ensure that we take advantage of opportunities for environmental improvements while also meeting our domestic and international obligations for environmental protection and tackling climate change.
At the heart of the planning reform is the new rules-based approach to local planning. By requiring a high degree of engagement in creating local plans, it will democratise these plans that then set clear rules for development and allow greater focus to be placed on design quality at the local level.
I know the Government is committed to enhancing protections for our precious environment, as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan. The framework reinforces environmental protections, including by requiring local authorities to improve biodiversity, and that way improving air quality. I am confident that the national framework will protect our local wildlife sites as well the animals like bats that habit them for decades to come.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.