24th Nov, 2020

Reform plans put natural habitat in peril says local wildlife trust

Ross Crawford 26th Sep, 2020

FEARS have been raised by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust over potential threats to the Nature under local government reform plans.

The charity says an analysis of the government’s White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ has revealed the proposed reforms will increase the threat to England’s natural world and do little to create better homes and communities for wildlife and people.

According to the trust, which runs the Parkridge Centre in Solihull, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet.

It says a successful planning system is crucial to securing the recovery of nature and communities with natural green space on people’s doorsteps, no matter how dense the housing.

The charity is urging the government to commit to five principles, applied to future planning, to ensure the reforms address the climate crisis and people’s need for nature around them.

This includes a protection for land designated to help nature’s recovery called ‘wildbelt’.

The trust’s’ five principles are:

– a nature recovery network mapped to ensure easy access to nature

– an assessment of environmental impact before development is permitted

– address the ecological and climate crises by protecting new ‘recovery land’

– People and local stakeholders must be able to engage with the planning system

– Decisions must be based on up-to-date and accurate nature data

Chief executive Craig Bennett said: “We’re in a climate and ecological crisis and we cannot afford to lose any more wildlife – we need a new project speed for nature.

“We must keep the environmental protections that we have – but even that is not enough.

“Protections must be strengthened, and the government needs to take a big step towards helping nature to recover everywhere.

“The new planning reforms currently propose an algorithm-based system that’s dependent on non-existent data.

“That’s a system that will fail nature and lead to more loss.

“Evidence shows that healthy communities need nature and the government must map out a nature recovery network across every one of their proposed zones, whether it’s a growth, renewal or protected area.

“We’re proposing five principles to ensure the planning system helps nature and we want to see a bold new designation which will protect new land that’s put into recovery – we’re calling this wildbelt.”

The trust is urging the public to help rewild the planning system by responding at wtru.st/do-not-fail-wildlife. The deadline is Thursday October 29.

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