Drastic planning reforms could destroy nature’s future

By Jenna Hutber

Thursday 3 September 2020

The government is approaching a “fork in the road” that could “change the course of the future for nature” as it plans to shake up the country’s planning system, wildlife conservation charity the RSPB has warned.

Today the UK’s largest conservation organisation the RSPB is asking people to speak up for nature and ensure wildlife in their local area is protected and make sure the wildlife that brought us so much solace during lockdown is not endangered by proposals for a radically different planning system.

Alice Hardiman, Head of Policy & Advocacy, RSPB England said: “During the most restrictive parts of lockdown we heard how people across the country connected with the nature in their local area like never before and how those who lived in urban areas longed for better access to green and beautiful wildlife havens.

“But the wildlife that brought us so much solace is just a fraction of what should be there.”

Last month the government published dramatic proposals to transform England’s planning system which could see vital wildlife havens covered with concrete before we even know they are there, make it faster and easier to develop on local wildlife habitats and fail to deliver the greenspaces communities desperately need.

The government has the chance to step up as a guardian for nature and ensure every community has access to green spaces riches in nature or sacrifice vital legal protections and watch as the nature’s future is destroyed.

Alice added: “Some of the most important protections for the incredible nature on our doorstep come from planning laws and regulations. With one in ten UK species at risk of extinction and more than 50% in decline, the planning proposals put the country at a fork in the road.

“If you care about nature’s future, now is the time to raise up your voice and demand a better future for our incredible wildlife.”  

The proposals put at risk protections for nature that prevented Lodge Hill, the most important site in the country for nightingales, being turned into a 5,000 house development. Lodge Hill was an area of Ministry of Defence land in Medway, Kent that was earmarked for development until the BTO national nightingale survey revealed it is a haven for nightingales. These birds, known for their beautiful song, declined by 53% in 13 years and are still red-listed. A fierce local campaign backed by the RSPB and other conservation organisations saw Medway Council withdraw Lodge Hill from its Local Plan in 2017.

Nature cannot speak for itself and needs you to tell the government how much you care about our planning system and its potential to protect and restore nature.

More information about how to have your say for nature can be found here.

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