The Trust speaks up for wildlife in the planning system and tries to get the best outcome all round.
The planning system shapes the places where we live and work, and plays a vital role in determining the type and quality of landscape for future generations.
Inappropriate development can harm our natural heritage. But well-considered planning has the potential to protect or even enhance our environment and help nature’s recovery - by restoring and creating wildlife habitats.
What the Wildlife Trust does
We work in a number of ways to provide a strong voice for wildlife in the face of development pressures threatening our natural environment. We:
- Influence local planning policy to ensure that it protects and enhances our natural environment and the natural processes on which we depend.
- Advise, support and train key decision-makers on their responsibilities and statutory duties regarding wildlife and green space.
- Work with local and neighbouring organisations, groups and individuals to find new opportunities to connect and restore habitats.
- Work with planners, developers and landowners to encourage sensitive design, new habitat creation and good management of green space within development.
- Undertake local planning casework to object to inappropriate development that will damage important wildlife sites, safeguard the best interests of wildlife, secure improvements and connectivity of local landscapes, and where needed we press for adequate mitigation for any damage.
The Wildlife Trusts work with The Biodiversity in Planning partnership which has an online Wildlife Assessment Check that can be used by developers, or anyone making changes to their home that require planning permission, to see if their proposals are likely to need input from an ecologist. The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management maintain a directory of qualified ecologists which can be searched for suitably trained members.
In order to focus our limited resources on the highest conservation priorities, we must balance our planning work with other activities such as managing nature reserves and providing advice to owners of wildlife sites. Our approach to planning is guided by our Planning Policy. The Trust maintains a neutral stance on development and applies evidence in an objective manner to form an opinion about a particular plan, policy or proposal. This includes house building, road building and renewable energy projects such as wind turbines.
National planning policy
The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came in to force in early 2012 and replaced most previous planning guidance. It guides local planning authorities in producing their Local Plans.
It's important to understand the Framework if you want to become involved in local planning matters.
The Framework makes some over-arching statements about the natural environment and some specific points about protecting nature. It says:
- Planning has an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.
- Pursuing sustainable development involves…moving from a net loss of bio-diversity to achieving net gains for nature.
- Local planning authorities should set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure.
- Opportunities to incorporate biodiversity in and around developments should be encouraged.
Whether or not we get involved in a local planning matter, you can do your bit in your local area
- Find out when your local authority is consulting on its Local Plan. Check their website.
- Respond to consultations. Insist on strong policies to protect wildlife, and ask for new wildlife habitat to be created as part of major developments.
- Find out if your parish or town is putting together a Neighbourhood Plan. You can seek the creation of new wildlife-rich green space as part of the plan.
- Respond to planning applications you think could damage wildlife, or have the potential to create more areas for wildlife, especially if they go against policies in your local plan.
- Let your local councillors, and those on the planning committee know why you are objecting.
You can download our guide Planning and wildlife - what you can do for lots more handy information and advice on the planning system and how to use it to defend your local nature.