Biodiversity Offsetting would apply to SSSIs – Consultation

As we long predicted – Green Paper published today

For irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland, the conditions of paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework would need to be taken into account.

For Sites of Special Scientific Interest the conditions of paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework would have to be met. The Government considers this could only be the case, depending on the circumstances, if the offset provided the same type of habitat as close as possible to the Site of Special Scientific Interest that would be harmed.

For European sites the tests under Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive would have to be passed. This would only happen if the offset maintained the integrity of the Natura 2000 network (this might require providing the same type of habitat as close as possible to the Natura 2000 site that would be harmed).

How would it work – Grampian conditions

If planning permission is then granted, it would be subject to the developer securing an offset which provided the same number of biodiversity units as would be lost (the system would need to ensure offsets are capable of being a material consideration for a planning decision). As the offset could be provided by a third party this could avoid the need to include detailed requirements to put in place and manage compensatory measures in section 106 or similar agreements.


Boles – Green Belt is Not an Excuse for Not Building Enough Homes

At ConHome

 there is much more work to do before we will be building enough to make homes available and affordable for all working people who want them (and not just those who can rely on the bank of mum and dad to give them a leg up.)  We are asking local councillors around the country to take this seriously and draw up plans identifying enough land to build the houses needed in their area in the next five years.  It is right that decisions about where new houses should go should be made locally – by people who know their area best.   But with that power comes responsibility: the responsibility to provide enough land to meet people’s housing needs in full.  Of course councillors should protect the Green Belt, our finest landscapes and areas of special environmental value.  Of course they should locate as many new homes as possible on brownfield sites.  These are admirable objectives which the Government strongly supports.  But they must not become excuses for local councils not to provide enough homes for the next generation.

So that is clear then, protecting the Green Belt is not an excuse for plans not meeting housing need,

Simplifying Decision Taking

Greg Clarke’s curiously scrambled grammer in the phrase ‘decision taking’ is rather apt now so many decisions have been taken from local planning authorities.

Planning policy and guidance have been simplified, despite Bol’es reluctance for legal reforms the first step has been taken by merging CA consent with Planning permission this autumn.

For decision MAKING however it gets ever more complicated, You now have PD, PD but prior approval, proposed PD with prior approval and consideration of plan policy (very confusing), planning permission and major infrastructure consent.  Even what is the LPA for decision making purposes gets complicated this autumn.

We have struggled for 50 years to properly implement the Dobry commission report, we have also failed to properly learn from reform in Scotland about removing minor schemes from a national appeals programme.

So I would suggest we have four and only four categories of none major infrastructure applications.

PD – Such applications would simply require planning permission or not, no ifs or buts or prior approval.

Minor Consents  – Such applications would place the onus on neighbor notification on the applicant, if not decided within 4 weeks they would automatically be approved, if refused they would automatically go to a local appeals panel, half from cllrs not on the decision taking committee, half independent professionals.   This category would include small householder applications and other the government of the day wanted to speed up. There would be no further appeal.  National policy or guidance can restrict what is material for certain classes of such applications.

Normal Consents  – These would be normal applications which if no decision was made after 8 weeks it would automatically go to the local appeals panel, and then of refused would automatically be passed on to PINS unless the applicant refused to pay a fee, the statement of case being the original planning statement.  All such appeals would be dealt with through written reps.

Major Consents – As above but there would be 12 weeks for decision (including EA cases). Only major cases could be heard by committee all others would be delegated.  Appeals would be dealt with through hearings and it would be PINS sole decision whether or not because of the volume of reps whether or not there as an inquiry.

In all cases the presumption was only original submissions and reports would be dealt with by PINS unless commenting on new evidence or the reasons for refusal.  New evidence would only be allowed if permitted by PINS.

No need for ‘special measures’ authorities or procedures in this system.