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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Draft National Planning Policy Framework

 I received an email the other day from someone monitoring planning and environmental issues and thought you might like to see some of it.

( click here to go to Government web site )


Hello all

I’m sorry to do this to you , but I need to talk to you all about planning. No, wait – don’t run off, it’s not boring stuff, I promise – it’s pretty important, actually. And I need your help. Stick with me, it won’t take more than 3 minutes unless you trot off to make a cup of tea halfway through.  

I’ve been waiting a while for something called a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to be produced by the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). In the run up to its release, the NPPF was touted as a document to promote “sustainable development”, and consolidate the raft of existing national planning guidance into an easy to use, simple, 60-something pages. Great – every sane person out there will agree the planning system would benefit from a bit of simplification. So the NPPF in principle seemed a good thing, and we planning folk waited excitedly to see what, post-Lawton, post-NEWP, would emerge…

…and we waited…

…and then on 25th July, just minutes before all the MPs trotted off on their jollies, the draft NPPF was quietly slipped out into the world, and a consultation launched to find out what we all think of it. Excellent timing.

It takes a staunchly, unabashedly, pro-growth stance, and places the pursuit of economic prosperity above the other “pillars” of sustainability. So much for Lawton. A sample quote will give you a flavour of what I mean: “The Government is committed to ensuring that the planning system does everything it can to support sustainable economic growth. A positive planning system is essential because, without growth, a sustainable future cannot be achieved. Planning must operate to encourage growth and not act as an impediment. Therefore, significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth through the planning system.” It goes on like this for quite a while, and while you’re reading the various chapters you notice you’re chewing your finger to keep yourself from pouring forth a diatribe of frustration (you can experience this for yourself if you feel like it – I have attached the NPPF for those of you with an inclination towards masochism).
There are some cracking elements to the NPPF, with the potential to be good and strong…if only it wasn’t for the erosion of their punch by the weight and predominance placed on economic growth! Sadly there’s a great deal in the NPPF to be nail-chewing about.
To put it simply, this document will make it harder to…
·          defend good sites
·          defend sites with potential
·          defend species that don’t have statutory protection
·          achieve ecological enhancements
…simply because ecological concerns are placed well beneath the pursuit and delivery of growth.

I won’t bore you with anymore than this – read it yourself and find out, or don’t. It’s your choice, but I will just say that planning affects us all – it shapes places, it shapes our environment, it lends or erodes quality from the areas we live. If we want an environment rich in wildlife for everyone, we have a lot to be concerned about in this NPPF, because wildlife will be consigned to national parks and not much else. It’s hard to convey in an email how worried I am by this. The NPPF is a once in a generation thing: it’ll be here for 20 years or more. At the moment, it reads like a developer’s charter, and I for one don’t want us stuck with that.

For those of you with the time and willpower, who want to read the NPPF, I would welcome your thoughts on it.
Comments should reach me by 26th August.
A final response will be sent to CLG by 16th October.


When someone appears on my Blog as a follower I am always curious to find out a bit about them. Why choose my Blog to follow , what do they Blog about and what are their interests etc.
The newest arrival is a Blog called Sunflower Haven based in Connecticut US.( URL  Ignoring any thoughts that this might not be the sort of Blog I would want to know about I checked it out so to speak.
This is all just first impressions but does lead to something interesting.
This blog covers hand made jewelry and not especially of interest to me but  it does have posts on the subject of Bugs and photographs which are of interest.
Also I noticed the Blogs Sunflower Haven follows and one is called Bug Eric and this turns out to be a
pprofessional writer and entomologist.  His Blog says: 
The Blogger is Eric R. Eaton,  a professional writer and entomologist, principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Eric says that he  has built a loyal following as a volunteer for,, and

I'll leave you to follow up on this if you are as curious as I am. Eric's Blog looks very interesting to me, is full of some very attractive insects with good photographs and if he lived in Somerset I would be more than  interested in hearing one of his talks.