Letter to The Independent from Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark
Ancient woods are protected
The claims by the Woodlands Trust that the Government is considering the weakening of planning protection on ancient woodland is simply untrue (report, 21 February 2011). There are no such planning changes being proposed. No government document has ever floated the downgrading of such protection. The Coalition Agreement actually commits the Government to protecting important environmental planning designations.
The Coalition Government is seeking to consolidate the 1,000 pages of Whitehall planning policy guidance into a shorter document. This will not undermine the local environment. Protection for ancient woodland in the existing guidance will be carried over. It will also help make the planning system more accessible to the public.
At present, only full-time planning professionals - from lawyers, to developers, to council officers, to NGOs - are fully able to navigate through these 25 volumes. Pruning such excessive government paperwork may actually save a fair few trees from the paper mill.
Greg Clark MP
Minister for Decentralisation,
Department for Communities and Local Government
Response to article in the Guardian
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said:
This story is simply untrue. The Coalition Agreement commits the Government to protecting important environmental designations. Condensing the sprawling volumes of planning guidance will not undermine the local environment, it will just make planning rules more accessible and easier to read.
The Coalition Agreement states:
We will maintain the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and other environmental protections, and create a new designation - similar to SSSIs - to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities.