Saturday, 8 March 2014

City wildlife to bear brunt of planning reforms

Posted by: Kevin Heath / 3 hours ago

While planning reforms have to be welcomed in order to get Britain building again there is a glaring gap in ensuring that wildlife is fully protected. Urban wildlife and urban wildlife habitats are clearly to be sacrificed as the government cowers to the rural NIMBY’s. There a few options for city-dwellers to enjoy a piece of nature locally and the new planning guidance does nothing to ensure what little there is is adequately protected.

While the new guidance says that brownfield sites of high biodiversity value should not be built on there is no definition or benchmark as to what a high biodiversity brownfield site is. The planning guidance is also quite clear that brownfield sites – usually to be in densely populated areas – should be built on and low-grade green fields which are effectively green deserts, lifeless and barely able to support a worm let alone a wide and vibrant wildlife population, should be protected.

Brownfield sites can be an oasis of life in a heavily populated areas and are essential green spaces for people as well as wildlife. What should have happened is that if a brownfield site was marked for development and found to be a highly bio-diverse site then a fast track method of moving the planning permission from the high quality brownfield site to a low-grade green field site should have been put in place.

Bio-diversity offsetting of brownfield sites is not really a solution. Moving species from one habitat to another does not guarantee the survival of the species and it does not help local residents – many of whom are denied gardens because of housing density – enjoy a piece of green space and an opportunity to connect with nature.

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