In a letter to the Telegraph, this week dame Helen Ghosh, director-general, National Trust and Shaun Spiers, chief executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England, say the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) "was designed to last a generation, but already the government is proposing to amend it." The letter adds: "Some of the proposals are sensible; some are deeply worrying; many are unclear.
What is clear is that they will have a major impact on England’s countryside, including the green belt. The government is rightly keen to drive the delivery of new housing; it seems much less willing to consider the environmental consequences. The proposed reforms, which will affect landscapes and communities for generations to come, deserve proper consideration. A seven-week consultation straddling the Christmas break is simply too hurried."
This comes in the same month as MPs voting 298 to 261 to allow fracking under national parks, the government invest £650 million into fossil fuel energy generation (including heavily polluting diesel) and the North West of England suffer some of the worst flooding we've seen in the UK. Figures from the Met Office showed a UK record of 341mm of rain had fallen in a single 24 hour period in December, the average rainfall for Cumbria for the whole month is 146.1mm.
Inadequate flood defences, building on the green belt, mining underneath national parks will only add to the erosion of the British countryside. Why are the government being so short-sighted?
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has vowed to build a "high-ambition coalition" of UK businesses, trade unions and civic society to challenge the government’s "backward" environmental policies, the Guardian reports. The newspaper says that Miliband "said he would throw his energies into rallying support for a cross-party coalition – encompassing business, civic society and religious groups – that was capable of persuading the government to change direction on environmental policy."
The UK government has just participated in a historic climate agreement in Paris, but if it’s to hold up its end of the bargain it has to rethink its support for fracking, invest in better flood defences, stop building on vulnerable flood plains and re-invest into clean renewable energy.