What a day/ year to be a planning and environmental lawyer. There has been constant change due to the current pandemic, but lurking in the background was always the prospect of planning reform as per the Conservative Manifesto and the Environment Bill courtesy of Brexit.
My colleagues and I were excited by the prospect of today and Nicola Gooch summarised the main points in her earlier post.
But what does this mean for the environmentalists amongst the planning and development world?
One of the opening statements of the Planning for the Future White Paper states:
"We will build environmentally friendly homes that will not need to be expensively retrofitted in the future, homes with green spaces and new parks at close hand, where tree lined streets are the norm and where neighbours are not strangers."
So we know that enhancing the environment, whilst controlling emissions and an eye on our 2050 targets, together with easy access to green space to boost our mental and physical health are all key themes of the planning reform.
With 'environmental stewardship' now at the heart of the process it is enabling the planning system to do more to achieve the ambitions of the Government's 25 year Environment Plan which will hopefully promote environmental recovery and long-term sustainability.
With only a handful of Conservative led local authorities declaring a climate emergency - the majority coming from those with left leaning ideologies - it is encouraging to see that central government is doing what it can to address this issue which is probably the next existential crisis!
This also ties in nicely with the Environment Bill's passage through the Commons in October which will set the legislative framework for biodiversity net gain.
There is caution however as Nikki Williams states below, it may be inconvenient for nature not to know about the zoning implications of the planning reform!
What it all means however, that now more than ever, the cross over between planning and environmental law is going to crucial to be crucial in surviving this future state.
Nikki Williams, director of campaigning and policy at The Wildlife Trusts, said the government “may find it inconvenient that wildlife will not stick to its three categories and survives outside protected areas, as well as thriving on some brownfield sites that it would like to see developed”.