Here is a posting from today which highlights a possible danger posed to ancient woodland from the agenda for the special Development Management Committee which debates “minor amendments” to the Local Plan on Thursday 18th July:
These concerns had already been highlighted by the Woodland Trust's input on the draft NPPF:
It's great to see a level of ancient woodland protection included in the draft NPPF - but we need real protection for woods and trees.
The draft NPPF states:
'planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.'
We believe that retaining the damaging loophole ('unless the need for, and benefits of, the development...') in this guidance retains the 'get-out clause' for developers that has for years undermined what protection is offered to ancient trees and ancient woodland, and other precious habitats in the wider landscape, through the planning system.
We also believe:
- Green spaces and trees and woodland outside of designated areas are not offered protection through the NPPF;
- The draft actually dilutes previous protection for the countryside by giving it no protection for its own intrinsic value;
- The text is contradictory and terms are confusing. Decision-makers on the ground will find the ambiguous guidance and uncertain definitions it currently contains very difficult to use in practice;
- Planning policy must reflect the fact that woods and trees have huge benefits for us and wildlife; they should be fully integrated with development in towns and cities.
Read the Government's summary of this draft Framework.