Conservation and environmental pressure groups have banded together to fight against proposed changes in the planning laws.
They say the reforms will take away the right to protest against major new developments such as nuclear power stations and airport extensions.
To illustrate their campaign Planning Disaster, a coalition of the UK’s major ‘green’ organisations, has put in an application to build an incinerator on the site of St Paul’s cathedral in London.
They claim reforms proposed in the Government’s White Paper on planning will remove the public’s democratic right to challenge projects at public inquiry.
Planning Disaster says planning decisions will also be taken out of the hands of accountable politicians and handed over to an unelected, unaccountable new body called the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
The group says it is concerned the changes will allow developers to push through major projects that could have a catastrophic impact on communities, the countryside and the wider environment.
# Super incinerators at Deptford in south-east London and Colnbrook in Slough
# Up to 10 nuclear power plants around the UK, including reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk, Calderhall in Cumbria and Hartlepool
# Airport expansions at Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, East Midlands, Heathrow and Stansted
# Major road schemes including a bypass between Hastings and Bexhill in the South East
# M6 widening between Staffordshire and Cheshire and a new road bridge across the Mersey
The coalition, whose members include Airport Watch, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the Ramblers Association, the RSPB, Transport 2000 and The Woodland Trust, published a joint statement entitled Making Planning Better, which sets out how the Planning White Paper should deliver sustainable development – that is economic and social development which respects environmental limits.
Owen Espley, co-ordinator at Planning Disaster, said: “Today, the public can still have the right to object to barmy planning applications which could damage our environment or our communities – such as the application we made to build an incinerator on the site of St Paul’s Cathedral.
“If the Planning White Paper goes ahead in its current form, the public will effectively lose their right to a say. The Government needs to rethink and introduce a planning system which allows people an effective say in how their area is developed.
“We are asking people to act now at www.planningdisaster.co.uk or lose their voice on what happens in their area.”
The coalition is encouraging the public to get their voice heard in the Government consultation by sending ministers an e-mail via the website by August 17.
The Government claims the country needs a better, quicker system to decide major infrastructure projects which will have community consultation at every stage.
It claims the proposed new system will replace over 8 different planning regimes and could save over £1 billion within 10 years.
By Paul Eccleston
9 July 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding