Changes to planning authorisation for large scale projects could have devastating affects on Kent wildlife, a conservation charity claims.
Kent Wildlife Trust has expressed concern that major infrastructure projects such as new roads, wind farms, rail expansion and pipelines could be given approval without proper environmental consideration under the new Planning Bill.
Now chief executive John Bennett is urging the county’s MPs to ensure the county’s wildlife benefits from the bill and is not damaged by it.
Mr Bennett, said: “The bill will fast-track decision making on strategic infrastructure projects such as major ports, roads, waste and energy projects.
“We need to be fully involved in planning decisions to ensure they do not cause damage to our precious wildlife.”
The new planning bill would establish an Infrastructure Planning Commission and would deal with, among other things, the authorisation of projects developing nationally significant infrastructure, and town and country planning.
Mr Bennet said the trust had scrutinised 424 planning applications in the last year and decided to comment on 195 of them, enabling them to press for more environmentally-friendly development and get a better deal for wildlife, even in the case of major projects.
Under the new Planning Bill, this would no longer be possible.
He added: “Kent is likely to have to accommodate several major infrastructure projects in the next few years.
“For the sake of our wildlife and local communities, we must ensure the (new) bill allows us to have a meaningful say and contribution.
“We are calling for a National Policy Statement on the natural environment to underpin the new planning system, and are urging our local MPs to ensure this bill lives up to our key tests.”
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