27 March 2012
GOVERNMENT'S ‘GROWTH OBSESSION' CONTINUES TO FUEL FEARS OVER COUNTRYSIDE PROTECTION
Green MP welcomes stronger focus on sustainable development and local decision making, but urges change of tack on ‘incompatible' short term growth
After months of controversy over its proposals to reduce barriers to development across the UK countryside, the Government today outlined its final National Planning Policy Framework
Responding to the plans, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and MP, Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion), said:
"While it's welcome news that Ministers have grudgingly responded to public pressure and strengthened the definition of ‘sustainable development', the Government's continued obsession with growth still poses a serious danger to our natural heritage.
"All the positive assurances in the world won't distract from the Chancellor's carbon-friendly Budget statement last week - and the high polluting, high cost infrastructure including new roads and aviation capacity that is now set to go ahead under the national infrastructure plan.
"Local communities rightly remain highly sceptical about whether the Government's new framework will be up to the job of allowing truly sustainable development whilst providing enough proper protection.
"It's true that there is an urgent need to build more affordable homes in order to address the housing crisis in this country, but the idea that the planning system is the obstacle is disingenuous at best; it's the lack of money from Government - thanks in no small part to huge cuts in the affordable housing budget."
She concluded: "The devil will now be in the detail of the NPPF, and it's crucial that we continue to be vigilant against efforts to push through development that is not in the public interest.
"And at a time of deep cuts to council budgets, we also need to ensure that local authorities have the resources and capacity they need to put in place adequate protection measures throughout the transition period and beyond."