The Wildlife Trusts call for a new designation – Wildbelt – to allow nature’s recovery

New analysis of the Government’s White Paper, Planning for the Future, has revealed that, as they currently stand, the proposed reforms will increase the threat to nature in England and do little to create better homes and communities for wildlife and people.

Based on their analysis, The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to commit to five principles to be applied to future planning which would ensure the reforms can address the climate and ecological crises and people’s need for nature around them. One of these principles would, for the first time, protect new land for the purposes of putting nature into recovery. For this, The Wildlife Trusts propose a new protection mechanism called "Wildbelt".

Debbie Tann, Chief Executive of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: 

“We agree with Government that the current planning system needs an overhaul, but we need to make sure that, in the rush to ‘build, build, build’, they don’t forget their commitment to restore nature and leave the environment in a better state than they found it.  We can’t just keep putting a fence round the remaining tiny fragments of nature and concreting over the rest.  That is simply not enough to tackle the pressing climate and ecological emergency in front of us.

But we have a chance now to say how we can, instead, plan for a wilder future and create a system with nature at its heart - one that ensures we have great homes for people and wildlife and the sustainable natural resources that we all need to survive.   We’re proposing five principles to ensure the planning system helps nature and we want to see a bold new designation which will protect new land that’s put into recovery - we’re calling this Wildbelt.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ five principles are:

1. Wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature must be put at the heart of planning reform by mapping a Nature Recovery Network

2. Nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and assessment of environmental impact must take place before development is permitted

3. Address the ecological and climate crises by protecting new land for nature’s recovery by creating a new designation – Wildbelt

4. People and local stakeholders must be able to meaningfully engage with the planning system

5. Decisions must be based on up-to-date and accurate nature data

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet and the government has committed to reversing wildlife declines. A successful planning system is crucial to securing the recovery of nature and creating healthy communities with natural green space on people’s doorsteps.

The Wildlife Trust will be responding to the Government consultation and are urging the public to rewild the planning system by responding too at:

http://wtru.st/do-not-fail-wildlife .

The deadline is 29th October 2020.