Two ministers send written statements
The Landscape Institute has received written assurances from two ministers about their commitment to green infrastructure, following a letter that the LI wrote expressing its concern.
In January the LI, Town and Country Planning Association, Groundwork UK and The Land Trust issued a joint letter to the Government expressing its worry about the disappearance of Green Infrastructure guidance within National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG). The letter went to The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and outlined a number of serious impacts of the loss of guidance. For more information on this, read the press release.
In March, the LI was invited to attend a meeting with civil servants from both DCLG and Defra to discuss the matter in greater detail and to seek a resolution. It was agreed that in the short term we would receive statements from ministers emphasising their commitment to GI. These have now been received, prior to the dissolution of Parliament.
Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Department for Communities and Local Government, wrote, 'I would like to categorically assure you that there has been no change in either planning policy or guidance with respect to green infrastructure…The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that local planning authorities should set out a strategic approach in their local plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure. We continue to recognise and support the value of green infrastructure in contributing to sustainable development, improved physical and mental health and wellbeing as well as a greater sense of pride in the local area.'
Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, wrote, 'I fully recognise the vital role that green infrastructure needs to play in securing a healthy natural environment and will therefore ensure that nothing we do undermines our ability to protect and enhance it.'
In the longer term, following the general election, Defra and DCLG have said that they would like to meet with the LI again to explore how LI and government can work together to draft new planning guidance, to be hosted on DCLG’s National Planning Practice Guidance pages. This is a positive result and will enable the LI to ensure that information relating to GI cuts across other planning-related matters, such as flooding, design, climate change, health and wellbeing.