A summary of the Landscape Institute’s recent policy activity, including the built environment, flooding, parks and the future of the natural environment.
The Landscape Institute has been active in several policy areas these past few months and has responded to a number of select committee inquiries. Below is a summary of our recent activity.
Comments on EFRA report: Future flood prevention
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published a report, future flood prevention, on 2 November. The report reiterated comments made by both Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that sustainable drainage systems, or SuDS, are generally cheaper to build and maintain than traditional pipework.
In April 2015, the government strengthened SuDS requirements for many new developments. But it missed an opportunity to further cut the risk of surface water flooding when it rejected a proposed amendment to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 that would have further improved the uptake of SuDS. The Landscape Institute contributed to the research that formed the basis for this amendment.
Among the Committee’s proposals is that developers should have a statutory duty to meet the costs of flooding where developments do not comply with planning regulations. The Committee emphasises the contribution that green infrastructure and SuDS make to flood prevention, and stress that all flood risk management bodies must better understand this.
Built environment report meets disappointing government response
The government published its response to the National Policy for the Built Environment Committee’s report, Building better places, on 8 November.
There were aspects to the Committee’s report that the Landscape Institute found encouraging. Among them was its support for green infrastructure. But the government’s response was disappointing; while it recognises the role green infrastructure plays in delivering sustainable development, it does not believe it appropriate to specify minimum standards for its implementation.
Another Committee recommendation was that the government appointed a Chief Built Environment Advisor. One encouraging aspect of the government’s response to the report was its signalled intention to examine how this role might fit in to the existing portfolio of the Chief Planner.
Other ongoing and recent inquiries
The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the future of the natural environment following the EU referendum has now closed. The Committee is due to issue its report at the end of the year. Read our response here.
The Communities and Local Government Committee’s public parks inquiry is ongoing. The LI submitted a response to the inquiry in September 2016 and on Monday 14 November, LI President Merrick Denton-Thompson presented oral evidence to the committee. Andrew Hinchley CMLI, Green Space Development Officer for the London Borough of Camden, also presented evidence. Watch the oral evidence session on parliamentlive.tv.
We would like to thank all of our members who have contributed to these responses.
Upcoming opportunities to engage in LI policy
Defra is currently leading on the development of the government’s 25-year plan for the environment. The Department is due to release and consult upon the framework of the plan before the end of the year; and next year, it will use the consultation outcomes to inform the detail of the plan.
We would like any members who are keen to assist in reviewing the framework of the plan to get in touch. If you would like to help inform the LI’s policy response to Defra’s 25-year environment plan, please contact Head of Policy Stephen Russell on firstname.lastname@example.org.