Officials in Natural England’s and the Environment Agency’s planning departments have been told by the government to “consolidate” their planning departments.
DEFRA took a massive hit just after the last general election, with a large swathe of funding withdrawn from it. And Natural England has also suffered.
Both agencies are responsible for commenting on planning applications and it wasn’t that long ago that chancellor, George Osborne, did his best to neutralise the only legal blocks against planning applications – the EU habitats regulations, which are adminstered by Natural England.
Fortunately, the legislation is too enshrined in EU, so fortunately, he failed.
The Woodbury Common pebblebed heaths are all protected by the EU Habitats Regulations, as is Venn Ottery and Aylesbeare commons. Natural England will normally object to developments that take place too close to the pebblebed heaths. There are many rare plants and as a result, wildlife that reside in the pebblebed heaths and it is one of the last places in the country that the Dartford Warbler can be found, although sightings are uncommon.
A cynic might assume that this proposed “consolidation” is a way of reducing these agencies’ capacity and ability for preventing the sorts of development that Cameron, Osborne and Boles wish to railroad through.
Unfortunately, this seems to be any sort of development anywhere.
The full story in today’s Planning Resource, is here – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1188269/natural-england-environment-agency-face-planning-shake-up/