This post is by Dame Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College, former director-general of the National Trust, vice president of CPRE, the Countryside Charity, and trustee of Green Alliance. She writes here in a personal capacity.
Last summer the government consulted on what it described as radical reform of the land use planning system. In intemperate language, it blamed planning for much that is wrong in our society: for failing to deliver new housing (even though one million houses with planning permission are not being built); for failing to allow businesses to grow; for failing to deliver infrastructure; and for failing to involve people in decisions. It promised “a whole new planning system for England”.
Having engaged with successive planning reforms during my time as chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), there is something comfortingly familiar about the white paper just published by the government. Many of the reforms I encountered in my first eight years in the job were swept away in 2012, when the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced. Read more
The prime minister has announced an ‘infrastructure revolution’, as he promises to put jobs and infrastructure at the heart of the government’s economic growth strategy. Drawing comparisons with Roosevelt’s New Deal, the government promises to ‘unite and level up’ the country. Infrastructure projects are to be accelerated, with a National Infrastructure Strategy and wider reforms promised later this year. Read more
In his memoirs, Tony Blair is scathing about environmental NGOs: “Because their entire raison d’etre is to get policy changed, they can hardly say yes, we’ve done it, putting themselves out of business…. Balance is not in their vocabulary. It’s all ‘outrage’, ‘betrayal’, ‘crisis’.” Ed Balls expressed similar concerns to the Institute for Government in 2016. Green NGOs, he said, “were very sceptical about government. They found it very hard to support and push.” Rather than opening up space for the government to move into, they killed off good plans because they were not perfect. Read more
This post is by Viviane Gravey and Andy Jordan of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA. They recently co-led an expert review of the environmental implications of Brexit funded by the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative.
Although the environment as has not yet become a central focus of debate between the two official campaigns, particular issues, like the state of the UK’s beaches and climate change, are getting an airing. Read more