Navigation – Plan du site

Not out of the woods yet : Spatial planning (de)regulation under the Coalition Government

Claire Sibley-Esposito
p. 189-214

Résumé

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition agreement presented in 2010 included the announcement of an intention to proceed with a radical reform of the spatial planning system in England, as part of a broad ambition to reduce what various government officials represented as a “burden of bureaucracy” undermining economic growth. Major reforms have indeed been undertaken over the last three years, with the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. The Government has also put forward proposals for a ‘biodiversity offsetting’ scheme which it argues has the potential to simultaneously promote environmental conservation and boost the economy by speeding up decision-making in the planning system. This paper proposes to examine some of the debates generated by these recent developments in spatial planning policy in England, focusing on questions relating to environmental conservation issues.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1  In 2011, the National Census findings estimated the average population density in England to be 40 (...)
  • 2  HM Government, ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’, 26 May 2010, p.11.
  • 3  See, for example, HM Government, Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Decentralisatio (...)

1 To misquote an observation frequently attributed to Mark Twain, and at the risk of stating what should be rather obvious by now - even from within the current socio-economic paradigm - land is not being made much anymore (taking volcanic islands and polders apart). It is hardly surprising, therefore, that spatial planning policy is becoming an increasingly contentious issue in such a densely populated country as England1, where the mantra of economic growth continues to be chanted on the assumption that such growth can be sustainable. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition agreement presented in 2010 included the announcement of an intention to proceed with a radical reform of the English planning system2, as part of a broad ambition to reduce what various government officials repeatedly represented as a “burden of bureaucracy” undermining economic growth3. Major reforms have indeed been undertaken over the last three years, with the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. However, some aspects of these reforms have been decried by critics both within and outside the Coalition as working in tension with each other. Furthermore, whilst the Coalition Government insists that it was necessary to simplify planning legislation in order to promote ‘sustainable development’, many opponents represent the changes as implying a suppression of certain environmental safeguards, raising the question of whether or not such simplification should be seen as amounting to de-regulation.

2 This paper proposes to examine some of the debates generated by these recent changes to spatial planning policy in England, focusing on questions relating to environmental conservation. Attention will first be paid to the debate surrounding the contrast between the Government’s stated localist aims and some of the ‘top-down’ effects which have been associated with the reforms so far - an issue which has been a source of tension within the Coalition. The wider implications of some recent controversies relating to construction projects on greenfield sites will be considered, leading to an examination of different perspectives on the Government’s proposals for a ‘biodiversity offsetting’ scheme. The latter has been presented as a means by which habitat damage incurred on a development site may be ‘compensated’ for by conservation measures taken elsewhere - an approach which the Government argues has the potential to simultaneously promote environmental conservation and boost the economy by speeding up decision-making in the planning system. Given that responsibility for spatial planning has largely been transferred to the devolved administrations, the focus of this paper will be on legislation and proposals specific to England and their associated controversies.

Power to the people ? Localism versus ‘top-down’ planning

  • 4  ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’, p.11.
  • 5 Ibid.
  • 6  Department for Communities and Local Government, Written Statement to Parliament, ‘Revoking Region (...)

3 In the Coalition agreement of 2010, the newly-formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat government presented itself as seeking to promote “a fundamental power shift from Westminster to people” which would “end the era of top-down government”4. Decentralisation was thus put forward as being a means of public empowerment, and a plan to “radically reform the planning system”5 was to be one of the cornerstones of this localist agenda. In the first phase of these reforms, the Government saw through its pledge to revoke the Regional Spatial Strategies which had been introduced under Labour, by which central government imposed building targets on regional planning authorities. The Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Eric Pickles, argued that these strategies had “added unnecessary bureaucracy to the planning system” and that their revocation opened the way for a new approach which would “make local spatial plans, drawn up in conformity with national policy, the basis for local planning decisions”6.

  • 7   HM Government, Localism Act 2011, Section 116, Schedule 9: Neighbourhood Planning. National Archi (...)
  • 8  See Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, ‘Planning and urban regeneration since 2010: a recipe (...)
  • 9 Ibid.

4 The abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategies was enshrined in The Localism Act 2011, which also included a provision for neighbourhood forums to be established at local levels, whose role is to agree on community needs for new developments and to prepare a plan to meet those needs, taking account of the local plan for the wider area. This neighbourhood plan is then subject to an examination of its statutory validity before being put before a neighbourhood referendum, requiring support on the part of 50 % of the voters to come into force7. However, a report by the Local Government Information Unit raised a number of concerns about the difficulties which some local communities faced in attempting to implement this policy, partly due to a lack of adequate funding8. According to Goodchild and Hammond, these difficulties were “likely to deter plan preparation and to result in patchy plan coverage at best, with most plans prepared in the most prosperous areas”9.

  • 10   George Osborne in his Budget speech to the House of Commons, 21 March 2012. Hansard record of a H (...)
  • 11 Ibid.
  • 12  Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, p.87.
  • 13  BBC News, ‘National Trust criticises draft planning reforms’, 7 September 2011.
  • 14  CPRE, ‘A response by the Campaign to Protect Rural England to the Department for Communities and L (...)

5 Both neighbourhood plans and local plans are now required to be in compliance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced in March 2O12. Lauded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, as “the biggest reduction in business red tape ever undertaken”10, the NPPF revised previously issued Planning Policy Statements and Planning Policy Guidance Notes for use in England, cutting over a thousand pages of guidelines down to some fifty pages11. Whereas the principle of neighbourhood planning put forward as part of the Localism Act had generated little immediate controversy12, the presentation of the draft version of the NPPF in July 2011 sparked strong protests, particularly on the part of the National Trust and other conservation groups. Opponents to the proposed changes frequently cited a phrase in the draft NPPF document which stated that “the default answer to development proposals is ‘yes’ except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in this framework”13. For the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), for example, the draft proposals sought “to promote economic growth seemingly at any cost”, employed the terms ‘development’, ‘sustainable economic growth’ and ‘sustainable development’ interchangeably and failed to provide any clear definition of how it envisaged the latter14.

  • 15  Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Hands off Britain’s countryside’, The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2011.   
  • 16  Bingham, John, ‘Hands off our land: Lib Dems reject Coalition planning overhaul’, The Daily Telegr (...)

6  Protests against the draft NPPF were given considerable attention in the media – attention which often amounted to out-and-out support, serving in turn to fuel the uproar. Within two months, the lobby of opposition to the NPPF had widened to include groups as diverse as the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, the   Countryside Alliance and the Women’s Institute. One of the most striking examples of media involvement in the increasingly heated controversy was the launch of The Daily Telegraph’s ‘Hands off our land !’ campaign platform, with the newspaper arguing that the planning reforms threatened “to do more damage to the countryside than any policy in living memory”15. The very title of The Daily Telegraph’s campaign is a clear illustration of how, despite its Conservative leanings, the newspaper sought to position itself as a defender of the English countryside in opposition to the Government, with the latter in the role of aides to ‘land grabbing’ developers. By December 2011 the NPPF draft had also clearly become a source of dissension within the Coalition, with a group of Liberal Democrat MPs using the ‘Hands off our Land’ platform to voice protests against the plans, which they criticised as “vague and lacking sufficient safeguards”16.

  • 17  Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘National Planning Policy Framework’, (NPPF), 27 (...)
  • 18  Carpenter, Jamie, ‘Revised NPPF Document includes brownfield test’, Planning Resource, 27 March 20 (...)

7 Faced with the extent of opposition to the draft NPPF, the Government had little option but to revise the most contentious aspects of the policy framework before presenting the final version in March 2012. A policy of “presumption in favour of sustainable development” remained in place, but the definition of what might be considered to be ‘sustainable’ was given in greater detail than in the draft, with an acknowledgement of the interdependence of economic, social and environmental factors as aspects needing to be taken into consideration in the long-term assessment of the impacts of building projects17. The revised version also includes guidance that brownfield sites (i.e. land used for building projects in the past) should be used in preference to greenfield sites for new developments, a policy element which had been conspicuously lacking in the original document18.

  • 19  McCann, Kate, ‘Government announces National Planning Policy Framework’, The Guardian, 27 March 20 (...)

8 The revised version of the framework was relatively well-received by several of the groups which had been most vociferous in opposing implementation of the draft document, suggesting that the government had succeeded to a certain extent in assuaging the fears provoked by the initial proposals. The National Trust, for example, welcomed the changes which had been made as “responding to concerns which we and others raised” but remained cautious about the need to see how the reforms played out in practice19.

  • 20  NPPF, p.13.
  • 21  NPPF, p.37.
  • 22  Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, p.87.

9 At first glance the NPPF seems compatible with an ambition to give greater powers to local communities and move away from ‘top-down’ planning, in that it refers to Local Development Plans as being “the starting point for decision making”20. When the framework was introduced in March 2012, councils were given a year to elaborate local plans which would designate sites for development for a “five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target” and also specify where construction should not take place21. However, twelve months later only 7 % of local authorities had succeeded in drawing up a core strategy fully compliant with the demands of the NPPF, with 48 % having an adopted core strategy22. Just as numerous local councils had not yet been able to promote the use of the neighbourhood plans which had been made possible under the Localism Act, at least theoretically, so the majority were not able to meet the demands set by the NPPF satisfactorily in the given the time-frame.

  • 23  NPPF, p.4.
  • 24  Ibid.

10 A community which lacks a Local Development Plan has relatively little room to manoeuvre when faced with planning applications which it might otherwise seek to refuse, given that the NPPF states that permission should be granted automatically in cases “where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date”23, unless the application contravenes policy put forward elsewhere in the NPPF or it can be demonstrated that any “adverse impacts” of a development “would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”24. Hence, for the time being at least, the lack of practical means available for the implementation of the more localist aspects of the NPPF seems to have had the effect of undermining the general move towards planning decentralisation which the government has otherwise been claiming to promote.

  • 25  HM Government, Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, Sections 62a and 62b.    
  • 26  Local Government Association, Response to the House of Lords second reading of the Growth and Infr (...)

11 The localist agenda also seems to have been undercut by aspects of another key piece of recent legislation, theGrowth and Infrastructure Act 2013. The latter includes provision for developers to be able to appeal against decisions taken by local authorities, or in some cases to bypass such authorities, by addressing their applications to the Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. This applies particularly for certain commercial and business projects, but also in cases where local authorities are considered to be “not adequately performing their function of determining applications”25. The Act therefore includes provisions to allow the Secretary of State for the DCLG to override a local authority’s planning powers, a measure which the Local Government Association considered to represent “a blow to local democracy, by taking authority away from democratically accountable and locally elected councillors and placing it instead with the Planning Inspectorate”26.

  • 27  Conservative M.P Nick Boles was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning in S (...)
  • 28  Hansard, Record of a House of Commons debate on ‘Localism in planning’ held in Westminster Hall, 1 (...)

12 In a House of Commons debate on the subject of localism in planning in July 2013, Nick Boles27 responded to criticisms concerning the extent of the powers attributed to the Planning Inspectorate by arguing that localism was “not dead but in gestation”28. The planning minister asserted that the considerable number of local planning decisions taken by the Inspectorate rather than by local authorities in the previous months was simply due to the fact that the authorities in question had not yet submitted local plans fulfilling the criteria of the NPPF, and that it would merely be a matter of time before those authorities would be in a position to take more planning decisions at their local level.

  • 29  Kite, Melissa, ‘David Cameron has lost the countryside’, The Spectator, 2 November 2013.     

13 It is perhaps too soon to attempt to assess the extent to which local communities have gained decision-making powers or otherwise through the Coalition’s reforms to the planning system, but there are numerous examples across the country of communities in which these measures have been perceived recently as promoting large-scale development projects at the expense of local feeling. In October 2013, for example, The Spectator claimed that a “rural revolt” was in the making, headlining that “David Cameron has lost the countryside” in an article citing the findings of a Countryside Alliance poll which had concluded that Conservative voters in rural constituencies were angry at the Government, in part for having introduced “planning laws that give developers greater power to override local communities”29. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats sought to disassociate themselves from the planning reforms to a certain extent, voting at their 2013 annual conference to make a pledge to review the NPPF, on the basis that :

  • 30  Donnelly, Michael, ‘Liberal Democrats vote for NPPF review’, Planning Resource, 16 September 2013. (...)

there is a danger that in seeking simplicity, local planning authorities’ interpretation and implementation of the policy may not actually deliver a more sustainable future, particularly where they have local plans that are incomplete, non-compliant or not up to date and thus challengeable by developers.30

  • 31  Brooke, Annette, ‘Planning Consultation’, Liberal Democrat Voice, 3 September 2013.

14A party consultation launched in September 2013 argued that planning policy is “a crucial issue for Lib Dems”31; indeed, it seems highly likely that planning issues will feature prominently in national debates leading up to the next election, given the extent of controversy which has surrounded the Coalition’s reforms so far.

Turf wars on greenfield sites

  • 32  Jenkins, Simon, ‘Our glorious land in peril’, The Daily Telegraph, 28 September 2013.
  • 33   In August 2013 the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published a report claiming that 150, (...)
  • 34  Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Beauty reduced to bricks and mortar’, The Daily Telegraph,15 March 2013.    

15 In an article published in The Daily Telegraph in September 2013, National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins painted a bleak picture of what he referred to as the new “coalition landscape” - featuring a sprawl of “warehouse estates” and ‘out-of-town housing units”32. Whereas the National Trust and other prominent NGOs had initially been reassured by modifications made to the NPPF before it came into force in 2012, by the following year protests about the perceived initial effects of the Coalition’s reform of planning regulations were multiplying. The Campaign to Protect Rural England issued repeated warnings that there had been a considerable rise in developments on greenfield sites in general, including on Green Belt land, and launched a ‘Charter to Save the Countryside’33. Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph renewed its attacks on the Government in no uncertain terms in its continuing ‘Hands off our Land’ campaign, claiming in its assessment of the impact of the reforms one year on from the publication of the NPPF that ministers were “riding roughshod over the reassurances and restrictions they supposedly imposed on speculative development” and that “across the country, Green Belt land is vanishing under concrete”.34

  • 35  NPPF, p.20.

16 The NPPF states that “inappropriate development” for Green Belt land “should not be approved except in very special circumstances”35, and the Coalition Government has repeatedly declared its intention to uphold long-standing Green Belt policy - by which construction on designated land around certain towns is restricted in order to avoid ribbon development. But, by July 2013, while once again reiterating its commitment to the principle of maintaining Green Belts, the government was forced to admit that the level of this protection operating in practice did not always correspond to its own stated aims :

  • 36  Lewis, Brandon, ‘Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament’ issued by the Department for Communi (...)

Having considered recent planning decisions by councils and the Planning Inspectorate, it has become apparent that, in some cases, the Green Belt is not always being given the sufficient protection that was the explicit policy intent of ministers.36

17 In a parliamentary debate on the issue of localism in planning held shortly after this statement was issued, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt argued :

  • 37  Hansard, Record of a House of Commons debate on ‘Localism in Planning’, 17 July 2013.

[…] the National Policy Planning Framework is not working to protect the Green Belt. There is greenfield development in the Green Belt designated for my constituency at the behest of a planning inspector, rather than local people, which is evidence that our system is not working.37

  • 38  Miner, Paul, ‘What the NPPF means for the natural environment’, Planning Resource, 3 April 2012.

18 Blunt’s experience in his constituency was not an isolated case - MPs from both sides of the House of Commons raised concerns during the debate about a rise in speculative planning applications being granted for developments on greenfield sites, often due to the overturning of local decisions by the Planning Inspectorate. The delay in the implementation of local plans in many parts of the country clearly seems to have played a part in the sudden rise in planning permission accorded for greenfield sites, but some analysts also consider that there are loopholes in the NPPF which have contributed to the problem – for example, the fact that the new framework carries no explicit requirement for brownfield sites to be developed before greenfield ones38.

  • 39  CPRE briefing paper, ‘Green Belt: Under renewed threat?’, August 2012.

19 This latter aspect of the NPPF contrasts with the ‘brown-field first’ policy promoted by the previous Labour government, but it is important to note that Labour had been criticised for other policies which had also been perceived as posing a threat to the Green Belt - for example, the CPRE congratulated the Coalition for abolishing Regional Spatial Strategies on the basis that the latter were calling in some cases for development on Green Belt land39. While the difficulties of implementing various aspects of the Localism Act and the publication of the NPPF may have put the question of Green Belt development in the spotlight, the pressures caused by the combination of a rising population along with a continued societal focus on striving for economic growth are such that Green Belt controversies were already likely to multiply.

  • 40 The Economist, ‘Ed Miliband and housing: Building credibility’, 24 September 2013.
  • 41  LabourList, ‘Ed Miliband’s 2013 conference speech: Transcript’, 24 September 2013.
  • 42  Boffey, Daniel, ‘Labour pledges to build five new towns to ease shortage of new homes’, The Observ (...)

20 While Labour has pledged to revoke the NPPF if elected in 2015, it has also criticised the Coalition Government repeatedly for not doing enough to encourage new building developments in the face of a projected housing crisis, arguing that the increase in building permits has not translated into any significant rise in rates of house-building - due in part to property developers ‘land banking’, or, in other words, waiting for demand to increase further before actually building on the sites for which they have secured planning permission40. At the Party conference in September 2013, Ed Miliband pledged that a Labour government would seek to double the current house-building rate by 2020 and give cities the “right to grow” by expanding beyond their boundaries into neighbouring towns and boroughs41. The party went on to announce in November 2013 that it would promote the building of five new towns if it wins the next general election42.

21 Therefore, the question of how to seek the means to promote the building of more housing developments and associated infrastructure whilst nonetheless avoiding extensive encroachment on Green Belt land is likely to be a key election issue in 2015, given the combined effects of a mounting housing crisis and the controversy generated by the Coalition’s planning reforms so far. Whilst it seems that the mainstream political parties all agree on the principle of promoting house-building on a large scale, the allocation of sites on which this building could actually take place is likely to be a source of great contention - not only between political families, but also within them.

22 It is still early days in the assessment of the actual impact of the Coalition’s planning reforms on English landscape, but it is undeniable that these measures have generated considerable tension within the Coalition - as testified to by the Liberal Democrats’ pledge to re-work the NPPF, but also by the numerous criticisms made of the reforms by Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs in parliamentary debates. Moreover, the Conservative party has found itself embroiled in some particularly high profile internal disputes relating to planning decisions, some of the most mediatised of which have involved cases of the Planning Inspectorate overturning local decisions on previously rejected planning applications.

  • 43  Johnston, Bryan, ‘Homes win favour in planning vacuum’, Planning Resource, 1 November 2013.

23 One case in particular attracted considerable media attention, as it concerned a development in Hook Norton, a village in the picturesque Cotswolds just a stone’s throw from that which gave the ‘Chipping Norton set’ its name. In September 2013, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, gave approval for a planning application to build on greenfield sites on the edge of the village, overturning a previous ruling by Cherwell District Council intended to block the development – a reversal made possible by the fact that there was only a draft local plan in place for the area43. Local Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry’s expression of outrage at the decision was quoted across the media, and could only serve to fuel criticism of the ambiguities inherent in the Government’s planning measures :

  • 44  Boffey, Daniel, ‘Cotswold village fights to stay small’, The Observer, 29 September 2013.    

This is planning anarchy. My frustration, disappointment and indeed anger is that what has happened runs counter to what everyone assumed would happen. Up and down the country people will be asking what this decision means for them.44

  • 45  Decision Letter on the planning application for the extension of Hermitage Quarry in Kent, issued (...)
  • 46  Carrington, Damien, ‘Ancient woodland in Kent to be destroyed for quarry site’, The Guardian, 12 J (...)

24 Of course, housing developments are only part of the picture, and both party-political and local community conflicts over decisions relating to infrastructure, energy supply issues and the extraction of building materials have also been hitting the headlines. One of the major controversies of this type has frequently been cited as a test case by environmental conservationists - that of Oaken Wood, near Aylesbury in Kent. In July 2013, Eric Pickles approved plans for a stone and aggregates quarry to be extended into 80 acres of the wood - a project which had been the subject of a two-year battle between the quarrying company, Gallagher Aggregates, and campaigners against the development. In this case, however, Pickles’ decision was in agreement with that of the County Council. The Secretary of State justified his approval of the project in part by noting that the NPPF “whilst seeking to protect ancient woodland, does allow for circumstances where the loss can be outweighed by other considerations”45. News that the extension of the quarry had finally been given the go-ahead drew an impassioned response from The Woodland Trust - an organisation which had been among those cautiously welcoming in its response to the revised NPPF the previous year - with the trust’s Chief Executive, Sue Holden, claiming that Pickles’ decision set a precedent by which “it seems no green space is safe”46.

25 Although the Woodland Trust’s concerns seem justified, given the open wording of the NPPF in relation to the protection of ancient woodland, it should nonetheless be noted that the Hermitage Quarry application had also been accepted on the basis that the part of Oaken Wood in question was a chestnut coppice plantation on an ancient woodland site, the plantation itself dating back to the nineteenth century. The decision letter granting approval for the planning application stated that :

  • 47  DCLG, Decision Letter on the planning application for the extension of Hermitage Quarry in Kent, p (...)

despite designation as a Local Wildlife Site, the relatively poor biodiversity interest in the current woodland would, in the longer term, be considerably increased by the restoration to native woodland and the conservation management of other off-site woodlands.47

26 Gallagher Associates had committed itself to creating new wildlife habitat as part of a restoration project to compensate for the environmental damage caused by the extension of the quarry. This procedure raises another set of dilemmas associated with the use of ‘biodiversity offsetting’ in planning matters, a concept which is currently being explored by the Coalition and which was originally mooted under the previous Labour government.

Biodiversity offsetting: green practice or greenwash?

  • 48  NPPF, p.27.
  • 49  See Defra’s guidance and information on biodiversity offsetting for providers and developers of of (...)

27 The NPPF includes guidance that if “significant harm” to biodiversity on a site “cannot be avoided […] adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused.”48 The notion that it might be possible to ‘compensate’ for biodiversity loss on one site by creating or conserving habitat on another is one which has been gaining support in international policy circles in recent years. ‘Biodiversity offsetting’ involves the calculation of units of value of biodiversity on a given site, based on scoring its distinctiveness and its quality ; developers then purchase ‘conservation credits’ which fund habitat creation or conservation in another location49. As monetary values are indirectly attributed to biodiversity in this process, it seems reasonable to assume that any generalised use of such a scheme would see the emergence of a market for retaining and restoring habitats. Proponents of the approach argue that this would have the effect of promoting environmental conservation - as biodiversity would be ‘valued’ within the economic system, rather than being treated as an unpriced externality.

28 Arguments in favour of attributing monetary values not only to biodiversity but also to ‘ecosystem services’ provided by the natural environment - such as the natural ‘flood prevention services’ provided by wetlands - have been put forward for several years now in the context of international projects aimed at promoting the concept of ‘natural capital accounting’. In the UK, the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) under Labour advocated “developing incentives for biodiversity such as biodiversity offsets, valuing ecosystem services and developing our understanding of how biodiversity can provide economic benefits to local communities”50, in parallel with the UK’s commitment to participate in funding the international ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) study, launched in 200751. The concept of ‘natural capital accounting’ began to attract greater attention following the publication of TEEB reports in 2010, and it was in this context that the Coalition announced a “commitment to putting natural capital at the centre of economic thinking” in an English natural environment White Paper, published in June 201152. Entitled The Natural Choice : Securing the Value of Nature, the White Paper included the announcement that pilot biodiversity offsetting schemes would be put in place in six areas in England from April 201253.

  • 54  Defra, ‘Biodiversity Offsetting in England: Green Paper’, September 2013. The consultation ran unt (...)

29 The Coalition Government’s interest in biodiversity offsetting, confirmed by a recent Green Paper consultation on the subject54, therefore seems to be the logical continuation of policy approaches aimed at attempting to develop ‘natural capital accounting’ which have been in the making for several years on the international stage and which were also promoted under Labour. However, the manner in which the Coalition has sought to link proposals for a biodiversity offsetting scheme to its reforms of the spatial planning system tends to suggest that there has been a certain shift of emphasis, in terms of how the possible benefits of this concept are presented. This is particularly striking in the wording of the Green Paper, which repeatedly evokes the potential for such a scheme to contribute to a simplification of the planning system and be a boon to developers. In his foreword to the Green Paper, Owen Paterson presents measuring biodiversity value as a straightforward process which could be easily integrated into planning application assessments :

  • 55  Ibid., p.1.

Offsetting is a simple concept. It is a measurable way to ensure we make good any residual damage caused by development which cannot be avoided or mitigated. This guarantees there is no net loss from development and supports our ambition to achieve net gain for nature. For developers it can offer a simpler, faster way through the planning system. It can be quicker and more straightforward to agree a development’s impacts and can create a ready market to supply compensation for residual damage to nature.55

  • 56  Ibid., p. 2.
  • 57  Ibid.
  • 58  Ibid., p.4.

30 The Green Paper goes on to argue that the current planning system is unsatisfactory on two counts : on the one hand, the length of time taken for planning applications to be processed, combined with uncertainties about outcomes “can hinder development”, whilst on the other hand “biodiversity impacts are not always adequately taken into account”56. Biodiversity offsetting is presented as offering a means to tackle these issues simultaneously and as therefore having “the potential to help the planning system deliver more for the environment and the economy”57. The proposals suggest that it would be possible to employ a standard framework for evaluating biodiversity at any given site, and that this in turn would make environmental impact assessment procedures simpler, quicker and cheaper for developers – whilst enabling provision to be made for the ‘compensation’ of any biodiversity loss which could not otherwise be “avoided” or “mitigated”58.

  • 59  Ibid., p. 5.

31 A national biodiversity offsetting scheme is therefore currently being considered by the Coalition Government on the basis that it could provide a means of conciliating environmental conservation with the ambition of continued economic development - referred to in the Green Paper rather curiously as the Government’s determination “to succeed in the global race by creating growth and delivering lasting prosperity”59. Not surprisingly, numerous environmental activists, ecological scientists and conservationists are more sceptical about the possibilities for reconciling these two aims, and have tended to be cautious in their responses to the outlined proposals for an offsetting scheme. Whilst some oppose such an approach in no uncertain terms, others are loathe to reject the concept of ‘biodiversity offsetting’ entirely but have expressed concern about the means by which it may be implemented.

  • 60  Friends of the Earth press release, ‘Biodiversity ‘compensation’ proposals a licence to trash natu (...)
  • 61  Ibid.
  • 62  Ibid.

32 The environmental group Friends of the Earth condemned the proposals put forward in the Green Paper as amounting to “a licence to trash nature”60, presenting the offsetting scheme as opening up possibilities for developers to use the ‘compensation’ argument to gain planning permission for sites which would not otherwise be considered for construction projects, thereby “increasing the amount of inappropriate development” rather than increasing levels of environmental protection61. The group underlined the uniqueness and complexity of wildlife habitats, condemning the very notion that damage caused in one location could be compensated for by restoration or conservation projects elsewhere62. Meanwhile, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also raised concerns about the illusion of simplicity associated with the concept of biodiversity offsetting, which, she argued,

  • 63  Mathiesen, Karl, ‘Is biodiversity offsetting a licence to trash nature?’ The Guardian, 12 December (...)

[…] betrays a failure to understand the complexity of nature and the interrelated nature of different ecological elements. It suggests that animals, plants and microbes are simply like Lego blocks, to be moved around at will, when in fact they exist in complex inter-relationships of which we frequently have only the dimmest understanding, or none at all.63

33 Nonetheless, a number of conservation groups have avoided rejecting the Government’s proposals outright, on the basis that a scheme which involves attributing values to biodiversity could have the merit of giving greater weight to environmental considerations in the decision-making processes of a market-driven socio-economic system. Attempting to take environmental damage into account within the bounds of such a system by using the common metric of monetary valuation is arguably preferable to treating the natural world by and large as an economic externality, even though such an approach denies the need for a fundamental transformation of the premises on which that socio-economic system operates. Hence, for the conservation group The Wildlife Trusts, for example, although the use of the term ‘offsetting’ is “in danger of greenwashing the facts”, and presents “elements that are immediately problematic for any conservationist” - notably concerning the complexity of ecosystems - the concept of biodiversity offsetting is nonetheless seen as having the potential to contribute to a reduction in the environmental impacts associated with construction projects :

  • 64  The Wildlife Trusts, ‘Thoughts on biodiversity offsetting’.

[…]there is no escaping that there is a serious problem that needs addressing somehow. Nature is being damaged and lost and will continue to be if as a society we are unable to find increasingly better ways of creating the built environment that we need […] Biodiversity offsetting is not the only solution but the scale and nature of the problem means it is worth at least considering, with necessary caution and as part of a wider set of approaches.64

  • 65  The Environmental Audit Committee is a Commons Select Committee whose remit is “to consider the ex (...)
  • 66  House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, ‘Biodiversity offs (...)
  • 67 Ibid., p.13.
  • 68 Ibid., p.10.

34 A cautionary approach to the concept was also recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)65, a cross-party group of MPs which carried out an inquiry into the proposals put forward in the Green Paper. In a report published in November 2013, the EAC concluded that a decision on whether or not to introduce a system of biodiversity offsetting should not be taken until the pilot schemes had run their course and provided an evidence base for further reflection, but that if the Government decided to go ahead with such a scheme the proposals put forward in the Green Paper would require considerable revision66. The report underlined the necessity for it to be made clear that there would be no means of weakening or bypassing the “mitigation hierarchy”, by which offsetting should only be considered as a last resort, “after the possibility of alternative development sites or mitigating the extent of the loss have been exhaustively examined”67 ; furthermore, a clear protocol and adequate funding would be needed in order to ensure a rigorous approach to such assessments68. The EAC also raised concerns about the proposed method for calculating biodiversity values, which it described as “overly simplistic”, arguing that :

  • 69 Ibid., p.3.

 The speed with which the metric can be applied to sites (the Government estimates 20 minutes) should not be the priority. The priority should be ensuring rigorous protection of the environment. If biodiversity offsetting is introduced, its metric for calculating environmental losses and gains must reflect the full complexity of habitats, including particular species, local habitat significance, ecosystem services provided and 'ecosystem network' connectivity. For some sites, for example sites of special scientific interest, the weightings in the metric must fully reflect their value as national, as well as local, assets. For developments not of national significance, offsetting would not be appropriate where environmental loss is irreplaceable within a reasonable timeframe, such as with ancient woodlands.69

35The EAC’s assessment of the Government’s proposals illustrates how the fundamental principle of interconnectivity which underlies ecological science implies the need for a multi-scalar approach to environmental conservation, combining detailed observations of habitat specificities with an attention to the complex interrelations between species and between habitats in wider ecosystem networks. Indeed, if the hypotheses of ecological science were given prominence in policy-making circles, biodiversity offsetting could only be considered as part of an integrated approach to environmental conservation and spatial planning, involving a considerable level of policy co-ordination on a range of geographical scales and even across national boundaries.

  • 70 The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of the key findings. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, 2011, p. (...)
  • 71  NPPF, p.27.

36 The need for a more holistic approach to environmental management is acknowledged in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment of 201170 and briefly evoked in the NPPF71, but such holism hardly seems fully compatible with a localist agenda, much less with any further deregulation within a market-driven socio-economic system. Attention to environmental prerogatives requires both a sense of local attachment and a concern for interrelations operating on a larger scale. It could be argued that such a dual perspective is present in the Coalition’s stated aim of giving greater decision-making powers to local authorities, while requiring that those authorities work in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework ; however, it seems unlikely that these policy measures alone could provide the basis for a more integrated approach to environmental conservation. As we have seen, for the moment the Government’s localist agenda has yet to be borne out in practice, whilst the implementation of the NPPF up to now has been rather a cause for concern for conservationists.

  • 72  NPPF, p.28.

37 The NPPF states that new developments should not destroy “irreplaceable habitats,” such as ancient woodland, “unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss”72. Yet the criteria by which such benefits and losses might be measured and the means of weighing them up remain open to interpretation. The extension of accountancy-based cost-benefit analysis into the realm of environmental conservation suggests that there could be an increasing focus on monetised benefits and losses in decision-making processes within the planning system in the future. But attempting to place monetary values on biodiversity carries certain risks, as suggested by the EAC’s concerns about the potential applications of the concept of biodiversity offsetting. Put forward by the Coalition Government as offering a ‘win-win’ scenario which could promote environmental conservation whilst boosting the economy, if used on a large scale and without sufficient safeguards such offsetting could certainly be used to justify building developments in areas which would have previously been deemed out of bounds.

38 Combined with recent controversies about possible threats to Green Belt protection, these concerns can be seen as pointing to dilemmas which are inherent in the current socio-economic paradigm - and which are becoming more visible as the continued focus on economic growth generates increasing pressures on resources. Land use issues are likely to figure high on political agendas at the next election, but the underlying implications of such controversies go far beyond the specific problem of the mounting housing crisis. Rather, they reveal the intricacy with which social, economic and environmental issues are interconnected, and imply the need for a holistic, highly regulated approach to spatial planning which for the moment remains something of an ecologist’s grail.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

BBC News, ‘National Trust criticises draft planning reforms’, 7 September 2011. Available at: <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-14816864>, accessed September 2013.

Bingham, John, ‘Hands off our land: Lib Dems reject Coalition planning overhaul’, The Daily Telegraph, 6 December 2011. Available at: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/8937389/Hands-Off-Our-Land-Lib-Dems-reject-Coalition-planning-overhaul.html>, accessed September 2013.

Boffey, Daniel, ‘Cotswold village fights to stay small’, The Observer, 29 September 2013. Available at: <http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/29/tory-villages-homes-policy>, accessed November 2013.

Boffey, Daniel, ‘Labour pledges to build five new towns to ease shortage of new homes’, The Observer, 24 November 2013. Available at: <http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/24/labour-pledges-five-new-towns-housing>, accessed December 2013.

Brooke, Annette, ‘Planning Consultation’, Liberal Democrat Voice, 3 September 2013. Available at: <http://www.libdemvoice.org/planning-consultation-36011.html>, accessed October 2013.

Carpenter, Jamie, ‘Revised NPPF document includes brownfield test’, Planning Resource, 27 March 2012. Available at:

<http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1124321/revised-nppf-document-includes-brownfield-test>, accessed December 2013.

Carrington, Damien, ‘Ancient woodland in Kent to be destroyed for quarry site’, The Guardian, 12 July 2013. Available at:

<http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jul/12/ancient-woodland-kent-quarry-site-hermitage>, accessed September 2013.

Defra, ‘Guidance and information on biodiversity offsetting for providers and developers of offsetting schemes’. Available at:

 <https://www.gov.uk/biodiversity-offsetting>, accessed December 2013.

Defra, ‘Conserving Biodiversity - The UK Approach’, October 2007. Available at:

<http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/PDF/UKBAP_ConBio-UKApproach-2007.pdf>, accessed November 2013.

Defra, English natural environment White Paper, The Natural Choice : Securing the Value of Nature, June 2011. Available at:

<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228842/8082.pdf>, accessed November 2013.

Defra, ‘Biodiversity offsetting in England : Green Paper’, September 2013. Available at:

<https://consult.defra.gov.uk/biodiversity/biodiversity_offsetting>, accessed October 2013.

Department for Communities and Local Government, Written statement to Parliament, ‘Revoking Regional Strategies’, 6 July 2010.

Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/revoking-regional-strategies>, accessed December 2013.

Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘National Planning Policy Framework’, 27 March 2012. Available at:

<https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework-2>, accessed September 2013.

Department for Communities and Local Government, Decision letter on the planning application for the extension of Hermitage Quarry in Kent, 11 July 2013. Available at:

<https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/called-in-decision-hermitage-quarry-hermitage-lane-aylesford-ref-2158341-11-july-2013>, accessed December 2013.

Donnelly, Michael, ‘Liberal Democrats vote for NPPF review’, Planning Resource,16 September 2013. Available at:

<http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1211888/liberal-democrats-vote-nppf-review>, accessed October 2013.

Friends of the Earth press release, ‘Biodiversity ‘compensation’ proposals a licence to trash nature’, 5 September 2013. Available at: <www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/govt_plans_for_biodiversity_05092013>, accessed October 2013.

Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, ‘Planning and urban regeneration since 2010 : a recipe for conflict and dispute ?’, People, Place and Policy, 2013. vol. 7, Issue 2. Available at:

<http://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/planning-and-urban-regeneration-since-2010-a-recipe-for-conflict-and-dispute/>, accessed November 2013.

Hansard, Record of House of Commons debate, 21 March 2012, Column 800. Available at:

<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120321/debtext/120321-0001.htm#12032154001094>, accessed November 2013.

Hansard, Record of House of Commons debate on ‘Localism in planning’ held in Westminster Hall, 17 July 2013. Available at: <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130717/halltext/130717h0001.htm#13071756000213>, accessed November 2013.

HM Government, ‘The Coalition : Our Programme for Government’, 6 May 2010. Available at:

<https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-coalition-documentation>, accessed September 2013.

HM Government, Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Decentralisation and the Localism Bill : an essential guide’, 2010.

Available at:

<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5951/1793908.pdf>, accessed November 2013.

HM Government, Localism Act 2011, Section 116, Schedule 9 – Neighbourhood Planning. National Archives. Available at:

 <http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/contents>, accessed November 2013.

HM Government, Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, National Archives.

Available at:

<http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/27/contents/enacted>, accessed October 2013.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, ‘Biodiversity Offsetting’, November 2013. Available at: <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvaud/750/75002.htm>, accessed December 2013.

Jenkins, Simon, ‘Our glorious land in peril’, The Daily Telegraph, 28 Sep 2013. Available at:

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/10341432/Our-glorious-land-in-peril.html>, accessed October 2013.

Johnston, Bryan, ‘Homes win favour in planning vacuum’, Planning Resource, 1 November 2013. Available at:

<http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1218799/comment---homes-win-favour-planning-vacuum>, accessed December 2011.

Kite, Melissa, ‘David Cameron has lost the countryside’, The Spectator, 2 November 2013. Available at:

<http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9069211/rural-revolt/>, accessed December 2013.

LabourList, ‘Ed Miliband’s 2013 conference speech: Transcript’, 24 September 2013. Available at:

<http://labourlist.org/2013/09/transcript-ed-milibands-2013-conference-speech/>, accessed November 2013.

Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Hands off Britain’s countryside’, The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2011. Available at:

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/8735475/Hands-off-Britains-countryside.html>, accessed November 2013.

Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Beauty reduced to bricks and mortar’, The Daily Telegraph,15 March 2013. Available at:

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/9932991/Beauty-reduced-to-bricks-and-mortar.html>, accessed November 2013.

Lewis, Brandon, ‘Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament’ issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, 1 July 2013. Available at:

<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130701/wmstext/130701m0001.htm#13070130000004>, accessed December 2013.

Local Government Association, Response to the House of Lords second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. Available at:

<http://www.local.gov.uk/briefings-and-responses/-/journal_content/56/10180/3839839/ARTICLE>, accessed December 2013.

Mathiesen, Karl, ‘Is biodiversity offsetting a licence to trash nature?’ The Guardian, 12 December 2013. Available at:

<http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/12/biodiversity-offsetting-license-trash-nature>, accessed December 2013.

McCann, Kate, ‘Government announces National Planning Policy Framework’, The Guardian, 27 March 2012. Available at:

<http://www.theguardian.com/local-government-network/2012/mar/27/reaction-nppf-publication-greg-clark>, accessed September 2013.

Miner, Paul, ‘What the NPPF means for the natural environment’, Planning Resource, 3 April 2012. Available at:

<http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1125619/nppf-means-for-natural-environment>, accessed December 2013.

Office for National Statistics, ‘Statistical Bulletin: Population and Household Estimates for the United Kingdom’, March 2011. Available at:

<http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/population-estimates-by-five-year-age-bands--and-household-estimates--for-local-authorities-in-the-united-kingdom/stb-population-and-household-estimates-for-the-united-kingdom-march-2011.html>, accessed December 2013.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, ‘A response by the Campaign to Protect Rural England to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework’, October 2011. Available at:

<http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/planning/item/2583-cpres-response-to-the-draft-national-planning-policy-framework-consultation>, accessed December 2013.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, ‘Area of Green Belt under threat nearly doubles in a year’, 23 August 2013. Available at:

<http://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/3402-green-belt-threat>, accessed September 2013.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, ‘Green Belt: Under renewed threat?’, CPRE briefing paper, August 2012. Available at:

<http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/green-belts/item/3015-green-belt-under-renewed-threat>, accessed November 2013.

The Economist, ‘Ed Miliband and housing: Building credibility’, 24 September 2013. Available at:

<http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2013/09/ed-miliband-and-housing>, accessed November 2013.

The Wildlife Trusts, ‘Thoughts on Biodiversity Offsetting’. Available at:

<http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/biodiversityoffsetting>, accessed December 2013.

UK NEA, The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of the key findings. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, 2011. Available at:

<http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/documents/UKNEA_SynthesisReport.pdf>, accessed November 2013.

Haut de page

Notes

1  In 2011, the National Census findings estimated the average population density in England to be 407 people per square kilometre, compared to 148 people per square kilometre in Wales, 134 people per square kilometre in Northern Ireland and 68 people per square kilometre in Scotland. See: ONS, ‘Statistical Bulletin: Population and Household Estimates for the United Kingdom’, March 2011.

2  HM Government, ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’, 26 May 2010, p.11.

3  See, for example, HM Government, Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Decentralisation and the Localism Bill: an essential guide’, 2010.

4  ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’, p.11.

5 Ibid.

6  Department for Communities and Local Government, Written Statement to Parliament, ‘Revoking Regional Strategies’, 6 July 2010.

7   HM Government, Localism Act 2011, Section 116, Schedule 9: Neighbourhood Planning. National Archives.

8  See Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, ‘Planning and urban regeneration since 2010: a recipe for conflict and dispute?’, People, Place and Policy, 2013. Vol. 7, Issue 2, p.88.

9 Ibid.

10   George Osborne in his Budget speech to the House of Commons, 21 March 2012. Hansard record of a House of Commons Debate, 21 March 2012, Column 800.

11 Ibid.

12  Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, p.87.

13  BBC News, ‘National Trust criticises draft planning reforms’, 7 September 2011.

14  CPRE, ‘A response by the Campaign to Protect Rural England to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework’, October 2011, p.2.

15  Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Hands off Britain’s countryside’, The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2011.   

16  Bingham, John, ‘Hands off our land: Lib Dems reject Coalition planning overhaul’, The Daily Telegraph, 6 December 2011.     

17  Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘National Planning Policy Framework’, (NPPF), 27 March 2012, p.2.

18  Carpenter, Jamie, ‘Revised NPPF Document includes brownfield test’, Planning Resource, 27 March 2012.

19  McCann, Kate, ‘Government announces National Planning Policy Framework’, The Guardian, 27 March 2012.

20  NPPF, p.13.

21  NPPF, p.37.

22  Goodchild, Barry and Hammond, Catherine, p.87.

23  NPPF, p.4.

24  Ibid.

25  HM Government, Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, Sections 62a and 62b.    

26  Local Government Association, Response to the House of Lords second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.

27  Conservative M.P Nick Boles was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning in September 2012.

28  Hansard, Record of a House of Commons debate on ‘Localism in planning’ held in Westminster Hall, 17 July 2013.

29  Kite, Melissa, ‘David Cameron has lost the countryside’, The Spectator, 2 November 2013.     

30  Donnelly, Michael, ‘Liberal Democrats vote for NPPF review’, Planning Resource, 16 September 2013.    

31  Brooke, Annette, ‘Planning Consultation’, Liberal Democrat Voice, 3 September 2013.

32  Jenkins, Simon, ‘Our glorious land in peril’, The Daily Telegraph, 28 September 2013.

33   In August 2013 the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published a report claiming that 150,000 houses and over 1,000 hectares of mines, offices and warehouses were planned for Green Belt sites - an increase of 84% from the previous year. See: CPRE, ‘Area of Green Belt under threat nearly doubles in a year’, 23 August 2013.

34  Lean, Geoffrey, ‘Beauty reduced to bricks and mortar’, The Daily Telegraph,15 March 2013.    

35  NPPF, p.20.

36  Lewis, Brandon, ‘Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament’ issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, 1 July 2013.

37  Hansard, Record of a House of Commons debate on ‘Localism in Planning’, 17 July 2013.

38  Miner, Paul, ‘What the NPPF means for the natural environment’, Planning Resource, 3 April 2012.

39  CPRE briefing paper, ‘Green Belt: Under renewed threat?’, August 2012.

40 The Economist, ‘Ed Miliband and housing: Building credibility’, 24 September 2013.

41  LabourList, ‘Ed Miliband’s 2013 conference speech: Transcript’, 24 September 2013.

42  Boffey, Daniel, ‘Labour pledges to build five new towns to ease shortage of new homes’, The Observer, 24 November 2013.

43  Johnston, Bryan, ‘Homes win favour in planning vacuum’, Planning Resource, 1 November 2013.

44  Boffey, Daniel, ‘Cotswold village fights to stay small’, The Observer, 29 September 2013.    

45  Decision Letter on the planning application for the extension of Hermitage Quarry in Kent, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 11 July 2013; paragraph 14.

46  Carrington, Damien, ‘Ancient woodland in Kent to be destroyed for quarry site’, The Guardian, 12 July 2013.

47  DCLG, Decision Letter on the planning application for the extension of Hermitage Quarry in Kent, paragraph 18.

48  NPPF, p.27.

49  See Defra’s guidance and information on biodiversity offsetting for providers and developers of offsetting schemes:  https://www.gov.uk/biodiversity-offsetting

50  Defra, ‘Conserving Biodiversity - The UK Approach’, October 2007.    

51  See: <http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/economics/>

52  Defra, English Natural Environment White Paper, The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature, June 2011, p.11.

53  The schemes were set up to run for two years.

    See: <https://www.gov.uk/biodiversity-offsetting>

54  Defra, ‘Biodiversity Offsetting in England: Green Paper’, September 2013. The consultation ran until 7 November 2013.

55  Ibid., p.1.

56  Ibid., p. 2.

57  Ibid.

58  Ibid., p.4.

59  Ibid., p. 5.

60  Friends of the Earth press release, ‘Biodiversity ‘compensation’ proposals a licence to trash nature’,  5 September 2013.

61  Ibid.

62  Ibid.

63  Mathiesen, Karl, ‘Is biodiversity offsetting a licence to trash nature?’ The Guardian, 12 December 2013.

64  The Wildlife Trusts, ‘Thoughts on biodiversity offsetting’.

65  The Environmental Audit Committee is a Commons Select Committee whose remit is “to consider the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance against sustainable development and environmental protection targets.” See:

      <http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/role/>

66  House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, ‘Biodiversity offsetting’, 12 November 2013.

67 Ibid., p.13.

68 Ibid., p.10.

69 Ibid., p.3.

70 The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of the key findings. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, 2011, p.55.

71  NPPF, p.27.

72  NPPF, p.28.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Claire Sibley-Esposito, « Not out of the woods yet : Spatial planning (de)regulation under the Coalition Government », Observatoire de la société britannique, 15 | 2014, 189-214.

Référence électronique

Claire Sibley-Esposito, « Not out of the woods yet : Spatial planning (de)regulation under the Coalition Government », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 15 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2014, consulté le 18 août 2017. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1644 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1644

Haut de page

Auteur

Claire Sibley-Esposito

PRAG à l'Université de Toulon

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Observatoire de la société britannique

Haut de page
  • Logo Université de Toulon
  • Logo Laboratoire Babel
  • Revues.org