Fears for England’s natural beauty spots as UK planning regulations relax

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) today highlighted fears for England’s natural beauty spots. The charity claims that a relaxation of government planning policy in favor of UK growth and development will threaten the future integrity of England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB’s).

Proposals for nuclear power plants, motor-ways, housing developments, mining and onshore wind farms are all at present going through planning, and are expected to degrade AONB’s if accepted. These include well knows beauty spots that are regarded as both highly important for native biodiversity conservation and outdoor recreation such as Kent Downs and the Cotswold AONB.

One such application is that of ‘High Speed 2’ – a newly proposed railway to connect London and the Midlands. The new line however infringes on the Chiltern hills AONB and an ancient woodland reserve in Park Hall, making the development a controversial subject.

The Localism Bill, including decisions to relax planning, has reached Committee stage and will be discussed by the House of Lords tomorrow. The publication of a new National Planning Policy Framework detailing future plans is expected later this month.