Environment

News and in-depth coverage of environmental issues and the effect of climate change on town planning.

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Environment News

Helen Nyul, group head of biodiversity, Barratt Developments speaking at today's Planning Summit in London (Credit: Wayne Campbell)

New rules put real financial pressure on developers to avoid valuable habitats, says housebuilder

Developers face a new commercial imperative to avoid locations of high value wildlife, a housebuilder told a London conference today.

Environmental assessment: aerial view of housing (Pic: Getty)

Levelling Up Bill to scrap environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) will be scrapped by the government’s new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and replaced by a new “outcomes-based” approach to examining the likely environmental impact of proposed projects and plans.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government (Credit: Finnbarr Webster c/o Getty Images)

Six more ways in which the Levelling Up Bill would change planning, including dropping five year housing land supply requirements

With additional implications of the bill and its associated documents continuing to emerge, Planning highlights more key things that you need to know about their contents.

Councils are isolating as they deal with application backlogs (Credit: Jose A. Bernat Bacete c/o Getty Images)

Why growing numbers of council planning teams are isolating while they tackle application backlogs

A Hampshire council’s planning department last month decided to ignore nearly all customer queries for a two-week period as officers focused on tackling an application backlog. It follows similar action by a Dorset authority at the end of last year. Commentators say they expect more over-stretched council planning teams to follow suit.

The Houses of Parliament (pic: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Lauren - geograph.org.uk/p/7107654)

23 ways in which the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill would change planning

The government has introduced its much-anticipated Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill to Parliament, with the bill including a raft of changes to the planning system, including around developer contributions, environmental assessment and enforcement.

Prince Charles delivering the Queen's Speech (Credit: WPA Pool c/o Getty Images)

Levelling up bill will introduce a new infrastructure levy and 'speed up' plan-making

A Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill promising to introduce a new infrastructure levy, speed up the local plan production process, and revise environmental assessments has been included in today's Queen's Speech.

Latest Environment Opinion

Legal Viewpoint: Assessing indirect likely significant effects – how far to drill down?

The environmental impact assessment process requires the preparation by the applicant of an environmental statement which must assess the likely significant effects – direct and indirect – of the proposed development on the environment. In what is a fertile ground for legal challenge, those preparing environmental statements have long grappled with the lengths to which they must go to address indirect effects.

Why new biodiversity rules may not radically change the landscape for big infrastructure. By Angus Walker

When nationally significant infrastructure projects were added to legislation requiring developments to enhance biodiversity, the aim was to make compulsory land acquisition easier, but things have not turned out that way.

Letter: Making development deliver biodiversity improvements will be easier than you suggest

Meeting the government’s requirement that by 2023 schemes should bring ten per cent biodiversity net gain is very doable, says Professor David Hill

Why developers may need to cut their reliance on single-use resources sooner than they think, by Cliff Hague

Although the National Planning Policy Framework makes only oblique reference to the circular economy, some local authorities are already embedding the concept into policy.

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Environment In Depth

Ashridge Common (Credit: Alan Kent c/o Creative Commons Licence via geograph.org)

Why a freeze on decisions near a protected site could delay tens of thousands of new homes

New Natural England advice aiming to prevent damage from visitors to a protected Hertfordshire site has triggered a moratorium on planning decisions for new housing across several council areas. Practitioners say the situation could last for up to a year, might hold up consents for tens of thousands of new homes and potentially spread to other designated habitats close to urban areas.

Algae in a protected waterway near the Solent (Credit: Julian Dodd)

What the government’s expansion of nutrient neutrality advice means for councils and developers

The government’s conservation advisor has issued new advice on mitigating water pollution from housebuilding, which has more than doubled the number of councils affected to 74. Experts expect this will immediately halt decisions on housing applications in all these areas, which could reduce permissions for new homes this year by more than 20,000.

The Houses of Parliament (Credit: Ian.CuiYi c/o Getty Images)

What to expect from the levelling up bill and other policy changes this spring

The latest intelligence on the planning changes that the government has in the pipeline

New housing development under construction

How the Environment Act changes the planning system

A requirement for new developments to enhance nature by 10 per cent and the introduction of local nature recovery strategies are among the changes ushered in by the government’s flagship environmental legislation late last year.