CLA responds to queen’s speech -

Responding to Government’s priorities set out in the Queen’s Speech, CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “We welcome government’s recognition of the need to modernise the planning system – but they must ensure that reforms apply as much to the countryside as they do urban environments.”

Responding to the Queen’s Speech today, Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“This was the third successive Queen’s Speech which has promised to pass an Environment Bill. With half of wildlife already in long-term decline, there's no time to lose – the Government must bring the Bill back as a matter of urgency – and proceed to deliver it as quickly as possible. We cannot tackle the climate crisis and meet our net zero target without similar ambition to meet the nature crisis head on – the two are inseparable. If the Government wants to keep its commitment to passing the Bill ahead of the COP26 climate change conference in November, we must see the Bill back in Parliament before the end of this month. We also hope the Government has used the delay to strengthen the Bill when it returns. Despite the Prime Minister’s ambition to be a world leader, we live in one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. The Bill must put in law the Prime Minister’s commitment to turn around nature’s decline by 2030. A clear, legally-binding target to reverse the loss of nature within a decade would ensure every part of Government takes urgent action to help bring nature back. New legislation to modernise the planning system must also help our efforts to tackle the nature and climate crisis. The obstacle to house building is not environmental protections, but turning the vast unused planning permissions into homes. The Planning Bill must contribute to the recovery of nature through a new Wildbelt – a bold designation which will protect land that’s put into recovery for nature, helping to tackle climate change and levelling-up access to green space.”

Planning Bill could bulldoze Environment Bill, warns CPRE

Reacting to the Queen’s Speech, Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: ‘The Planning Bill looks set to prioritise developers’ needs over local communities, provide no new environmental safeguards and could slow the delivery of genuinely affordable homes in many areas. All in all, it risks creating a free for all for development. We know from painful experience that without the right checks and balances in the planning process, developments can lead to a huge and unnecessary loss of countryside while doing nothing to tackle the affordable housing crisis or level up. That’s why we urgently need more joined up thinking from the government if we are to address the nature and climate emergencies. On the one hand, we’ve got the Environmental Bill being touted as world beating legislation to leave nature in a better state than we found it over the next 25 years. On the other hand, we have a Planning Bill that looks set to take us back to a deregulated dark age of development. The government must urgently rethink the Planning Bill. If not, we’re facing an open season for developers on large parts of the countryside, and a fatal weakening of local communities right to be heard on the future of their area.’

RSPB responds to the Queen's speech

Beccy Speight, RSPB Chief Executive, said: “A healthy and thriving natural world is fundamental to our pandemic recovery in every aspect of life in England, with the last year highlighting how much access to nature means for our mental and physical health. So we cannot allow the widely criticised Environment Bill to become an afterthought or support changes to the planning system destined to make it easier to destroy natural spaces. There is a growing gap between what our Prime Minister says and what his Government actually delivers. Our politicians have acknowledged that we are in a nature and climate emergency, but our Government seems unwilling to act urgently and with a matching degree of ambition to the growing body of scientific reports showing that the UK’s wildlife is not simply at risk but is disappearing. Whilst the Environment Bill made a welcome return in the Queen's Speech today, it is imperative that it is debated as soon as possible. There is cross-party support for an amendment to set legally binding targets to halt and reverse wildlife declines in the UK by 2030, along with other amendments that would help to make the currently proposed Bill strong enough to address the crisis. We need a leader who acts on his strong commitments to protect the environment and a Secretary of State who will deliver firm actions rather than more soft words."

Posted on: 11 May 2021

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