Ministers have gone on the offensive over claims that the Coalition’s planning reforms will weaken countryside protection.
The Government is strongly rejecting claims made by the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England
Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark accused the Trust of 'nihilistic selfishness' after the Trust warned of “damaging development in undesignated countryside”.
The minister told the Financial Times that those claims were “unfounded”. He added: “The principal campaigning point seems to be the loss of the Green Belt. There is nothing in the policy that would lead to a significant loss of Green Belt.
“The National Trust had on their website an aerial shot of Los Angeles in some risible idea that this was the future of Britain.”
He stressed that Green Belt, national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) would remain protected.
Departmental colleague, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell, has reinforced that message.
“The Coalition Government is committed to safeguarding the natural and historic environment and has made this very clear in the draft National Planning Policy Framework which protects the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many other natural areas including ancient woodland,” he said.
“We need sustainable growth to provide the jobs and homes we need but this will not be at the expense of the environment. Our streamlining of the planning system does not give the green light to development everywhere and the doomsday scenario being played out by certain groups that reform will wreck the environment does not stack up. Development will be expected to be sustainable and well-designed if it is to go ahead.”
25 August 2011