Barrow Common, a County Wildlife Site in Norfolk

County Wildlife Sites threatened by government planning changes

Friday 27 April, 2018

From ancient woodlands and flower meadows to wildlife oases in our towns and cities, there are thousands of quiet, often unnoticed places where wildlife thrives. They are known nationally as Local Wildlife Sites and in Norfolk as County Wildlife Sites.  Now, the Government is proposing to take all reference to Local Wildlife Sites out of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This means removing their protection from development.

There are more than 42,000 Local Wildlife Sites in England with 1,300 in Norfolk alone, making up nearly 3% of Norfolk’s land area.

Currently Local Wildlife Sites are recognised in national planning policy, which protects them from being developed for housing, roads or industry. Even with this protection, some are threatened by development each year, as is the case with Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew that is subject to a planning inquiry later in May.

A recent national survey of more than 6,500 Local Wildlife Sites showed that 11% had been lost or damaged in the last five years and loss to development was a significant cause. This is happening even with the basic levels of protection.

The Government is proposing to take all reference to Local Wildlife Sites out of the National Planning Policy Framework. This means removing protection for all Local Wildlife Sites. This is happening even though references to historic sites with equivalent protection to Local Wildlife Sites are being retained. Currently all Norfolk local authorities have policies designed to protect County Wildlife Sites from development and these policies have largely been successful.

Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce OBE said:

“We believe this could be a disaster for our wildlife. The Government makes much of its ambition to be ‘the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it’. County Wildlife Sites lie at the heart of nature’s recovery and form a key component of ecological networks, which elsewhere in the NPPF the government seeks to protect. Norfolk has taken the lead in drawing up ecological network maps, which are designed to steer development away from wildlife areas and improve connections between them. County Wildlife Sites are key stepping stones within this network and any loss will severely damage the network.

“It is vital Government does not leave these sites unprotected. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, along with other wildlife trusts will be responding to this government consultation urging them to re-instate Local Wildlife Sites within the NPPF and are urging others to do the same.”

Add your voice to the campaign to ensure their continued recognition in planning guidance at
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