Slimline approach to Boost Growth? Watch this space.

For years the imposition of environmental protections around the country have created moratoriums preventing the grant of planning permissions and economic growth.  In many circumstances, the outcome is purely a mathematically formulae that is then applied to developments to establish how much a developer should financially contribute to mitigate the harm.  It is therefore often a mystery to the development industry as to why it can take so long to provide this “solution” to a problem.

Similarly, the confusion and complexity of the 10% biodiversity net gain stumps not only developers, but also local authorities and even ecologists.  Preliminary ecology reports are required to establish what reports and surveys are required, and even then with the surveys carried out, further reports are required to agree mitigation measures, and don’t forget the discharge of post decision conditions and also licence applications (not part of planning).

Simply put, the current framework for considering and mitigating ecology issues is cumbersome, incredibly complex, causes significant delays, and desperately needs reviewing and simplifying, whilst maintaining an objective of protecting and mitigating harm.

If reports from the papers and planning journals are anything to go by, the Government’s Levelling Up Secretary is planning to announce next week proposals to “slim down environmental protections to boost growth”.  This could be both through scrapping the nutrient neutrality rules and to ease the impending requirements for all developments to include a biodiversity net gain of ten per cent in all their new projects.  This would be good for development and growth, but what will be put in its place to protect against harm?

Whilst there may well be a political backlash to these announcements, and as usual, many may fall by the wayside, but through the Government announcements next week, if it does bring about a better, more streamlined and effective way of assessing and addressing environmental impacts of development, then this has got to be progress for both the development industry as well as the environmentalists.