Sustainability and the draft NPPF. Greg Clarks attack on the National Trust.


in News, NPPF, Opinion

Mr Clark, the politician responsible for the Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), last week attacked the National Trust for highlighting the potential negative impacts it may have on the natural spaces closest to our towns and cities.

In his interview with the Financial Times he said that the claims made by the National Trust are ‘risible’.

Is it ‘risible’ when an MP twists the term ‘sustainable development’ to only mean economic growth or is it just a worrying use of the worst kind of greenwashing?

Thank goodness there are charities out there using their resources to keep us aware of any potential problems there may be with the myriad of new policies the coalition government are throwing at us. The National Trust have now responded to Mr Clark. Saying;

“We believe strongly that any development must meet the needs of people, the environment as well as the economy.
The government has failed to do this in its reforms. It has put short term financial gain ahead of everything else. It has failed to protect the everyday places that local communities love. It has given the power in planning to the already powerful.”

The National Trust

The biggest issue with the draft NPPF is the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. It’s easy to assume that “sustainable development” means; new homes/businesses built on the existing thousands of hectares of brownfield sites, in a low impact and “sustainable” way (all solar panels, insulation and no concrete). Who would argue with that? Certainly not me.

Sadly, it seems that Mr Clark has settled on a solely economic interpretation of sustainable development in relation to the NPPF. A financial quick fix. This could result in large areas of countryside (greenfield sites) in and around our towns and cities being developed in the name of economic growth. With governmental pressure on local authorities to create five year house building plans, local communities who (under the proposed Localism Bill) are responsible for deciding what gets built where, could be forced to agree to the loss of their natural spaces.

If that’s an unfair assessment then government needs to clarify for us ‘non-experts’.

It’s worth taking a minute to remember the whole reason the Save Our Woods website exists. At the beginning of the Save Our Forests campaign we didn’t understand or believe what the MP’s were telling us. It took a lot of work to rummage through the MP generated rubbish to get at the truth. When the truth was shared, well over half a million of us made enough noise to force the MP’s to think again.

It’s the same this time.


Sustainable development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”(Brundtland report)

Sustainable development is not just about economic growth, that is a contradiction in terms. Sustainable development has to address the interconnected ‘whole’ of our environment and our ability to live healthily as a part of it, for an indefinite number of generations.

Yet again it seems we are fighting to protect the natural landscape for the future needs of our young people.

When will it be accepted by government that natural green spaces are vital to the health and well being of our communities and developing the greenfield land most accessible to our villages and towns is a terrible mistake? Why aren’t they creating policy to ensure development of brownfield sites?

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John Honeyman August 30, 2011 at 18:59

I had the good fortune to enjoy a trip from west yorkshire through a good part of north lincolnshire to Lincoln itself. It was marred somewhat by the observation of over 8 small to medium housing developments on obviouosly greenfield sites, probably involving an average area of no more than 2-4Ha. This is happening now before the NPPF, on land (particularly in Lincolnshire) graded better than 3a – which was always inviolate and never to be built on, as its agricultural quality was too good to lose. Our countryside is already being rapidly eroded, developers and their links to the various housing associations – in some part funded by the tax payer are holding sway – It is time that changed, before the only green shoot our ancestors see is some Japanese Knotweed poking through the concrete!

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