November 15, 2020 12:48 PM

Vivienne Parry, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow South is writing to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government amid concerns about the future of key environmental sites such as SSSIs if the new planning proposals become law.

Vivienne said: "I have been very concerned about the direction that house building is taking in out County for some time. Now the Government. What is particularly concerning about this plan is that it seems to give developers a free hand to build on any 'allocated land' without needing any process at all. In Shropshire, this means that the allocated sites, now being consulted on, could have houses built without regard for local need."

"My further concern is that it doesn't take this opportunity to enhance protection given to our key green spaces such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest at a time when research suggests that 30% of these sites are being degraded by adjoining developments mainly by lack of enforcement.

"We have 110+ SSSIs in Shropshire covering a whole range of endangered habitats. At the same time as proposing these planning changes, the Government have cut Natural England's (who are charged with enforcing SSSI regulations) budget drastically.

"Lastly I am also concerned about the future of our AONB** and its role in protecting our landscape. The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers almost a quarter of the land area of Shropshire.

"When Michael Gove was the DEFRA Minister he commissioned Julian Glover*** to make a report on the future of National Parks and AONBs. The report recommended that AONB be given greater power over planning development which would be a real boost for conservation. The Government, however, has shelved this part of the report.

"We really need to get planning right for Shropshire. We need a regime that preserves our landscape and biodiversity whilst at the same time addressing the needs of local families, not developers' profits. What is critical, however, is that Central Government gets is act together. The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Defra seem to be pulling in different directions on this issue whilst the Prime Minister continues to make pledges on the environment with little real money to back it up."

STOP PRESS: 'Governments announcement on £40m for environmental schemes pure tokenism. Less than one pound per resident of England is hardly going to do much to address the problem of massive habitat loss.' Vivienne Parry.