Conservation charities yesterday warned the Government that its forthcoming reform of the planning system threatens the natural environment.
In a policy brief issued a few hours before the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill was reviewed at the House of Lords, the Campaign to Protect Rural England proposed a series of amendments.
Supported by 10 not-for-profit organisations, including the Woodland Trust and the Marine Conservation Society, the charity argued that the wording in the current Planning Act 1990, requiring development plans to preserve the environment, should be re-introduced to the new bill.
The CPRE claims the Government has lost sight of the philosophy that lies behind planning, which should focus on managing land and not speeding economic development.
"This is the moment of truth for the Government with planning," said Henry Oliver, head of planning at the CPRE. "Either it accepts amendments to its Planning Bill, or we shall all suffer the consequences for years to come."
"There is a grave danger that the Government sees planning as a way of forcing through development, regardless of the long-term environmental cost," he added.