LETTER: Ecological policies are inadequate

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Sussex – Horsham District in its response to the consultation on the Horsham District Planning Framework Preferred Strategy has objected to HDC’s draft policies relating to the natural environment, biodiversity, priority habitats and ecological networks because in their wording and content these policies are inadequate.

They do not comply fully as they should with the requirements and obligations placed on local planning authorities by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the statutory Acts and Regulations that inform and underpin the NPPF. Regrettably, the value and benefits of biodiversity are not adequately recognised by HDC in its Preferred Strategy.

The wording and content of these policies, against which future planning applications will be considered, matter greatly because in their present and inadequate form they would be exploited by developers to enable inappropriate and unconstrained development on countryside – across Horsham District. Unfortunately, our concerns and objections have been omitted from the ‘Summary of Comments’ received’ prepared by HDC’s officers that is supposed ‘to ensure that all members are aware of the issues that have been raised as a result of the consultation’.

HDC should be mindful of NPPF – Local Plans - Paragraph 152, which stipulates that: ‘Local planning authorities should seek opportunities to achieve each of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and net gains across all three.’.

As it stands, HDC’s Preferred Strategy with its unbalanced emphasis on economic growth does not meet this requirement – and risks rejection by the Planning Inspectorate.

Councils elsewhere have produced local plans that do match the requirements of the NPPF regarding the natural environment, priority habitats and ecological networks.

We ask that HDC does likewise.

Dr R.F. SMITH

For CPRE Sussex - Horsham District, Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield