Will the Government’s green pledge play out in planning decisions?
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
In September 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a pledge to protect an extra 400,000 hectares of English countryside to support the recovery of nature, saying biodiversity loss was happening at a frightening rate which, if left unchecked, would have catastrophic consequences for us all.
Boris and leaders representing 79 countries came together at a United Nations event to commit to reducing biodiversity loss by 2030. In a Leaders’ Pledge for Nature they stated: “Nature fundamentally underpins human health, wellbeing and prosperity. We need to appropriately value nature and the services it provides as we make decisions and recognise that the business case for biodiversity is compelling.”
They went on: “To put the world on the right track towards this long-term goal will require strong political will… Everyone, governments, business and individuals, has a role to play.”
Among the promises was a commitment to mainstreaming biodiversity into “relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral policies at all levels.… including extractive industries”.
Environmentalists welcomed the pledge, but believed any change in thinking was needed immediately. Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust, said it was a "good start" but that "a much greater level of urgent action" was needed to put nature into recovery.
Given the political will and the strong words issued by Boris, it would seem unthinkable that a 33-year project to extract clay and create a construction material landfill/recycling site in 15 acres of established woodland would ever see the light of day.
The site Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd is proposing to develop is a greenfield site of broadleaved woodland, grassland and native scrub with multiple wildlife habitats set to be destroyed by their industrial project. The increased disturbance would not only affect the species and habitat within the development area, but beyond the site boundary, too.
As Boris said, we all have a role to play in preventing biodiversity loss – and that means making our voices heard when Protreat Ltd does submit its planning application to West Sussex County Council.
Whether the decision makers will turn words into meaningful action remains to be seen.
How to get involved:
Sign the petition at change.org
Discuss the plans with friends and neighbours
Check back to the website for updates