More information on our role in planning, including advice on the Water Framework Directive and spatial planning.
What is planning policy?
We work with other government departments and agencies to make sure that planning systems in England and Wales fulfill statutory duties and developments protect and enhance the environment.
The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, Planning Act 2008 and Localism Action 2010 introduced changes to the planning system in England and Wales. We supported those changes, especially the emphasis placed on sustainable development and climate change, spatial planning, increased neighbourhood involement and quality outcomes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) replaces most former planning policy in England in March 2012. We will help to delivery it through our involvement in the planning system. We are reviewing our website and advice to local authorities to reflect the NPPF.
The new spatial planning system, guidance and policy from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) provide an opportunity for us to deliver policies and proposals for sustainable development.
We are a 'specific consultation body' and aim to comment on all plans and strategies for Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) and Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) in England and Local Development Plans in Wales.
We have also been identified as one of the 'Environmental Consultation Bodies' for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Sustainability Appraisal (SA).
Our key issues
We aim to protect and enhance the environment by looking at economic and social drivers, paying particular attention to:
- flood risk management
- water quality and water resources, including as a 'competent authority', the implementation of the Water Framework Directive
- waste management
- industry regulation
- biodiversity, including responsibility for 39 species and 5 habitats within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan
- land contamination and soil.
The Water Framework Directive
The European Water Framework Directive came into force in December 2000 and became part of UK law in December 2003. It gives us an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment, focussing on ecology.
The Water Framework Directive and Planning - Initial Advice to Planning Authorities
With the Royal Town Planning Institute, Local Government Association and Welsh Local Government Association we outlined implications to spatial planners about the Water Framework Directive. Although if refers to English national planning policy that has been replaced, the advice is still relevant under the NPPF. We will review all of our advice to take account of the NPPF.
We want to see a cleaner, healthier marine environment that will be a better place for people, wildlife and businesses.
Environmental Quality in Spatial Planning (England only)
Working with English Heritage and Natural England (previously English Nature and the Countryside Agency), we developed guidance and checklist on the preparation of RSSs and LDFs, and accompanying Sustainability Appraisals/SEAs. Although it refers to English national planning policy that has been replaced, much of the advice is still relevant under the NPPF. We will review all of our advice to take account of the NPPF.
This guidance sets out the approach, vision, objectives, policies and recommended practice for those writing plans and strategies.
The report and additional files are available to download below: