Environment white paper panned for failing to connect policy areas

GreenLink response highlights shortcomings in proposed legislation for the natural environment.

Anne McIntosh will examine how proposals will improve quality of life - image: HW
Anne McIntosh will examine how proposals will improve quality of life - image: HW

Green-space leaders have accused the Government of sending out conflicting messages and promoting disconnected policies in its natural environment white paper.

GreenLink, the coalition of park groups headed by GreenSpace, responded to a select committee call for comments on the white paper back in July.

In the draft response to MPs, industry leaders said policies, political ambitions and long-term planning needed more alignment. They added that conflicting messages skewed the balance between economic growth and planning with environmental and social gains.

The response was prompted by the environment, food and rural affairs committee, which announced a new inquiry into the white paper in the summer. Chair Anne McIntosh said the paper was the first of its kind for 20 years.

"Our inquiry will ask how well the Government's proposals are likely to protect the environment for future generations, make the economy more environmentally sustainable or improve quality of life and well-being."

GreenLink said details of the key draft planning-policy framework were "inadequate and vague" when it came to defining sustainable development. An "apparent disconnection" between different departments' strategic policies and priorities also had to be addressed.

The response added: "At a time when there is increased impetus to further expand this area of activity, the relentless and disproportionate cuts to local authority green-space budgets are endangering the sector's ability to sustain current levels of community engagement."

GreenLink warned the Government not to axe funding. Economic growth could only be achieved within environmental limits, it said. Of the "three overlapping ideals of economic growth, social unity and environmental quality, the functioning environment always underpins the other principles".

The Government refused to comment until the deadline for comments from interested parties has passed on 26 September. For further details about the inquiry, contact Sarah Coe, environment specialist to the committee, on 020 7219 2290.

KeyStat

20yrs - The time that has elapsed since comparable legislation has been considered by Parliament


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