‘We have a Planning Bill that looks set to take us back to a deregulated dark age of development’

Tom Fyans: ‘The government must urgently rethink the Planning Bill’

The Planning Bill highlighted in last week’s Queen’s Speech (Tuesday, May 11) has been blasted by CPRE, the countryside charity.
Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, said: “The Planning Bill looks set to prioritise developers’ needs over local communities, provide no new environmental safeguards and could slow the delivery of genuinely affordable homes in many areas. All in all, it risks creating a free-for-all for development.
“We know from painful experience that without the right checks and balances in the planning process, developments can lead to a huge and unnecessary loss of countryside while doing nothing to tackle the affordable housing crisis or level up.
“That’s why we urgently need more joined-up thinking from the government if we are to address the nature and climate emergencies. On the one hand, we’ve got the Environment Bill being touted as world-beating legislation to leave nature in a better state than we found it over the next 25 years. On the other hand, we have a Planning Bill that looks set to take us back to a deregulated dark age of development.
“The government must urgently rethink the Planning Bill. If not, we’re facing an open season for developers on large parts of the countryside, and a fatal weakening of local communities’ right to be heard on the future of their area.”

Monday, May 17, 2021

Don’t forget the nature: CPRE responds to 10-point environment plan

Woods store huge amounts of carbon… and they’re a good place for a stroll (pic Julie Davies)

CPRE, the countryside charity, says the prime minister’s “green industrial revolution” aimed at tackling climate change and creating jobs in such industries as nuclear energy, has missed the vital role played by nature.
Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan was announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 17), with the headline statement being that cars and vans powered wholly by petrol or diesel will not be sold in this country from 2030.
Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, however, has highlighted the lack of emphasis on the natural environment.
He said: “Nature should be playing a starring role in tackling the climate emergency alongside the rapid carbon emissions cuts in our transport, energy, homes and food.
“While new technology is rightly being rolled out across the country to slash emissions, the government should also be getting back to basics and harnessing the potential of the countryside to soak up carbon emissions and prevent runaway climate change.   
“Hedgerows, peatlands, trees, grasslands and many other parts of our countryside store vast amounts of carbon. It’s no wonder peatlands are seen as the UK’s rainforest when, in their natural state, they safely lock away over three billion tonnes of carbon.
“MPs will be debating a long-awaited ban on the burning of moorlands hours after the launch of the prime minister’s 10-point plan. It’s never been clearer that more needs to be done to grab the low-hanging fruit that are nature-based solutions and end our contribution to the climate emergency.
“The prime minister is absolutely right that action to tackle climate change should boost economic growth and benefit communities right across the country.
“It is encouraging to see the renewed focus on energy efficiency for existing homes. It is now more important than ever that new schemes aimed to reduce our emissions also improve people’s lives by tackling fuel poverty and poor air quality and improve public transport and access to nature and green space.
“It’s time for government to step up and deliver real action to tackle the climate emergency.” 
Some £4 billion has been earmarked for the plan – a total that has been criticised by some commentators as too small a figure.
The BBC has listed the 10 points as follows:
Offshore wind: Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030, and supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
Hydrogen: Have five gigawatts of “low carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – and develop the first town heated by the gas by the end of the decade.
Nuclear: Pushing nuclear power as a clean energy source and including provision for a large nuclear plant, as well as for advanced small nuclear reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
Electric vehicles: Phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and investing in grants to help buy cars and charge point infrastructure.
Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport for the future.
Jet zero and greener maritime: Supporting research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
Carbon capture: Developing world-leading technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 – equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber.
Nature: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, with plans to include planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year.
Innovation and finance: Developing cutting-edge technologies and making the City of London the global centre of green finance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

How the Chancellor’s ‘mini-Budget’ missed the mark on transport and housing

‘We are urging the government to scrap the planned road spending and put this money to much better use’

CPRE, the countryside charity, has said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘mini-Budget’ missed the mark on transport and housing.
The Chancellor had been aiming to revive the economy through his A Plan for Jobs mini-Budget, announced earlier this month, but Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, said: “While we have seen promising starts on energy efficiency and shoring up rural hospitality businesses, the Chancellor has missed major opportunities to begin building back better when it comes to transport and housing investment.”
Mr Fyans addressed several issues in the mini-Budget:
On existing homes: “The £3 billion announced on energy efficiency is a good start but must be swiftly followed by a National Retrofit Strategy that CPRE has been calling for in our new report Greener, Better, Faster and a plan for longer-term investment. Decarbonising our homes and buildings is essential to preventing runaway climate change. We expect to see further investment in reducing emissions from our existing homes via the £9bn for energy-efficiency schemes promised by Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto at the end of last year.”
On new homes: “We understand the Chancellor wants to reboot the construction sector, but he’s pulling the wrong lever with a Stamp Duty holiday. By investing in social and genuinely affordable housing instead, he could drive up build rates and provide the homes that are so desperately needed, especially in rural areas. We cannot accept that private rentals in nine out of 10 rural areas are unaffordable for care workers. We urge the government to begin investing in homes for our heroes and tackling the housing crisis.”
On transport: “Any serious claims to a green recovery are being completely undermined by the out-of-touch £27bn road-building plans that will drive up emissions and will likely not be needed with homeworking on the rise. In the mini-Budget we did not hear one mention of public transport, the low-carbon alternative to the private car that is so desperately needed, especially in disconnected rural areas. We are urging the government to scrap the planned road spending and put this money to much better use. Diverting some of this funding to a dedicated rural transport fund would have a dramatic impact connecting up towns and villages with affordable, convenient and low-carbon public transport.”
On rural economies: “The Chancellor was absolutely right to highlight hard-hit rural businesses in the hospitality industry and we welcome the ‘eat out to help out’ vouchers. We can all play our part in supporting local businesses as we emerge from lockdown. Our hope is that these vouchers will help get small rural restaurants, pubs and cafes back on their feet as lockdown eases and holiday season begins, with many of us choosing to go on a staycation here in the UK rather than venturing abroad.”

Friday, July 31, 2020

‘The PM’s “new deal” makes a mockery of the government’s so-called green recovery’

Tom Fyans, of CPRE: ‘We must not even begin down this path with plans for £27 billion spending on roads’ (pic BBC)

CPRE, the countryside charity, has given a decidedly hostile response to the prime minister’s post-coronavirus recovery plan in which he promised to “build, build, build”.
Boris Johnson’s announcement of a ‘new deal’, delivered in Dudley yesterday (Tuesday, June 30), pledged £5 billion to build homes and infrastructure and vowed to speed up and intensify plans set out in the Tory election manifesto.
The UK economy has reportedly shrunk faster between January and March this year than at any time since 1979 and the government proposals are intended to halt that decline.
Key features of Johnson’s ‘new deal’, some of which had already been announced, include:

  • £100 million for 29 road projects
  • £12 billion to help build 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years
  • £1.5 billion for hospitals, the removal of mental-health dormitories and improving A&E capacity
  • More than £1 billion for new school buildings

Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director at CPRE, made a blistering attack on the prime minister’s scheme:
“With road-building at its heart, the PM’s ‘new deal’ makes a mockery of the government’s so-called green recovery.
“At this historic moment, the government must show real ambition and build back better, not worse, and in doing so balance our health and well-being, nature and countryside and the economic recovery.
“The government cannot continue to ignore the surge in appreciation for green spaces and the public appetite to reduce our carbon emissions.
“We must not even begin down this path with plans for £27 billion spending on roads. That money could be much better spent connecting towns and villages with low-carbon public transport, shoring up rural economies and businesses hard hit by the coronavirus and investing in genuinely affordable and well-designed housing.
“Furthermore, the PM has pledged to ‘build at the pace that this moment requires’, which strikes fear in the hearts of those who understand the benefits of a plan-led system.
“Rushing through potentially poor-quality development is the very antithesis of building back better. We already know, from painful experience, a rush for development trades off quality homes and infrastructure for quick and easy economic growth.
“This trade-off isn’t necessary. It’s already far too easy to build poor-quality homes and therefore any plans to deregulate our democratic, locally accountable planning system will take decision-making powers from communities and local councils and hand it to short-sighted developers.
“The government can only seriously claim to be pursuing the levelling-up agenda after scrapping planned spend on roads and refocusing planning reforms to deliver for people rather than developers.
“Until then, it’s the same old deal.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Your chance to hear CPRE deputy chief exec speak in Kent

Tom Fyans: coming to Ashford (pic BBC)

Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, will be speaking at an open meeting in Kent next month (March).
Tom, who is also national director of campaigns and policy, is giving his talk ‘Why town centre regeneration matters for CPRE, the countryside charity’ at the AGM of the Ashford committee of CPRE Kent on Wednesday, March 6.
The meeting is being held in the function room of Ashford Picturehouse in Elwick Place (TN23 1AE).
As well as learning about the regeneration of Ashford town centre, this is also a chance to look inside the town’s new cinema complex, which hosts six screens, a restaurant, cafe and bar, as well as a spacious foyer and outdoor and indoor seating.
The function room is at the top of the stairs or lift.
For the AGM you can have tea or coffee and biscuits from 11.45am, with the meeting due to run from midday to 1.30pm.
If you’re able to stay a little later, you can buy hot snacks at the foyer counter.
There is ample parking at Elwick Place (£2.20 for two hours).
All are welcome for this event – you do not need to belong to CPRE – but do please let us know in advance if you’re coming: phone Sandra Dunn on 07771 640133 or email sandradunn@sky.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2019