Lucas: sustainability requires urgent planning reform

A wind turbine on argicultural land
Lucas will explain that better planning can accommodate renewables, sustainable development and green spaces
Green leader Caroline Lucas will today use a Campaign to Protect Rural England lecture to call for urgent action to resolve conflicting land use issues

Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party, will use a keynote lecture address this evening to call for urgent planning reform to promote environmental sustainability.

Speaking at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) annual lecture, the Green Party leader will use her speech – Reconciling Environmental Goods – to consider how to resolve seemingly conflicting land use issues, saying ‘a market approach won’t protect countryside’.

On the agenda will be how to maintain urban green spaces while increasing densities, reducing transport emissions while avoiding damage to rural areas, and protecting rural areas while making the most of renewable energies.

Speaking in advance of the publication of a Government white paper on energy, Lucas said it was crucial that the many potential job opportunities in the green sector were taken advantage of, as well as the billions in revenue offered by renewable technologies.

‘What we need is a complete reform of the planning system, not just a mere tinkering with the existing framework,’ she said.

Delegates will hear that improved dialogue and increased citizen participation in important development decisions will be vital in resolving conflict over land use. Lucas will also call upon Government to give ‘clear signals’ to industry in terms of sustainability and investing in renewables.

She also criticises the Conservative Party’s plans for ‘conservation credits’ – investment elsewhere to mitigate for ‘giving the green card to business as usual’.

‘Destroying our precious environment by building Tesco superstores does not suddenly become okay because [Tesco chief executive] Terry Leahy promises to plant woodland somewhere. Expanding Heathrow airport does not suddenly become a green option because [Heathrow operator] BAA invests in some bat boxes.

‘It is possible to have firm planning regulations to ensure that green spaces, green belts and biodiverse brown-field sites are protected, while at the same time providing space for the renewable energy industry to grow, and for sustainable development – including high quality housing – to improve our towns and cities.’

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