8th May 2018
National Planning Policy Framework Consultation
The ATF has just submitted a formal consultation response on the proposed revised National Planning Policy Framework. The NPPF sets the policy context for all planning decisions so it is crucial to make sure it protects what is important to us. We have consistently requested that ancient and veteran trees are considered irreplaceable habitat and that ancient wood pasture is considered at the same level as ancient woodland, but what did the proposed new document say?
The proposed NPPF says “Where development would involve the loss of individual aged or veteran trees that lie outside ancient woodland, it should be refused unless the need for, and benefits of, development in that location would clearly outweigh the loss”. However, ancient woodland is considered an irreplaceable habitat that could only be lost where there are “wholly exceptional reasons” (eg national infrastructure projects).
The proposed revision also says, specifically for the purposes of this policy, “irreplaceable habitat” does not include individual aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland. Much of this seems contrary to the government’s “standing advice” guidance note! Ancient trees are not specifically mentioned in the NPPF, just “aged and veteran trees”. This is from older planning terminology and we hope that will be changed too.
Caroline Davies has pulled together a strong response, which you can download in full here, with help from Jill Butler, Suzanne Perry, Tim Kellett and James Remmington. She has been liaising with the Woodland Trust and Natural England who are responding robustly as well to the revised version. We will keep you posted on the Government’s decisions.