Leading Green To Call For Urgent Planning Reform To Spark UK Renewable Energy Revolution
- Caroline Lucas MEP to give CPRE annual lecture on reconciling competing environmental objectives; ‘a market approach won’t protect countryside’
Green Party leader and Euro-MP Caroline Lucas is set to deliver this year’s Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) annual lecture to guests at an event in London tomorrow (Thursday 9 July).
In a speech entitled ‘Reconciling Environmental Goods’, the Green MEP will call for an urgent reform of the UK’s planning system to put environmental sustainability at its heart – and encourage maximum citizen participation in key development decisions.
Dr Lucas will highlight the need for improved dialogue in situations where there are pressures for conflicting environmental goods, such as the need to exploit renewable energy opportunities while also seeking to protect the UK’s rural landscapes.
Echoing the findings of the Carbon Trust report last week, Dr Lucas is demanding the government gives clear signals to industry to encourage sustainable and profitable investment in the fledgling renewable energy industries.
The Green MEP said: "As the government prepares to publish its white paper on energy, now more than ever it is crucial that the UK seizes the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate billions in revenue from new renewable technologies.
"What we need is a complete reform of the planning system; not just a mere tinkering with the existing framework. The Conservative Party’s plans for conservation credits – that is, compensating for any cost to biodiversity by an equivalent investment in biodiversity elsewhere – miss this point entirely.
"Destroying our precious environment by building Tesco superstores does not suddenly become OK because CEO Terry Leahy promises to plant woodland somewhere. Expanding Heathrow airport does not suddenly become a green option because BAA invests in some bat boxes.
"Our planning system already requires developers to mitigate for environmental destruction and this kind of credit scheme touted by the Tories is giving the green card to business as usual.
"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."
Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of CPRE, commented:
"The central question here is, how do you choose between conflicting environmental objectives? And how do you decide between something that will benefit the environment but may harm the economy?
"Dilemmas of this sort arise frequently and there’s no use pretending that all good things are achievable. But as Caroline Lucas will say in her speech to CPRE, we should not despair. By thinking creatively we can get round some of these apparent conflicts. The planning system has a major role to play in helping us achieve this.
Notes to Editors