Currently, Councils have to have ‘material consideration’ for Local Wildlife Sites when making planning decisions. The Government is asking for views on a major overhaul of the rules that guide planning for development in the National Planning Policy Framework. Local wildlife sites – which include 34 or a third of all Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s reserves - will lose planning policy recognition under the current proposals.
There are over 3,000 Local Wildlife Sites across Yorkshire covering 37,900 Hectares. This is roughly the equivalent of 475 times the Harrogate Stray area or nearly one and a half time the size of City of York. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust sites include North Cave Wetlands in East Riding of Yorkshire, Filey Dams in North Yorkshire, Potteric Carr in south Yorkshire and Low Wood in West Yorkshire.
Louise Wilkinson, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Policy and Campaigns Manager said; “Local Wildlife Sites are the last refuges for biodiversity. The suite of sites across our region are vitally important for wildlife and people and we are deeply concerned that they are no longer recognised in the planning policy that’s proposed. These sites, wildlife habitats and corridors should be integrated into new development and planning – people also feel happier and healthier surrounded by flourishing green spaces.”
Case Study – Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stavely Reserve, near Harrogate
Developers are currently drawing up plans for up to 107 houses about 20 metres from the reserve at Staveley, which is designated as a local wildlife site or Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Currently, YWT are able to defend the site as SINCs are a “material consideration” in the planning system. Without the local wildlife site designation being recognised in national policy, there will be far less call for planners to consider impacts on sites like Staveley.