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Attwood Introduces New Planning Policy to Protect Our Natural Heritage
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Environment Minister Alex Attwood today (2 June 2013) issued a new planning policy for protection of our nature conservation and protected landscapes.

Planning Policy Statement 2 ‘Natural Heritage’ (PPS2) aims to conserve, protect and enhance the diversity of our natural heritage. The policy updates the protection of designated sites in the North in line with legislative change at European and domestic level.dn_screen

PPS2 will encourage protection of our natural heritage by:

*   Ensuring a proportionate approach to allow development without causing harm to our rich natural heritage assets.

*   Contributing towards halting biodiversity loss and furthering this Governments’ commitment to sustainable development.

*   Promoting well-being through the protection of our natural environment and providing opportunities for sensitive economic growth.

Alex Attwood said: “In bringing forward PPS2, I am confirming the importance I place on using planning to protect and safeguard the environment as well as facilitating appropriate economic development. This policy will also help us move towards meeting our key target to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 and enhance the quality of our daily lives.

“The rich character and distinctiveness of the North’s natural landscape, habitats and species are assets which contribute to future economic growth here. Six of the top 10 visitor attractions are our built and natural heritage. This should compel us to cherish our heritage whilst holding firm to environmental standards. Growing tourism from a £500million to a £1billion a year industry will revolve around the positive protection and development of this heritage – this policy will help achieve that.”

Commenting on the draft policy, Patrick Casement, Chairman of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC) said: “CNCC welcomes PPS2. We have seen the document in draft form and we believe it brings much greater clarity to the approach required in dealing with our natural heritage, rather than just nature conservation, with regard to planning applications. We are pleased to see the specific recognition given to the different types of designated areas, and to our wider landscapes, habitats and species.”

Planning Policy Statements set out DOE policies on particular aspects of land use planning and other planning matters and apply to the whole of Northern Ireland. Their contents are taken into account as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals.

DOE’s revised policy is contained in the Planning Policy Statement 2 ‘Natural Heritage’ (PPS 2). It sets out updated planning policy for the protection, and conservation of our natural heritage. For the purpose of this PPS natural heritage is defined as “the diversity of our habitats, species, landscapes and earth science features.” It furthers the Executive’s commitment to sustainable development and to conserving and where possible enhancing and restoring our natural heritage.

PPS 2 was published in draft in March 2011 for a four month period ending July 2011. DOE received a total of 50 responses from a range of public bodies, community, and voluntary groups, local councils and individuals. The final documents together with the synopsis of responses can be accessed at http://www.planning.gov.uk

Planning Policy Statements set out DOE policies on particular aspects of land use planning and other planning matters and apply to the whole of Northern Ireland. Their contents are taken into account as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals.

A copy of both documents can also be obtained from the DOE’s Planning Policy Division, Planning and Local Government Group (DOE), Millennium House, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, Malone Lower, Belfast, BT2 7BN.