On Tuesday 5 June I had the pleasure of chairing the RTPI NW Environment conference which took place at Brockholes in Preston, within the iconic floating visitor centre.
The idea of the day was to consider some of the key environmental issues that planners must consider when new development comes forward. The programme included a presentation from my colleague, Laura Day, Senior Environmental Consultant, on the Environmental Impact Assessment, focusing particularly on the changes since the new regulations came into force in May 2017. There then followed presentations from Claire Meddings of BWB on air quality, Mike Barratt from BWB on noise, John Kelsall from Carlisle Flood Action Group on flooding, Danny Hope from Hydrock on brownfield land, Sacha Rogers from Penny Anderson Associates on ecology and finally Jon Berry from Tyler Grange on blue and green infrastructure. The day concluded with a talk from the Wildlife Trust about Brockholes and a walking tour of the fantastic 250 acre nature reserve.
Some of the key points made in the presentations are as follows:-
- The new EIA regulations are now in force which have resulted in much more detailed screening requests being produced, additional assessments to be considered for topics such as climate change and human health, and applicants and local authorities are still so concerned about challenge that they err on the side of caution and more and more EIAs seem to be being produced when that was not the intention of the new Regulations;
- According to the World Health Organisation 7 million deaths a year worldwide can be attributed to poor air quality. Noise comes in at number 2 in terms of most deaths attributed to environmental issues. Electric cars will help deal with both air quality issues and reduce road traffic noise but are not a silver bullet. Electric cars will still give rise to particulate matter from braking and tyre wear and reducing road and other generated noise sources to a minimal level may not necessarily be a good thing as it helps to mask other noise sources which arguably cause more of a nuisance;
- Carlisle was devastated by flooding in 2005 and 2015 and not much has been done to improve this situation or stop it from happening again. Development continues on floodplain and 200 families are still not back in their homes after the 2015 floods. A joined up approach is needed to address the existing flooding issues in Carlisle and other locations where there are similar historic problems;
- Only limited impact from the introduction of the brownfield land register;
- District wide licensing for Great Crested Newts is on its way with pilot schemes up and running. So rather than protecting individual GCN the focus is on creating better quality habitat;
- Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT) can be used to guide the provision of blue and green infrastructure. If used, results should be considered in a pragmatic manner and provisions made in line with relevant local planning policies.
Click here for Laura Day’s presentation delivered on the day – ‘The EIA Regulations – a year on’. It considers the changes that have come in with the 2017 EIA Regulations, the EIA process and the potential pitfalls to be aware of.
If you have any questions or need any advice, please let me know.