Clegg challenged on planning rules From: Carol Robinson

Chief executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England, South Yorkshire

Open letter to Nick Clegg from CPRE South Yorkshire:

Throwing you our green gauntlet!

You know about CPRE’s serious concerns about the Government’s plans to reform the planning system.

We believe that the draft National Planning Policy Framework fails to value the countryside for its own sake, prioritises economic development over sustainable development and will wreak havoc on greenfield land.

We are incredibly surprised that you stand behind this attempt to subvert the planning system just because you believe removing tried and tested planning safeguards will kick-start the economy!

What really astounds us is the fact that you appear to have abandoned your previously firmly-held green principles which you stated were core to the Lib Dems’ way of thinking.

Three years ago we invited you to Sheffield to talk about the future of the countryside. You said that “our plans for land must always be green. Fixing the economy must never come at the expense of protecting the environment.”. However, that is precisely what the NPPF would do.

You also said, “I want to be really clear here… for me, and my party, land is valuable for land’s own sake. Not for what we can use it for, or how much money we can make out of it. But simply because we value our natural environment.”

Given that the NPPF retracts the former policy of valuing the countryside for its own sake, your words now seem very hollow.

The people of Sheffield love and value the city’s Golden Frame – the beautiful green belt land that protects the Peak District National Park. Much of this land is in your constituency! It will be threatened if the current NPPF goes ahead.

So we’d like to throw you a green gauntlet! Tell us that you will ensure the NPPF is radically revised before it is issued next year. We believe that you have to do this if you are to shake off the perception that you and your party have broken yet more promises.