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Planning and the Environment

Find out about the Environmental Impact Assessment required for some types of development

The planning system can be used to control the following environmentally harmful activities.

Noise pollution
A noise survey is normally required for new developments that could create noise nuisance in existing residential properties. This would enable the environmental protection unit within the Local Planning Authority to decide if the development is suitable or whether adequate measures are in place to prevent noise pollution.
Light pollution
Planning conditions on lighting schemes also help to protect the environment and improve energy efficiency.
Development on contaminated land
Contaminated land is also taken into account in planning applications for new developments. Planning permission may be refused if the development site poses serious harm that cannot be cleaned up. Even if there is minimal risk of contamination, the planning permission may still require the developer to do some clean up work before proceeding with construction work. Find out more here. Please note that the planning process does not override the contaminated land regime provided by Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Waste disposal
Generally, new waste facilities require planning permission before they can be set up. This is aside from other requirements under the environmental permitting system. The planning system may be used to prevent a waste disposal facility from being sited near a river course or other sensitive areas.
Development in conservation areas
Conservation areas are places or buildings with special architectural or historic interest. They include historic towns and villages. Very often these areas comprise of listed buildings, matured trees and boundary walls, which are key examples of the UK’s social and cultural heritage. There are additional controls on developments in conservation areas. For example, permission is needed before buildings can be demolished or trees felled down in a conservation area. In some areas permission is required to change key building details such as windows and doors. Planning permission would only be granted to developments that enhance or preserve the character and appearance of a conservation area.
Development on green spaces
Areas such as national parks, nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) benefit from legal protections for the purposes of nature conservation. To find out more click here.
Other types of open spaces that may benefit from special protection include:
- Green Belt land: in the past, planning policies made it very difficult for developers to gain planning permission to build on Green Belt land. Policies to promote house building are starting to make things easier.
- Local Green Spaces: these are green areas designated for special protection in local development plans or in neighbourhood plans because they are of particular importance to local communities.
- Parks and open green spaces designated as Assets of Community Value: you can apply to your local authority to list a local park or green space as an Asset of Community Value. If the area is listed, this means that the person who owns the land cannot sell it without first giving you a chance to bid for it. Listing is also something that the local planning authority may have to take into account if someone applies to change the way the park or green space is used. Listings last five years.

Legislation and Policy

National Planning Policy Framework (England) and Planning Practice Guidance notes

Planning Policy Statement 10: planning for sustainable waste management

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

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