Some time ago, I participated in a webinar about the Environment Bill.It was a short introduction to some planning aspects of the Bill.These notes are by way of a short summary of the points made in the webinar.The webinar focused upon the planning and development aspects of the Bill only and was limited to England only.In broad terms it went from general to particular; namely, from national policy to development control.[1]The starting point being, of course, national policy.I then went on to look at what I described as “Local Biodiversity Reports” and then to consider the impact of the Bill on development control.I hasten to add that the label “Local Biodiversity Reports” was my own label and did not figure in the Bill.The Bill introduces certain overarching environmental policies.Arguably, they will filter down to both local plans and development control.Clause 16 of the Bill requires the Secretary of state to prepare a “policy statement on Environmental Principles”. Clause 16 (2) …


Seasoned practitioners will, no doubt groan at the rumour that, yet again, some one is going to give the planning system a good shake-up  As we all know, these publicity exercises usually result in chaos !

When I gave seminars on advocacy (in the days when we had them), I would always warn the assembled multitude about experts who are not. For example, I would ask Einstein about the universe and gravity etc, but I would not ask him to fix a leaking tap.  A plumber would be the better choice.

I once cross-examined a noise expert who had given the Inspector the benefit of his guidance on conservation areas.  I pointed out that he should stick to his noise meters and leave conservation areas to people who actually know about them.

So what does this have to do with Mr Cummings (who appears to be the originator of the idea) ?

Well, because he does not (as far as I know) know anything at all about town and country planning. If he did, then he would have known that the only things which the…


Given that the summer solstice is fast approaching, it provides the excuse to regale those interested in highway law with a tale which comes close to being very strange.

It has to do with culs de sac[1], ancient monuments, the “vulgar public” and too much Latin.
Lord Eversley’s book “Commons, Forests and Footpaths The Story of the Battle During the Last Forty-Five Years for Public Rights Over the Commons, Forests and Footpaths of England and Wales” (Cassell & Co.) was published in 1910. He was the president of the, then, Commons Preservation Society (which later became the Open Spaces Society by merger). In part, the book explains the background to the fencing around Stonehenge and the legal battle which then ensued over it. As a broad generality, it is fair to say that it is difficult to show that a cul de sac is a highway.The problem being, of course, that it is not a through route.The conventional wisdom is that a highway is a route which connects two separate points.The conceptua…


I recently spoke (if this is the right word) at a webinar on the Environment Bill, hosted by Bath Publishing. We had a good response in terms of questions from delegates (probably not the right word) but could not tackle them all on the day. I have listed them below and will try to answer them all over coming weeks.


Can I just clarify - this Bill is for England only?Do you think local plans will need to demonstrate biodiversity/environmental improvement can be delivered on sites allocated for development to show they are viable, deliverable and developable (10% uplift in biodiversity/environmental improvement)?Where local planning authorities seek to achieve a net gain in biodiversity on current applications, i.e. ahead of the finalising of the Bill, how much weight does their request have when the gain isn't mandatory yet?Could the 'Responsible Person' be the Local Nature Partnership?Apologies if this will be answered later but existing policies allow…


The re-emergence of the Environment Bill has heralded some considerable debate about the proposed statutory enshrinement of the concept of biodiversity net gain.There have been arguments about whether this a good thing or a bad thing.Arguably, those debates are slightly academic because the reality of the situation is that biodiversity net gain is already with us.

In terms of statute we have section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.Section 40(1) provides as follows: “(1) [A] public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.” A “public authority” includes a Minister of the Crown, a public body, a government department, a local authority and a local planning authority: Section 40(4). Section 40(3) then provides an extended definition of “conserving”: “(3) Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habita…