The environmental group claims ministers failed to carry out a strategic environmental assessment on its new planning rules

Fracking protest

Source: Friends of the Earth

Environmental group Friends of the Earth says it is considering launching a legal challenge against the government over the recently published National Planning Policy Framework.

FoE is taking issue with the NPPF’s approach to the environment and sustainable energy and claims ministers failed to carry out a strategic environmental assessment.

The group says the new document, published earlier this week, threatens the climate and the environment, arguing it “promotes fracking, holds the door open for future coal, and makes it difficult for wind power projects to get off the ground”.

FoE’s legal chief Will Rundle said the group was considering its options “to legally challenge this failure to environmentally assess the major impacts of this new planning framework, which we think is unlawful and shows contempt for people and our planet”.

The government “failed to carry out a ‘strategic environmental assessment’ of the plans, leaving the public in the dark over the major environmental impacts of the new changes, and whether less damaging alternatives have been considered, discarded or considered at all”, FoE said.

Kate Gordon, FoE’s senior planner, said the new NPPF had been an opportunity “to put an end to dirty coal, boost renewable power and energy efficiency, and put climate risks front and centre – to create a more sustainable environment for us all to enjoy.

“Instead, in the middle of a heatwave, the government has further threatened our already warming climate and yet no strategic environmental assessment was ever made of the plans.”

Gordon told Building that as it stands the NPPF prevented local authorities from objecting on principle to activity such as testing for shale gas in its area. “It won’t affect conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty, but if a local council simply doesn’t want this sort of thing taking place on its patch that won’t be enough to stop it,” she added.