Biodiversity in planning policy

Welsh Government recently consulted on draft policy changes to Planning Policy Wales that strengthen the requirement to incorporated nature-positive elements within the policy.

Dr Jen Baxter, Deputy Chair of NICW, drafted the Commission’s response to the proposed changes.

25 May 2023

Dear Sir / Madam

Targeted policy changes to Planning Policy Wales on Net benefit for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Resilience.

On behalf of the National Infrastructure Commission Wales (NICW), I am writing in support of the proposed targeted policy changes to Planning Policy Wales on Net Benefit for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Resilience.

NICW’s role is to provide advice to the Welsh Government on the long term infrastructure needs of Wales. We aim to provide radical, challenging and evidence-informed advice and guidance to inform and future-proof decisions on infrastructure deployment from 2030 to 2100.

NICW strongly believes that new infrastructure can be developed alongside nature if the correct planning policy and regulation is in place to support development. The role of green infrastructure statements as proposed will create an environment where developers must demonstrate the benefits of both the proposed development and the way that nature and biodiversity will be maintained and brought into the site boosting ecosystem resilience.

NICW commissioners have taken the Building the Nature training and supports its proposed use as a benchmark of good practice when designing and delivering new infrastructure across Wales. NICW suggests that to enable developers to meet this requirement that the Welsh Government supports training programmes for developers and others to help raise awareness and skill level to deliver this good practice standard.

The proposal to bring stronger protections to designated statutory and non-statutory sites is welcomed. We are custodians of our environments both built and natural and as we develop new infrastructure designed to deliver net zero and adapt to climate change it is important that we do that with a vision of our future that is equal parts conservation, technologically advanced and clean, subsequently delivering good social outcomes for local communities and future generations. This will lead us to find more innovative ways of delivering goods and services across Wales and become forerunners in protecting the environment while delivering modern lifestyles.

Should you require clarification on any of the above comments, please contact the NICW Secretariat:

Yours faithfully
Dr Jenifer Baxter
Deputy Chair