Its odd to read about what I've always thought of as 'conservative' institutions (Telegraph, National Trust, CPRE and CPRW etc.) laying into the Coalition Government over its policy towards rural England (and to some extent rural Wales). In fact it seems more to be laying into the Conservative Party. There are two bones of contention, one of which I gnaw with relish, and one of which I need to know more about. The first is the horror of onshore wind farms and associated infrastructure, and the second is the proposed planning reforms.
There is a meeting in the Commons on Monday, between 2.30 and 4.00 for a discussion amongst concerned parliamentarians. The Telegraph reckons there will be over 80 of us. Lets see. I'll tell you how many on Mon. night. I'm a bit concerned that the meeting is being trailed as 'a first shot across the Government's bows'. I fired my first shot years ago, and several more shots since. Its the people of rural Britain that has been firing the shots, and its only now that parliamentarians are catching up.
I'm not so sure about the planning reforms - though I've commented on this blog about the intemperate language that seems to have infected this important and needed debate. My views remain unsettled, and are influenced by past experiences - Chair of a planning authority for 7 years, Chair of a development agency for 5 years, president of CPRW for 3 years prior to being elected, and a critic of the slowness of deciding planning applications where I live all my life. In particular, I don't understand the outrage about 'a presumption in favour of sustainable development'. I thought that was the current position. Certainly was throughout my 7 years, leading a planning authority. The underlying principle should be that a planning application should be approved - unless there is a proper planning reason to refuse it.
Anyway roll on Monday. I hope the war against the horrid onshore wind sector gathers strength over the next few months.