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Environment

Brownfield first

CIWEM’s Contaminated Land Network has expressed relief that Greg Clark MP has confirmed that the Government will not do away with the current, forward thinking and sustainable policy of building on brownfield sites before open greenfield land.

In the draft National Planning Policy Framework, currently being consulted on, the intention is to remove detailed planning guidance and withdraw and replace PPS23 (and its Annex 2) on Planning and Pollution Control by a short and focussed note. This direction aroused suspicion that the NPPF is a sop to the development lobby who can profit more from greenfield sites and to lawyers who will pounce on the lack of clarity for more appeals, challenges and inquiries.

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RICS gains clarity on government plans for energy efficiency regulations

RICS has written to the Minister in charge of the Energy Bill, Greg Barker, and met with DECC officials to seek clarity on the details of certain proposed measures.

This follows Government amendments to the Energy Bill which remove the proposed independent review of the Green Deal measures in 2014 and impose the deadline of 1 April 2018 for residential and commercial landlords to bring their properties up to an 'E' rating.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:54

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Majority objected to badger cull before policy was approved

Evidence of overwhelming public opposition to the proposed cull of badgers was withheld until the Government had decided to go ahead with the controversial plan.

The results of a consultation held last year revealed that 69 per cent of respondents were against killing up to hundreds of thousands of the mammals in a bid to eradicate tuberculosis from cattle herds in England.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:54

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Fresh air as good as cup of coffee

A simple stroll in the open air is as revitalising as a strong cup of coffee, a new study claims.

Psychology professor Richard Ryan for the Journal of Environmental Psychology conducted research that found that people would be more energised outdoors even if they were doing nothing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 11:13

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What’s all this noise?

UK Government regulation of environmental noise is minimal. While there are some national guidance documents for local planning authorities, such as PPG24: Planning & Noise: 1994, there are no fixed design levels. Rather than ‘one size fits all’, some interpretation is required related to local circumstances; so what might be appropriate as a design level in central London may not be appropriate in the Yorkshire Dales.

The problem is, however, that local variations in noise policy do not necessarily relate to how quiet or noisy the area is, but are attempts by some local authorities to rewrite government guidance on a whim, without any basis for such changes in research.  For example, PPG24 divides the 24-hour day into two parts: Daytime (07:00-23:00 hrs) and Night-time (23:00-07:00hrs).

Some local authorities have adopted an ‘Evening-time’ period (19:00-23:00hrs) into their PPG24 assessment criteria, with lower noise levels than for Daytime. That introduction is not supported by research and is even more nonsensical when it is adopted by local authorities in rural Kent, for example, where ‘Evening’ noise levels may well be lower, and metropolitan London, where ‘Evening’ noise levels are likely to be broadly similar or possibly noisier than the rest of Daytime.

It is with such conditions and the non-scientific rigour of their drafting that the noise consultant must deal. He must be able to provide a balanced view of the real noise impact of any scheme and give clear explanations in environmental statements or as evidence to an inquiry. Such a view should consider not only the actual published government guidance, but how the local environment will be affected if the new or revised development is permitted, based on the surrounding environmental conditions. One London local authority requires by condition that the Daytime noise levels in gardens should not exceed a level recommended by the World Health Organisation, when reference to the London Noise Map shows that there are almost no areas of the borough where such conditions currently exist!

Clearly these dichotomies require interpretation by an experienced professional and it is to be hoped that better government guidance as to national noise policy will be forthcoming in the future. On 15 March Hilary Ben simultaneously announced the formal adoption of 25 Noise Action Plans and a new Noise Policy Statement for England, the implications of which in terms of central government policy and local planning issues are yet to be understood. Watch this space!
Alan Saunders

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 11:14