University lecturer provides evidence to the Environment and Sustainability Committee on the Planning Bill

Dr Victoria Jenkins, Senior Lecturer in the College of Law at Swansea University, recently appeared before the National Assembly for Wales’s Environment and Sustainability Committee to represent the views of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) on how this much welcomed legislation could be strengthened to better achieve the protection of the environment in Wales.

The Planning Bill is an ambitious piece of legislation that addresses the role of Welsh Government in land use planning and introduces a new system of Strategic Development Planning as well as a number of measures to strengthen local development planning, management and enforcement. The Bill was introduced by Welsh Government on 6th October 2014 to ensure a positive approach to land use planning in Wales in order to deliver the development that will be required to achieve its economic, social and environmental objectives.

Victoria appeared alongside Dr Haydn Davies, Birmingham City University, who is also a member of the Wales Working Party of UKELA. In their view, the Planning Bill has the potential to provide greater transparency and coherence in the approach to land use planning Wales. However, they believe that the Bill, as currently drafted, fails to provide a sufficiently integrated approach with the Future Generations Bill also before the National Assembly and the forthcoming Environment Bill. They are also concerned that the Bill should ensure robust rights to participation for local communities.

Dr Victoria Jenkins

Photo: Dr Victoria Jenkins

Dr Jenkins, said: "It is important to provide a positive approach to land use planning in Wales to deliver the infrastructure necessary to support economic development, but we should also ensure that this process supports the protection and enhancement of our natural resources. Community participation in the planning process is vital to effective environmental decision making and essential procedural rights to participation should be included on the face of this Bill."