Environment secretary criticised over National Park schemes after speech in North Yorkshire (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Environment secretary criticised over National Park schemes after speech in North Yorkshire
2:31pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson has come under fire for backing building in national parks if it is offset by boosting habitat elsewhere.
Mr Paterson suggested biodiversity offsetting, in which developers make up for damage done to natural areas by creating or enhancing other habitat, could provide opportunities in national parks to boost growth while protecting the environment.
But countryside campaigners said some habitats were irreplaceable and part of the landscape, and it was not possible to simply order a new one to be delivered somewhere else like its an Amazon purchase.
In a speech to a National Park Authorities conference in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, Mr Paterson said: "For too long we have allowed the lazy assumption that the environment and growth are incompatible objectives within the planning system.
"I believe that, with a bit of innovative thinking, in many cases it is possible to have both.
"This is why I am particularly interested in biodiversity offsetting. Offsetting gives us a chance to improve the way our planning system works.
"It gets round the long-running conundrum of how to grow the economy at the same time as improving the environment. It could provide real opportunities in our National Parks, where the necessary extension of a farm building could result in the enhancement of an existing habitat or the creation of a new one."
But a spokeswoman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "Exactly how would it be possible for a developer to replace, for example, ancient hedgerows by way of mitigation?
"Some habitats, particularly sensitive ones, are irreplaceable and thoroughly integral to the landscapes character because it's taken centuries to evolve - you can't just order a new one to be delivered somewhere else like its an Amazon purchase.
"Offsetting doesn't address the complex way in which wildlife systems are sustained and thrive, and if it allows developers to push through damaging schemes then it's just another way for money to win over protecting nature."
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