To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the speech by the Prime Minister on 6 October where he referenced the “new wild belts” that will “mark the landscape” by 2030, (1) how much of the area of (a) England, (b) Scotland, and (c) Wales they expect that the wild belts will cover; (2) what processes will be used to create them; (3) to what extent will they be in (a) urban areas, and (b) rural areas; and (4) what designations will the wild belts be allocated.
The Prime Minister recently set out his vision for a greener and transformed Britain, with millions of trees, wilder landscapes for people to enjoy and a commitment to protect 30% of land for biodiversity by 2030. We want to strengthen our existing network of protected areas and explore ways of driving up the biodiversity value of these areas.
Implementation of domestic biodiversity is a devolved matter in the UK. In England the Government is introducing a range of new incentives to restore ecosystems and create wilder landscapes including the Nature for Climate Fund, Nature Recovery Fund and the recently launched Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
Our Environment Bill will introduce Local Nature Recovery Strategies, which will provide a spatial planning tool for nature, allowing local government and communities to identify priorities and opportunities for nature recovery across our protected areas, green belts and wider farming landscape. Local authorities and public bodies more generally will be required to have regard to Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
The term ‘wild belt’ has been used to refer generally to wilder areas around towns and cities but adopted most recently in campaigns by the Wildlife Trusts to set a new designation within a reformed planning system.
Just as we want to see more and better access to nature around our towns and cities, the role of planning in further protecting any areas that are being restored should be considered alongside our ambitious planning reforms. The public consultation for the Planning for the Future white paper is due to close on 29 October. The Government will be carefully analysing all responses before publishing our response.