Epping Forest Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy opens way for planning decisions.
A new interim air pollution mitigation strategy (APMS) prepared by Epping Forest District Council in consultation with Natural England and the City of London Corporation is set to remove a major barrier to the determination of planning applications.
Part of the emerging Local Plan
Planning applications that could lead to higher vehicle emissions across the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) have been held in abeyance following advice received from Natural England in June 2018.
Although vehicle emissions are not the only pollution factor affecting the Epping Forest SAC, the advice has had a particular impact on housing and employment related applications that could lead to more cars using the roads in or close to the Forest.
After long and complex discussions, Natural England has now agreed to the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy as part of the council’s emerging Local Plan and associated Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRA).
A sound strategy
Natural England said:
We confirm that if it is secured through appropriate policy wording within the Plan to provide the necessary link between the HRA conclusions and mitigation relied upon we consider that it would provide a sound strategy for the purposes of avoiding and mitigating air quality impacts on Epping Forest SAC that result from plan led development.
Subject to member approval and call-in, Epping Forest District Council should now be able to clear the backlog of planning applications in accordance with the policies in the emerging Local Plan.
Balance the needs of the environment and local people
Councillor Nigel Bedford, Planning Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said:
I am delighted to announce that support for the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy has been reached with Natural England. Epping Forest District Council is a signatory to the Climate Change Declaration and we are also very conscious of local air-pollution levels, especially associated with the M11 and M25.
However, we are also under tremendous government pressure to play our part in developing new homes to meet the housing shortage. This support to the Strategy from Natural England returns some measure of local decision making, allowing us to balance the needs of the environment and local people.
Around 150 planning applications have been in abeyance since the advice in June 2018. The council is working to clear the backlog as soon as possible.
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