An article in the Telegraph (14 October) picks up on comments made by Natural England chair Tony Juniper on X (formally Twitter) regarding media reports about the role of housebuilding on scrubland. The Telegraph also includes criticism from some quarters that Tony is opposed to housebuilding.
The comments made by Tony Juniper referenced in the piece about scrubland are taken out of context . Tony was making the point scrubland as a conservation term is used to describe a distinctive habitat home to an abundance of wildlife which must be protected if we are to achieve our legally binding targets for nature recovery
The suggestion that Natural England or its Chair are against house building is simply not true and the facts speak for themselves. Out of the tens of thousands of planning applications that Natural England is consulted on each year, 99% result in developers finding ways for development to proceed while protecting nature. A mere 1% result in an objection. This refutes claims that Natural England is against house building and proves that as a society, we do not need to choose between much needed housing or protecting nature – you can do both.
In response, Natural England chair Tony Juniper said :
Telegraph readers know the value of our natural environment and they know that building homes and protecting our environment is not a binary choice; done well the two can be mutually beneficial.
We already successfully build for the future and protect nature. Natural England advises thousands of developers across the nation each year to help make development projects compatible with nature and objects to less than 1% of planning applications.
The suggestion that protecting nature is preventing us achieving our essential housebuilding targets is completely unfounded.
To read Natural England’s response in full, see the blog.