North East Herts MP Oliver Heald has held talks with DEFRA Minister Lord Benyon about ensuring special status in planning law for chalk streams.
Lord Trenchard from Standon has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill to give chalk streams special status in the planning system. The amendment was drafted by Lord Trenchard with help from local campaigner Nikki Da Costa and Oliver Heald. It would give power to Ministers to ensure that chalk streams are not damaged by planning decisions, such as excessively increasing demand for water or sewage facilities. The recommendation for special status was the “One Big Wish” in the Catchment Based Approach Report of November 2021. Conservative Party Chair Greg Hands MP visited Ashwell recently and was able to see the beauty of our local chalk streams.
Commenting Oliver said:
“It was good to be able to discuss this with Richard Benyon and press for Special Status. He is now the Minister and previously campaigned with me for better chalk stream health, leading to the Rivers Beane and Mimram and the Kennett improving greatly with less abstraction and important work to improve habitat.
The Government has done a lot to improve environmental laws and introduce targets, but the planning system also needs to recognise the important nature of chalk streams.”
1. There are 8 chalk streams in North East Hertfordshire: Upper Rhee, Ivel, Beane, Mimram, Rib, Quin, Ash and Lea.
2. Oliver Heald has been campaigning on chalk stream health since 2010.
3. Lord Trenchard’s amendment is to Clause 138 Levelling Up Bill, currently being considered in the House of Lords with Lord Benyon as the Minister responding to amendments.