RURAL campaigners have spurned talks with the Government until Ministers give guarantees that changes to the planning laws will not harm some of the North East’s most cherished sites.
The National Trust has been leading opposition to Government moves to free up the planning process, which Ministers say will aid the recovery.
Protesters yesterday said they had been offered talks on the plans but refused to meet Ministers until they could give guarantees that landscapes including Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumberland coast would not be harmed under the Government plans.
The Trust stance came after a number of local authorities – including Northumberland County Council – confirmed they were already using the Government plans when considering potential new developments.
The issue is becoming a potential flashpoint for the Government as opposition to relaxing the planning laws has grown in Tory-voting rural heartlands.
Last night, Fiona Reynolds, director general for the National Trust, told The Journal: “Earlier today, the National Trust met today with minister Greg Clark, who invited us to engage now in dialogue about the detail of the National Planning Policy Framework document.
“As a major landowner in the North East that cares for iconic places including Cragside and Wallington in Northumberland as well as large stretches of the Northumberland Coast and Hadrian’s Wall, we welcome this invitation.
“However, we’re not prepared to enter into such talks until we have a clear statement, from the highest levels of Government, clarifying that the planning system is not there principally to promote economic development.”