GREENER developments should be given priority in Wales' planning system, a Gwent AM has said.

With environmental issues prominent in public conciousness following high-profile protests in London, Cardiff and elsewhere, and a 'climate emergency' having been declared by the Welsh Government and a number of Welsh local authorities, Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay has said a greener approach should be embedded in Wales' planning system.

The Conservative AM made the comments in the Assembly earlier this week.


"I had a query from a constituent who was looking to build an eco-house - effectively a carbon-neutral house - in the countryside, but in an area where there had been a previous house," he said. "The application was turned down, but they were allowed to restore an older building that was there and less environmentally-friendly.

"So, I was asked whether I'd pass on to the Welsh Government concerns, with the new climate change emergency having been declared, about whether there will be any review of the planning system so that, when local authorities are following planning guidelines and making planning decisions, they do take into account that, if people want to build carbon-neutral, eco-friendly homes, then those will be pushed a little bit higher up the planning process, appreciating, of course, that there are other mitigating planning aspects as well.

"I think it would be helpful if the climate emergency was well and truly embedded within the planning system."

Housing minister Julie James said the entire process of a planning proposal should be looked at in terms of its environmental impact - including the impact of demolishing and disposing of older buildings.

"The policies are in place to allow eco-houses to be built right now," she said. "What we are doing is reviewing our building regulations, so that, in building your house, you have to do certain things.

"You'll know that we're doing that partly in response to the Grenfell tragedy, and so we're looking to make sure that our fire safety processes are up to scratch, but, in doing that, we are also looking at decarbonisation of the building process itself, so that when you are granted planning permission you do, of course, have to build whatever it is you have planning consent for in accordance with the building regulations.

"So, the building regulations are an important toolbox in that."

She added new regulations on new buildings would be presented to the Assembly shortly.