Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation at the National Trust, said:
“Bob’s Neill’s comments about the motivation behind our concerns are wide of the mark. They are certain to raise a few eyebrows around the Trust and elsewhere.
“He seems to think that designated areas of countryside are all that anyone cares about. It is not, as the Government should have realised from the forestry debacle earlier this year.
“Our primary concern is what the government’s reforms threaten to do to the everyday places in and around cities, towns and villages that local communities love and cherish.
“The Government is making warm noises about local communities, but in practice the dice are heavily loaded to favour development and local people won’t get enough say.
“The National Trust believes in growth as we all do – but not at any cost. We believe strongly that any development must meet the needs of people, the environment as well as the economy.
“The government has failed to do this in its reforms. It has put short term financial gain ahead of everything else. It has failed to protect the everyday places that local communities love. It has given the power in planning to the already powerful.”