The Campaign to Protect Rural England has called the government's Growth and Infrastructure Bill "a hurried hotchpotch of measures" that contradict the localism agenda.
The Bill, which is due to get its second reading in the Commons today, is aimed at reducing "confusing and overlapping red tape that delays and discourages business investment, new infrastructure and job creation".
It contains a series of measures on planning, including recommendations from the 'Penfold' review to remove other over-lapping development consent regimes, where multiple permissions from different government agencies are required on top of planning permission and "speeding up the planning system for large scale business and commercial projects".
Ben Stafford, Head of Campaigns at CPRE, said: “This Bill feels like a hurried hotchpotch of measures that won’t do much to deliver either sustainable growth or infrastructure, but does constitute a further attack on planning and environmental protections.
"We hope MPs will ask the government how allowing developers to make applications directly to the Secretary of State fits alongside the localism agenda, and that they will question the assumption that speedy development is always good development.
"And we are also very concerned that provision of faster broadband in rural areas – which we support – should not come at the expense of strong protection for our most beautiful landscapes."
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said the Bill will "complement" the Localism Act with streamlined planning guidance and local retention of business rates.
CPRE says the Bill gives the Secretary of State wide powers to take planning decisions out of the hands of local authorities; to override the key purposes of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to erect new telecommunications lines; to undermine common law protection for village greens; and to allow developers more scope to renege on affordable housing agreements.
Planning Minister Nick Boles said:
"The Growth and Infrastructure Bill will boost investment and local economic growth. It removes confusing and overlapping red tape, whilst ensuring democratic checks and balances and environmental safeguards remain in place.
"Britain is in a global race today with rising nations like China and Brazil. Countries like ours will only be able to compete if we make it easier for businesses to invest and quicker for infrastructure to get built."