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New bid for health impact assessments

BMA Cymru Wales has called for the introduction of statutory health impact assessments as part of a new bill streamlining planning laws.

Mark DrakefordHealth impact assessments were going to be part of the Public Health Bill. However the proposal, which would have seen all Welsh policies assessed for their impact on public health, was dropped — much to the dismay of BMA Cymru Wales.

Now, doctors leaders have called for their introduction in the proposed Planning (Wales) Bill, which seeks to streamline and reform planning laws in Wales.

The association, in its written consultation response on the legislation, says: ‘We note that health and social services minister Mark Drakeford recently expressed support for undertaking health impact assessments in relation to planning applications.’

Public health leader
During a debate on public health developments last month Professor Drakeford (pictured above) said he would be keen — and had always been keen — to make public health impacts one of the considerations that local authorities are able to take into account in making planning and licensing determinations.

BMA Cymru Wales’s response adds: ‘Given this link between health impact assessments and the planning process that had clearly been recognised by the Welsh Government, we would consider that the now-published Planning (Wales) Bill therefore represents a further legislative opportunity to take forward the adoption of health impact assessments on a mandatory footing.’

The association also cites chief medical officer for Wales Ruth Hussey’s support for the assessments.

It adds: ‘Adopting health impact assessments could make Wales an international exemplar in the field of public health, and we would therefore urge members of the committee to give consideration to advocating incorporation of the concept into this bill.’

Arrow Find out more about the Planning (Wales) Bill