The current Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) has been in place since 1997 and is currently under review (as of summer 2004). It provides overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The PPS contains polices that deal with the use and protection of the province's resources, including agricultural land, mineral resources, natural heritage resources, ground and surface water and cultural heritage resources.
Natural heritage policies are addressed in Section 2.3 of the PPS:
2.3 Natural Heritage
2.3.1 Natural heritage features and areas will be protected from incompatible development.
- Development and site alteration will not be permitted in:
- significant wetlands south and east of the Canadian Shield; and
- significant portions of the habitat of endangered and threatened species.
- Development and site alteration may be permitted in:
- fish habitat;
- significant wetlands in the Canadian Shield;
- significant woodlands south and east of the Canadian Shield;
- significant valleylands south and east of the Canadian Shield;
- significant wildlife habitat; and
- significant areas of natural and scientific interest
- if it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or the ecological functions for which the area is identified.
2.3.2 Development and site alteration may be permitted on adjacent lands to a) and b) if it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or on the ecological functions for which the area is identified.
2.3.3 The diversity of natural features in an area, and the natural connections between them should be maintained, and improved where possible.
2.3.4 Nothing in policy 2.3 is intended to limit the ability of agricultural uses to continue.
The Planning Act currently requires that decisions made by municipalities "shall have regard to" the PPS, meaning that staff and/or council have an obligation to consider how the specific policy provisions of the PPS apply when carrying out any planning responsibility.