PM is asked: ''What's sustainable development?''
14 November 2011
What is presumption to sustainable development? That's one key question being asked of the Prime Minister by the environmental audit committee which has called the new national planning policy framework (NPPF) "contradictory and confusing".
In a letter to David Cameron, the committee said that it needed to be made clear that sustainable development considerations should include social and environmental as well as economic factors.
The committee chair Joan Walley wrote: "The Localism Bill ... does not include a definition of sustainable development that should be applied in the new planning regime. The NPPF itself, however, should now be revised to include a detailed definition, embedding the principles set out in the 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy ... and indeed going further by specifying a need for environmental gain (rather than simply protection)."
She also said to Cameron: "You wrote to the National Trust explaining that the government's proposals for the planning system were intended to achieve a balance between [sic] the three pillars of sustainable development. The NPPF as currently drafted does not bear out that balance, however, and the committee considers that the final version will have to make it clearer that the drive for economic growth goes not trump other sustainability requirements.
"The current confusion about what the presumption in favour of sustainable development means in the NPPF places a premium on local plans being in place to make it clear what sort of developments local authorities will approve. Proper transitional arrangements will need to be introduced alongside the finalised NPPF to allow local authorities to be ready to continue from day one to be able to influence the sustainability of the development in their areas."
A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said the government would take the committee's comments into account.