UK Royal Commission seeking evidence on land use

It is unclear whether current land use planning procedures are capable of fulfilling the demands of wider UK environmental policies. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has announced its intention to investigate the planning system and to report back by the end of 2000.

Citing land use planning decisions’ impact on sustainable development strategies, the Commission has requested evidence on the current planning system: “The Commission invites interested organisations and individuals to provide examples of practical difficulties, or of good practice, in operating the present arrangements. Information on gaps, duplication in the present arrangements would be especially welcome. The Commission would welcome views at this stage on the more specific questions to which it should investigate later in the study.”

Broad topics have already been defined for the study. They include:

  • what role democratic control should play in land use decisions
  • potential conflicts between national environmental strategies and local interests, and conflicts between private rights and public interest
  • how planning systems take account of both the need for particular types of development and the need to conserve resources
  • the appropriateness of the present statutory framework and the extent of public confidence in the appeals systems
  • potential conflicts between sustainable development goals and arrangements already in place to meet other environmental objectives
  • assessment of the extent of gaps, duplication, co-ordination and conflict in the current planning system
  • the current planning system’s ability to cope with major developments such as climate change
  • the relationships between geographical areas and the environmental processes in place
  • assessment of the knowledge base, including the location and availability of expertise, training, the use of environmental impact assessment and the adequacy of data.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is an independent body established in 1970 to advise the Queen, the Government, Parliament and the public on environmental issues. Members of the Commission are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

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