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ESA dismisses DCLG presumption in favour of sustainable development as “toothless”

The Government’s draft of its presumption in favour of sustainable development has been dismissed by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) as “toothless”.

ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said that the presumption, which is to be at the heart of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, fails to explain what qualifies as sustainable development.

He said: “The idea of a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ is a good one which in theory could help some of this vital infrastructure through the planning system.

“In practice though, the draft wording released by the Government is toothless, because it fails to even try to suggest what qualifies as ‘sustainable development’.

“Waste management infrastructure - in enabling the UK to meet its ambitious targets for recycling and renewable energy generation - is clearly an essential component of sustainable development. The Government still has time to get this right, and we will work with them to this end.”

Under the draft presumption, local authorities are expected to prepare local plans on the basis that “objectively assessed development needs should be met, and with sufficient flexibility to respond to rapid shifts in demand or other economic changes”, and that permission should be granted where plans are “absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date”.

The presumption for sustainable development was first mentioned in a Conservative green paper prior to the election and formed part of the coalition’s programme for Government.

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