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Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who intervened for some of their comments and I thank the Minister for his reply. Various criticisms were made. The wording of the amendment is that "planning authorities may", so no one is forcing them to act.
Several noble Lords failed to recognised that if one is trying to carry out a community heating scheme of whatever type, it cannot be done through building regulations on individual buildings. In my view, in order to achieve the efficient use of energy, we need to go down that road when buildings are built close together. Criticism was made of combined heat and power not being renewable energy, but the point I made on the Woking scheme was that the advantage of having a community heating scheme based on CHP is that as new technologies are introduced the fuel can be changed. The other important point is that under such a scheme the electricity continues to be available.
The complaint people make about renewable energy, particularly wind farms, is that the power is there only when there is wind. Allan Jones told me that, interestingly, in Woking their scheme is so efficient that during a power cut when an out-of-town shopping centre lost its power, the shops in the centre of Woking retained theirs because they were on the circuit of the CHP scheme.
It is an important issue and I understand what the Minister says. I am pleased that the Government are looking at the matter seriously and I hope that PPS22 will enable local authorities, when they put it into their plans, to ensure that it happens. That was the point of raising the issue. People wanting to introduce such a scheme have come up against problems in making it stick and in getting people to carry it out. With those comments, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment was part of a long group on the nature of sustainable development which your Lordships discussed in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said that the amendment makes the clause an,
I take the point that planning is not all, but it is more than just a framework: I would say that it is the bedrock. I agree with the Minister that the actions which follow lead to sustainable development. That is in part why I am moving the amendment. The clause referred to the exercise of functions by any person or body exercising the particular functions. I believe that they should do so not just with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development but with the objective of it. "Contributing" is inadequate.
Unless the regional spatial strategy in the development plan documents establish the right bedrock, not only will we not achieve sustainable development, but we run the risk of allowing unsustainable development. I would like to think that every objective is automatically achieved but I do not believe that that is the case in life. Nor do I believe that that is what the word would mean were it to be included in the Bill. I make sustainable development the objective with the hope, though not necessarily the confidence, that by doing so it will always be achieved.
I agree with the statement in the recently published consultation on PPS1 that sustainable development is the core principle underpinning planning. Therefore, I again draw your Lordships' attention to what I believe is the correct expression of that statement within the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, when we debated this amendment in Committee I said that we would look at the issue further, which we are still doing: the clause is receiving ongoing consideration. However, I am able to tell the noble Baroness and the House that I hopewhich means I expectto be able to bring forward an amendment at Third Reading which will go some way to meet her concerns without opening up every planning decision to a challenge. In the light of that I hope that we can let the case rest now and we will have a substantive debate on this issue at Third Reading.
Since our last debate, the Government have produced a consultation document, PPS1, that sets out their interpretation of "sustainable development". I find it curious when we have had so much discussion on sustainable development that this matter comes to consultation only at this stage. It would have been helpful if that document had been around earlier. However, I re-tabled my original amendments to give the phrase proper definition. I maintain that it is crucial to get a definition on to the face of the Bill and not leave it to secondary legislation.
My first amendment provides that development should contribute to the achievement of economic regeneration. We all believe in the benefits of economic regeneration, and it is through the planning system that local economic regeneration can be achieved successfully. It is surprising that regeneration does not get a statutory footing in the Bill; we believe that it should.
We discussed the new clause quite extensively at the last stage. It was demonstrated that sustainable development was open to very broad interpretation. On the one hand, it can be perceived as a term that has environmental connotations, and on the other hand it refers to economic viability. The term can quite literally be interpreted as having meanings that are the opposite of each other. It is not good enough for the Government to give a vague explanation and say that a balance has to be struck. The term is too subjective.
Far more importantly, it is unsatisfactory for there to be no definition in the Bill at all of "sustainable development". There is a substantial subheading under Part 3"Sustainable development" but there is still no explanation of what sustainable development encompasses.
At the previous stage I put forward a new clause, which we debated, and I return to it because it seems that a definition that was accepted not only in this country but by the United Nations as far back as 1972 could form a proper basis for understanding what sustainable development is about. It is a definition that clearly has stood and will stand the test of time. The definition is quite encompassing and makes clear what would fall within the term "sustainable development".
Although I hear what the Minister said about considering this matter further, I am not sure that he took into account that these amendments actually define sustainable development. I am therefore putting these amendments forward. I beg to move.
Lord Cobbold: My Lords, both amendments are concerned with the definition of sustainable development. I have not changed my view that sustainable development is a subjective concept and impossible to define objectively. However, since our earlier discussions we have had the draft of planning policy statement 1. Paragraph 1.13 sets out the Government's current definition of aims of sustainable development; these give some guide as to what the Government are expecting. There is also the element of flexibility in the fact that they appear in the guidance, which enables the concept to evolve with time and particularly with local needs. The question of economic regeneration is also dealt with in the draft documentin paragraph 1.22. So I am satisfied for the time being that we understand what the Government are getting at and we will have an element of flexibility for reaction in different circumstances.
Lord Chorley: My Lords, taking Amendment No. 116 first, I said in Committee that I did not particularly object to it but I did not feel that it fitted happily into this part of the Bill. That more or less remains my view. If anything, I am rather more adverse to having Amendment No. 116 included than I was then. For example, I do not know why the amendment talks about "economic regeneration"; if it talked about "economic development" that would be more sensible. "Economic regeneration" suggests that something that was not there is now happening. Perhaps that is a pedantic point.
The other difficulty with having "economic regeneration" in this part of the Bill is that there are certain types of economic development or activity that are totally unsustainable. That is why it is not very comfortable to have it linked to that part of the Bill.
I was in favour of Amendment No. 119 in Committee and am even more in favour now; that is, the 1972 Stockholm conference definition of sustainable development, which is still much the best definition that I know. It is better than the Brundtland definition, which introduced the word "need", which my noble friend Lord Cobbold rightly criticised in Committee. The word "need" opens up a whole new ball game for debate; as my noble friend said, it is highly subjective.
A World Bank report on definitions of sustainable development listed at least 57 varieties of definition. In my view, the simple, straight, first definition of Stockholm is still the best. It is important to put it in the Bill because it gives statutory recognition to a basic framework which can be and has been built on in the guidance in the form of PPS1. At the same time"guidance" being more flexible than enactmentsit allows for changing attitudes and for development of
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