Examination of Witnesses (Questions 294-299)
SIR TOM BLUNDELL AND PROFESSOR RICHARD MACRORY
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
294. Can I welcome you to the last session this morning and ask you to identify yourselves for the record?
(Sir Tom Blundell) I am Tom Blundell, I am Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. I am an academic scientist but I have been Chairman of a planning committee in the City of Oxford in the past.
(Professor Macrory) I am Richard Macrory, I am a member of the Commission. I am a Professor in Environmental Law at University College.
295. Thank you very much. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction, or are you happy to go straight into questions?
(Sir Tom Blundell) I would like to say a few words. The Royal Commission is a standing body. In 1975 we looked at the relationship between land-use planning and pollution control. Over the subsequent years we have looked at a number of issueswaste, soil and air pollutionand felt that many of the problems in implementing our reports have related to the question of how land-use planning and environmental aspects, in particular conservation of resources as well as pollution, should be inter-related. So in 1999 we started a report, which was published just a month ago Environmental Planning. This is not a response to the Government's Green Paper, but it does make proposals which are quite relevant. I was interested to see the editorial in Planning Journal, which said that our report says what the Government should have said in the planning Green Paper: "The planning system helps safeguard the environment while balancing the economic and social objectives." So we hope that we can contribute to this discussion from our study.
296. Really, however, the Government did not take any notice of what you are saying.
(Sir Tom Blundell) The Government has certainly taken notice recently. I have had a very interesting discussion with Lord Falconer and we believe that our recommendations are relevant to the proposals. We look forward to working with the Government.
297. He explained to you why they were not in the Green Paper?
(Sir Tom Blundell) Because our report was published in March.
298. This is such a revolutionary idea that Lord Falconer did not have access to it before that?
(Sir Tom Blundell) We certainly made our ideas accessible to the Government.
299. In your submission to us you warn that some of the proposed reforms in the Green Paper will lead to uncertainty and actually slow down the system and could also lead to an increased number of legal challenges to decisions. Could you expand a bit on that?
(Sir Tom Blundell) The emphasis of our report is that one needs a clear strategy which takes into account not only the appropriate economic and social objectives but, also, protecting and enhancing the environment. That will allow predictability in the system, and eventually, a more efficient and effective system. We feel that that should be the emphasis in getting an efficient system, rather than concentrating on development control and speed of planning applications.