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ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT AUTHORITIES
27 March 1998
GREEN PAPER - SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Report by the Honorary Secretary
(1) That the report back from the GOSE consultation session on the Green Paper be noted; and
(2) Member Councils advise the Policy Officer of their comments on the Green Paper, to facilitate the preparation of an Association response drawing together common threads.
The Government has issued a consultation paper intended to lead to a revised UK strategy for sustainable development.
The Association was represented at one of the initial regional consultation meetings.
This paper reports back on that consultation meeting and suggests the Association should submit comments, reflecting common threads from member Councils.
1. DETR has issued a consultation paper "Sustainable Development: Opportunities for Change", which is intended to lead to revisions to the UK's 1994 sustainable development strategy.
2. A series of 10 regional consultation meetings were arranged. Councillor Jack Evans (Basingstoke and Deane) and the Association's Honorary Secretary attended the South East meeting on 19 March on behalf of the District Councils.
3. Sustainable development is most usually defined as "development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The consultation paper expresses this in even simpler terms - "it is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come".
4. The Government's vision of sustainable development is based on four broad objectives -
Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone.
Effective protection of the environment.
Prudent use of natural resources.
Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
5, The consultation paper is based on themes, which are intended to bring together some of the most important economic, environmental and social objectives. In particular -
It looks at ways to encourage the development of goods and services which meet peoples' needs, but involve the use of fewer natural resources.
It considers how to promote sustainable communities for people to live and work in.
It considers policies to manage and protect our environment and resources.
It examines ways to send the right signals, through prices, regulations and information for the public.
It briefly reviews what international action needs to be taken, because one country's choices will affect not only that country, but also its neighbours and the wider world.
6. The consultation paper does not set out at this stage a draft strategy. Rather it is a step on the road towards that.
7. The regional consultation meeting in the South East brought together a wide range of people from Local and Central Government, other statutory agents, organisations with environmental and related interests, and business (including developers).
8. There were presentations from DETR Minister, Angela Eagle, and DETR and GOSE officials. There were also three best practice presentations - from the Southampton Environment Centre (with a very good plug for partnership working with councils and businesses in our area), the Environment Agency (on water resources) and the Banbury Community Education Council (on building a sustainable community).
9. The meeting also allowed about an hour and a half for questions, answers and comments. This aspect was particularly useful, as it covered a very wide range of issues. Perhaps the most substantial theme to come from this part was that all the various organisations involved needed to work together to secure sustainable development objectives, rather than to go into the process seeing it as some sort of confrontation or competition between the interests of environment protection and economic development.
10. Drawing the themes briefly together at the end of the meeting, the GOSE Regional Director, highlighted four points which had arisen -
(a) Are we being too complacent?
(b) The need to work together in partnership.
(c) The importance of spreading awareness, and involving people, so they buy in.
(d) The need to bring together fears that either not enough was happening, or that things were happening too fast.
11. The Regional Director stressed that the Government saw the consultation paper as a first step, and assured those attending that, although the consultation time frame on the Green Paper was short (by 29 May), the need for an on-going debate was recognised.
12. The Green Paper deals with major and complex issues and choices which have to be made at international, national and local levels. The issues are ones which all member Councils will be addressing, primarily through their Local Agenda 21 work.
13. Individual Councils will almost certainly be responding to the consultation process, and this is very much to be encouraged. I suggest that it would also be appropriate to aim to bring together an Association response - which could best reflect the common threads of those individual comments.
14. Accordingly, the Association is invited -
(a) To confirm that it will respond to the Green Paper; and
(b) To encourage member Councils to advise the Policy Officer of their main comments as soon as possible to facilitate the preparation of a common theme Association response.
|Author:||Nick Goulder, Policy Manager|
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