The Extent To Which The Principle Of Sustainability Guides Land Use Policy Development

1793 words - 7 pages

The Extent to Which the Principle of Sustainability Guides Land Use Policy Development

The idea of developing in such a way that the present can meet their
needs without future generations needs being compromised is not a new
one. It has been practiced and continues to be practiced by many
groups of people across the world. For example, this principle is
embedded in Aboriginal beliefs that they come from the land, and must
return to the land and so must be custodians to the land. The
Brundtland Commission, chaired by the Norwegian prime minister,
brought the concept to the foreground where the famous definition of
sustainability was given. This essay will discuss the idea of
sustainability, how the principle first emerged in policy, and what
potential it has in the future development of land use policy.

As the basis of all human activity, land is important in achieving
sustainability and as such it is essential to focus on the planning
and regulation of land use change. However, in order for this to take
place the objectives of a policy must be certain before it can be
implemented. Some people would argue that there is no need for
government as market forces will lead to the best outcome in terms of
total welfare. This has led to sustainability as a principle being
described as a ‘problem’[1] which conflicts with such short term
purely economic views. It is also said that economists are concerned
with questions about means rather than ends.

The reality is that with such a system externalities would not be
accounted for and their would be no provision of public goods and so
it may be justified to infringe on property rights to implement land
policy. Others may argue that land use policy should do more than
simply clear up after market failures and allow for dialogue which
provides space for different conceptions of what is best, through some
concept of the ‘public interest’ – which in this case, taking a long
term perspective may be sustainability. ‘Limits to Growth’[2] is a
book that tried to explain how economic expansion must soon come to an
end , because of environmental limits. ‘Our Common Future’, the
sequel to this book, starts from essentially similar understandings
of the nature of the economy-environment interconnections, but draws
the conclusion that growth can and should continue, however, this
growth would take a different form from past growth, and should be
sustainable.

By the start of the 1990s about three-quarters of councils in England,
Scotland and Wales already had a ‘green plan’ of some kind in effect
or in preparation, some explicitly recognising the need to extend to
global issues such as global warming as well as local matters. What
was new in the 1990s was the degree to which central government began
to give formal support to...

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