"The concept of sustainable development is hindering environmental planning". Do you believe this statement to be true or false? Argue your reasons.

Does Sustainable Development support Environmental Planning?

Introduction

Globally, among the core issues informing debates are those related to the environment such as climate change and global warming. Both the developing and developed nations such as those in Europe and Africa continents are focusing on safeguarding the environment across various sectors through strict regulations such as mitigating the release of greenhouse gases. This brings to fore the concept of sustainability and development. According to Pearce (2014), sustainable development entails meeting the current needs while avoiding compromise with future generations sufficing their requirements. Notably, unsustainable development concept is significantly related to various challenges faced globally across the social, economic, and environmental pillars. Some of the key arguments on the effects of unsustainable development include irresponsible banking causing financial crises and the global dependence on conventional energy sources such as fossils which negatively resulting in climate change (Singh, 2015). Another primary concept is environmental planning which Loppolo, Cucurachi, Salomone, Saija, and Shi (2016) define as the evaluation process of how the economic, social, governing, and political factors impact the natural environment during development. Essentially, environmental planning objective is to ensure both the environment and society are effectively considered for their co-existence. This paper, therefore, explores the relationship between environmental planning and sustainable development. Specifically, the discussion below explores whether sustainable development supports or hinders environmental planning. Sustainable development does not hinder environmental planning as reflected in the mutual aim of the two concepts in meeting the current and future needs and protecting and improving the environment

Sustainable Development and Environmental Planning

The United Kingdom (UK) sustainable development strategy recognizes the definition of sustainable development concept according to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 42/187 (GOV.UK, 2012). In the definition, fundamental terms are in meeting the current needs without affecting the ability of future generations in meeting their requirements. In this regard, five primary guiding principles have been put forward including fostering a just, healthy, and strong society, living within the limits of the environment on the planet, promoting an economy that is sustainable, ensuring effective governance, and using science responsibly. The interlink between environmental planning and sustainable development is centred on three dimensions of social, economic, and environmental. As argued by Singh (2015), these dimensions introduce the importance of a profound planning system to conduct various roles. In the economic role, it is described by building a responsive, strong, and competitive economy. This is achieved by ensuring the right type and sufficient land is available for supporting innovation and growth. In addition, the economic role is achieved through effective identification and coordination of development needs including infrastructure and provision.

Another aspect demonstrating the relationship between environmental planning and sustainable development is the social role which entails providing support to the vibrant, strong and healthy communities. The housing sector presents as a major realm in this regard where the requirements and needs of both the current and future generations are met. In addition, the social role is met through the creation of high built environmental quality that also has accessible local services reflecting on the community preferences (Loppolo et al. 2016). Three fundamental aspects supported by the social role are health, cultural, and social well-being. The third role that depicts the interaction between environmental planning and sustainable development is the environment which contributes to not only protecting the natural environment but also enhancing it. Pearce (2014) describes this role and relates its importance to improving bio-diversity, prudently using natural resources, reducing pollution and wastes, and adapting and mitigating to climate change. Climate change in this regard is addressed by promoting a low carbon economy according to the GOV.UK (2012). To achieve sustainable development, the three roles are undertaken collaboratively since they are mutually dependent.

The UK government acknowledges the importance of sustainability in its development plans and therefore provides sufficient support to assist the world to regain a natural surrounding and good health among the people. Through environmental planning, the UK purpose to deliver clean water and air to both the rural and city landscapes, provide rich habitats and protect the endangered species (HM Government, 2018). The approach advocated for in this regard is that which puts the environment first in various realms including land use, forestry, and agriculture. In the 25-year environmental plan, its focus mainly entails providing a Green Brexit based on reforming the fisheries and agriculture management. In addition, the plan aims at reviewing and improving how care is provided to the land, rivers, and seas. As outlined by the GOV.UK (2012) on the environmental role in sustainable development, the pursuit is to enhance the quality levels of the historic, natural, and built environment. Further, the development aims at positively improving the communities’ quality of life both in the city and rural set-ups.

The 25-year plan aligns with the sustainable development plans and endeavors through proposals that tackle the escalating challenges of soil and waste degradation. According to Waage et al. (2015), these issues are not only imminent but also occurring if sustainable development plans are not put in place. The 25-year plan sets out to handle the critical issue of climate change which presents as the main risk to the environment. This is related to the increased sea and land temperatures, sea levels rising, alterations to the weather patterns, and acidification of the ocean which cause harm to marine life. The HM Government (2018) planning initiatives and the GOV.UK (2012) on sustainable development reveals that the concept of sustainable development hindering environmental planning is false. This is based on the relationship between the two with the common goal of protecting the environment and restoring a natural habitat for the ecosystem. In the 25-year goals, the adopted plan is aimed at achieving clean air and water, thriving wildlife and plants, mitigating environmental hazards and risks that arise therein such as drought and floods, efficiently and sustainably putting to use resources from nature, and improving the heritage, beauty, and engaging with the natural surroundings. The plan further purpose to manage pressures created for the environment by climate change which emanates from aspects such as using conventional energy sources, wastes, the release of chemicals, and GHGs. Also, adopting the plan aims at enhancing biosecurity.

The support of sustainable development in environmental planning is that both are centred on a number of fronts and policies aimed at maximizing value and benefits for money. GOV.UK (2012) notes that environmental planning requires law on permissions that should be determined according to the development strategy. Based on the framework on national planning policy, the development plan status does not change as the foundation of decision making. In the proposed sustainable development plan, it should be in accordance to the current local plan and should be approved first before being executed (Adams, 2016; Stafford-Smith et al., 2017). Failure to meet the established laws and policies calls for the plan being rejected. This reflects on how sustainable development supports environmental planning through acknowledging laws from various dimensions such as sustainable use of land, improving landscape beauty, connecting the environment with the people to enhance their health and wellbeing, reduce pollution and wastes, protecting water bodies such as rivers, seas and oceans, and improving the global environment.

Sustainable development support to environmental planning can further be reflected in the UK energy and housing sectors where the plans are consistent with environmental protection. Murray-White (2016) examines the eco-housing initiative in the UK and notes that they are built according to sustainable development principles. This is reflected in the use of technologies and resources that capitalize on the concept of renewability (Elsharkawy and Rutherford, 2015). The eco-housing projects focus on creating a new community. Evaluating one of the housing projects, the Slateford Green Housing in Edinburgh involves 120 homes which were built in 2000 at an approximated cost of 9.5 million Euros (Murray-White, 2016). The project’s sustainability is demonstrated in the characteristics of the estates where rather than having car parking, the land is used for garden, children playing field and allotments. These aspects surround a pond and reed beds which serve the filtration of storm and surface water role. In environmental planning, it is described by facilitating decisions that consider four main factors and providing a holistic framework to foster outcomes that are sustainable. One of the factors is social which entails protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of the people. In addition, the wildlife is considered in the plans to protect and enhance their natural habitat.

The eco-housing project encourages wildlife through an artificial wetland that is planted with reduced maintenance and native species. The characteristics and features of these houses which reflect on sustainable development and planning include insulation using recycled newspapers, using a breathing wall membrane, photovoltaics, and having a recyclable roof that is made of aluminum. The energy sustainability issue in the UK is related to the housing initiative as reflected in a plan to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 80% by 2050. According to Thomson (2014), the housing sector accounts for approximately 27% of the Carbon II Oxide. The housing sector is considered to play a major role in this reduction endeavor. The economic aspect of environmental planning is reflected in the saving costs incurred in addressing climate change that emanates from the carbon emissions. Some of the sustainable measures include building decent homes that align with the green initiative. The energy aspect of the houses is promoted in the engineering design features (Roufechaei, Baker, and Tabassi, 2014). Energy efficiency as depicted in the Knowsley village where there are 26 bungalows is based on three main hallmarks. These include airtightness and insulation improvement using the multifoil insulation, replacing the chimneys with gas fires, and using mechanical ventilation which is purposed at recovering more than 80%-90% of the heat obtained from air changes that are controlled. The heat recovery approach is further aimed at promoting the air quality.

Considering the political and regulatory aspects of environmental planning, they are described by the policy measures. Uyarra, Shapira, and Harding (2016) examined some of the approaches put in place to promote sustainable housing in the UK through the regulatory, economic, and exhortatory measures. Among the initiatives analyzed by Uyarra et al. (2016) is the 100% zero carbon which was aimed to be achieved by 2016. Notably, the environmental plans in the energy and housing sectors are aimed at ensuring a sustainable environment and with the plans being based on more than three decades, it is apparent that sustainable development does not hinder environmental plan. Rather, the two concepts are used collaboratively to promote the quality and natural environment that enhance the health and wellbeing of the people and wildlife. This is achieved through the integration of engineering and policies related to energy and housing which are critical sectors in the UK sustainable development.

Sustainable development cannot be achieved without the considering the environment which depicts the importance of environmental planning concept. The environment in this regard entails the air, land, water, and the ecosystem. The UK 25-year plan is centred on goals offered by the clean and healthy environment (Vaughan, 2018). Among the plans include clean air which is set to be achieved through meeting the legal targets on reducing five main air pollutants and ending the sale of new traditional diesel and petrol vans and cars by 2040. Considering the clean water goal, it is to be achieved by reducing water abstractions of groundwater and rivers. In addition, the plan aims at reducing water loss through leaks by approximately 15% by 2025 (HM Government, 2018). Protecting the water, land, and air will be achieved by mitigating environmental hazards, efficiently using the resources and ensuring the development approaches are consistent with the legal binding. As the world shifts focus on renewable energy, the UK is at the forefront in implementing the initiative through considering the wind and solar energy sources while reducing the overdependence on fossil fuel-based energy (de Groot, Campbell, Ashley, and Rodwell, 2014; Seyfang, Hielscher, Hargreaves, Martiskainen, and Smith, 2014). The environment as the central foundation in both sustainable development and the environment is a succinct indication of the relationship between the two concepts and refute the argument that one hinders the other.

Conclusion

Global focus is centred on averting climate change and global warming challenges which threaten the existence of humanity and wildlife. Both developed and developing nations are devising plans that are consistent with the concept of sustainable development which is defined as meeting the present needs without compromise to those of the future. Based on the above discussion, it is apparent that sustainable development cannot be achieved without considering the environment in the planning. In the UK, the relationship between environmental planning and sustainable development is reflected in various aspects among them the 25-year plan that mainly focuses on promoting the quality of air, water, and land, eco-housing, and the energy sector. In environmental planning, it is described by facilitating decision making while considering the social, political, economic, governance, and environmental factors to foster sustainable outcomes. It is therefore apparent that sustainable development does not hinder environmental planning as both concepts ensure the current and future needs are met profoundly while protecting and promoting the environment.

References

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