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Government Policies For Sustainable Development Reflected In Planning Policies At The Regional And Local Levels

Sustainable development is no longer a popular catch phrase used by environmental activists. It is now a matter of policy and planning at the highest levels in the UK and other countries. The Regional Spatial Strategy is a large-scale attempt by the UK to address both the environmental impact of human living in the UK and the spatial needs of its various regions. In 2005 Planning Policy Statement 1 was released by the UK government, and in 2006 the Southwest RDA released its response to the government's Regional Spatial Strategy.

In Planning Policy Statement 1, the government recognizes that several issues are required to maintain positive spatial planning for the country. It recognizes the importance of environmental protection, social progress which includes peoples' needs and a careful use of the country's natural resources. In other words - harmony and balance between people and nature. The policy paper uses terms such as "sustainable development", "inclusive design", and a distinct need to preserve England's unique historical countryside. One of the key principles in this policy statement is the recognition of global climate change and England's role in helping to address both its causes and the possible impact. There is the recognition that national, regional and local authorities and bodies must work together in order to be successful in sustainable planning. The report also places responsibilities on local communities to be involved with the process, which suggests that consumer input will be considered important. The report is a rather high-minded document which is often indicative of policy statements. Yet, as with many statements of this kind, it is less about creating a document that states what the government is committed to and what constitutes sustainable design, than it is about what action the government actually takes.

Dartmoor also happens to be an important centre of archaeological remains. The Dartmoor National Park Management Plan recognizes this. Prehistoric stone rows in Dartmoor are a testament to its archaeological importance and there may have been settlements in the area going as far back as 400 B.C. This marks the region as not only important to England but to the entire world as it contains some of the remnants of our earliest human settlements. The management plan will also provide an annual assessment of the 2,750 buildings in Dartmoor since over 100 of them were determined to be at risk in 2007.


Regional Spatial Strategy is a very determined and ambitious plan for England. While there is some concern that some of the policies and/or guidelines do not go far enough with respect to environmental protection, it is an enormous and positive beginning. If other countries would follow England's example there would likely be more definitive progress in fighting global warming and other serious environmental issues. There is no such entity as a perfect plan but this particular one identifies England as taking an enormous step forward in the fight to create a more sustainable future not just for Britain but for the world. When a country as influential as England marks sustainable development as one of its core principles for the future, it provides inspiration for the rest of the European Union and certainly other countries in the world. Under President George W. Bush, there has been much concern that he has ignored the environment and the serious damage the human carbon footprint creates. The RSS will hopefully inspire America's new president and other world leaders to take similar steps. While it is not a perfect plan, it is an excellent step forward.

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