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Councils may have to be given powers to build on green belt land, among others, if the government's strategy for en...
Councils may have to be given powers to build on green belt land, among others, if the government's strategy for environmentally sustainable development is to be successful.

This is just one of the issues raised in local government's response to Agenda 21, a document the UK government signed at the Earth Summit in 1992 along with more than 100 other countries. Agenda 21 advocates the development of policies which preserve the physical environment's ability to support life, such as clean air and fresh water.

'New housing will often generate less extra traffic if it encroaches on a green belt than if it is built the far side of it', says the response from the English, Scottish and Northern Irish associations.

In their response, A framework for local sustainability, together with input from the Local Government Management Board and the Local Government International Bureau, the associations say many of the issues involved in sustainable development arise at local or regional levels and decisions should be taken at these levels. They also ask the government for:

Stronger resources and powers for strategic land use, transport and the planning of resource management; A statutory requirement for competitive tendering contracts to include environmental management systems; Confirmation and clarification of power to specify environmental conditions in purchasing and service contracts; Power to appoint environmental audit officers and similar powers for financial monitoring officers.

The government should apply to itself the same rules on management, information, publications and finance that it applies to local government, the report says. A Framework for Local Sustainability is available from the LGMB, price £15 for councils in England and Wales. Fax: 0582 412525.

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