Committee demands details on Budget statement of ’Presumption in favour of sustainable development’

MPs have demanded that the government explain what “sustainable development” means after Chancellor George Osborne said it would give companies a presumption in favour of development in yesterday’s Budget.

The environmental audit committee has produced a report that welcomes. the rule, but it critical of the government for not defining the term.

“We are concerned that the intention to introduce a presumption in favour of sustainable development might not be accompanied by a statutory description of what that means.

“As a result, the principles of sustainable development —living with environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, achieving a sustainable economy, promoting good governance and using sound science responsibly—are unlikely to be adequately represented in the planning process,” the report said.

The Chancellor yesterday confirmed that there would be a “new presumption in favour of sustainable development” in a major shakeup of the planning system.

The report, entitled Sustainable Development in the Localism Bill, was released on Tuesday rather than being a direct response to the Budget.