is that regard shall be had to ‘proper planning and sustainable development’,replacing the prior standard of ‘proper planning and development’. Other legislative provisions contain express reference to the concept without providing any definition
. TheMinister for the Environment, while introducing the Planning and Development Bill 2000 atSecond stage in An Seanad explained this lack of statutory definition thus:“
[Sustainable development is] such a dynamic and all-embracing concept, and one whichwill evolve over time, that any legal definition would tend to restrict and stifle it. Infusing theconcept through the Bill...gives effect to it in a holistic and comprehensive way”
More guidance can perhaps be found in the large number of policy documents dealing withthe concept of sustainable development and the inter-relationship between economicdevelopment and environmental protection. A key document in this area is the NationalSustainable Development Strategy 1997
, which adopts the Brundtland formula in adiscussion of the meaning of the concept. The Strategy refers to sustainable development as“a continuing process which needs ongoing assessment and refinement”, hence the prevailingreluctance to give it a rigid definition. An equivalent UK document
describes the keyobjectives of a strategy of sustainable development as: social progress which recognises theneeds of everyone; the effective protection of the environment; the prudent use of nationalresources; and the maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth andemployment.The following extract from the National Spatial Strategy 2002
is noteworthy: “
Sustainabledevelopment is more than an environmental concept, although it includes that important element. It also requires a combination of a dynamic economy with social inclusion, giving opportunities for all in a high quality environment.”
Sustainable development is alsoembodied as a core principle in the National Development Plan, and is mentioned in localarea plans and the development plans prepared by local authorities.
Such planning decisions as the adoption of a development plan (see s.9(6) Planning andDevelopment Act 2000), individual planning applications etc.
For example, the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2003 and the Sustainable Energy Act2002.
513 Dáil Debates Col. 1006, February 2, 2000.
Department of Environment,
Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland
, 1997,available at www.environ.ie. See p.20 for a discussion of the meaning of sustainable
Strategy for Sustainable Development – A Better Quality of Life,
Spatial Strategy for Ireland 2002-2020:People, Places and Potential.