Food groups press government to prioritise sustainable food in planning

Sustain has submitted a response to the government's consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, urging greater prioritisation of healthy and sustainable food and farming.

Sustain has today submitted a response to the government's consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, urging greater priority for sustainable food and farming in planning policy.

Drawing on the expertise of several of its expert members, in particular, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and The National Trust, Sustain expressed very serious reservations about the draft National Planning Policy Framework’s proposed definition of sustainable development. Specifically, the response stated that we believe the conflation of sustainable development with growth is fundamentally wrong. 

"The work of leading sustainability analysts such as Professor Tim Jackson, along with many recent scientific publications, shows - with powerful clarity - that growth is simply incompatible with sustainability," said Jeanette Longfield, coordinator of Sustain. "To base the entire National Planning Policy Framework on this flawed premise threatens the viability of the entire framework. This is not to argue in favour of stasis. Indeed, society will need to be at its most creative and dynamic to solve the problems we face. However, creativity could make matters worse, instead of better, if it is focused on growth."

Sustain's consultation response notes that the effects of planning on the food system affect what we eat, how and where we eat it and our long-term physical and mental well-being. It points out with concern that food has not been specifically included in most planning policy (unlike other essentials of human existence such as water, air, transport, and housing). In recent years this has begun to change with some local authorities recognising the importance of incorporating food systems into planning (e.g. in the London Plan). Internationally there is now the American Planning Institute’s policy on food. Food was also the subject of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s “world planning day” in 2010. How to make the food system more resilient and sustainable is being more widely recognised as an urgent and essential issue, given the backdrop of climate change and fluctuating food and oil prices. 

Sections of the response deal with retail diversity and food shopping that meets people's day-to-day needs and provides local jobs, as well as opportunities for local residents to grow more of their own food, alongside more traditional planning concerns such as protecting the best and most versatile agricultural land for farming.

Download the document: Sustain's response to the National Planning Policy Framework [150kb PDF]

Find out more about Good Planning for Good Food in Sustain's recent report on spatial planning policy and food

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Local Action on Food: The Local Action on Food network was run as part of the Big Lottery funded Making Local Food Work programme, 2007 to 2012. It has now closed.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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