Town Planning Review

Taking a de-binarised envirosocial approach to reconciling the environment vs economy debate: lessons from climate change litigation for planning in NSW, Australia

Town Planning Review (2014), 85, (1), 67–96.

Abstract

In 1979 the New South Wales planning system was considered visionary when it introduced public participation and consideration of environmental matters in land-use decision-making long-dominated by resourcist perspectives. A resurgence of the economic rationalist agenda has compromised these early gains, and the system has since failed to deliver ecologically sustainable development, liveable communities and good governance. In several recent climate change cases, the specialist Land and Environment Court has equated the public interest with ecologically sustainable development. By de-binarising the false human-nature dichotomy, the court has reframed and reconciled the environment vs economy debate and achieved better planning outcomes. We describe this approach as envirosocial, and we show how adopting an envirosocial approach, supported by a renewed commitment to integrated evidence-based policy and broader public participation, could be used to realise a more sustainable future.

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Bartel, Robyn

McFarland, Paul

Hearfield, Colin