Environmental planning is the process of facilitating decision making to carry out land development with the consideration given to the natural environment, social, political, economic and governance factors and provides a holistic framework to achieve sustainable outcomes. A major goal of environmental planning is to create sustainable communities, which aim to conserve and protect undeveloped land.
Environmental planning concerns itself with the decision making processes where they are required for managing relationships that exist within and between natural systems and human systems. Environmental planning endeavors to manage these processes in an effective, orderly, transparent and equitable manner for the benefit of all constituents within such systems for the present and for the future. Present day environmental planning practices are the result of continuous refinement and expansion of the scope of such decision making processes. Some of the main elements of present-day environmental planning are:
The environmental planning assessments encompass areas such as land use, socio-economics, transportation, economic and housing characteristics, air pollution, noise pollution, the wetlands, habitat of the endangered species, flood zones susceptibility, coastal zones erosion, and visual studies among others, and is referred to as an Integrated environmental planning assessment. It is the ability to analyze environmental issues that will facilitate critical decision making.
Environmental justice is the equitable inclusion and treatment of all human beings in all aspects of environmental planning, as well as in the enforcement of environmental legislation. It is increasingly recognized as a key part of environmental planning. Environmental justice issues are usually fought within communities to establish environmentally-friendly and accessible neighborhoods and living conditions, and to improve the local ecology. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared it essential that residents should play an active role in the reshaping of their neighborhoods. Many levels of government and international organizations agree on the need for equitable and sustainable housing and transportation, as core characteristics of environmental justice; these are considered today a part of the battle against the climate crisis. Environmental activists act as watchdogs on government support for the battles of underrepresented communities against environmental hazards that threaten their health or way of life.
In the United States of America, there have been numerous examples of the state provisioning of environmental justice in multiple communities. Listed are some of such projects:
In Canada, "Planners safeguard the health and well-being of urban and rural communities, by addressing the use of land, resources, facilities and services with consideration to physical, economic, and social efficiency" as stated on the Canadian Institute of Planners official website.
In the United States, for any project, environmental planners deal with a full range of environmental regulations from federal to state and city levels, administered federally by the Environmental Protection Agency. A rigorous environmental process has to be undertaken to examine the impacts and possible mitigation of any construction project. Depending on the scale and impact of the project, an extensive environmental review is known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and the less extensive version is Environmental Assessment (EA). Procedures follow guidelines from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and/or City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), and other related federal or state agencies published regulations. Eccleston has developed a set of tools and techniques for solving NEPA and environmental planning problems.
The Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) is a non-profit organization of interdisciplinary professionals including environmental science, resource management, environmental planning and other professions contributing to this field. AEP is the first organization of its kind in the US, and its influence and model have spawned numerous other regional organizations throughout the United States. Its mission is to improve the technical skills of members, and the organization is dedicated to "the enhancement, maintenance and protection of the natural and human environment". From inception in the mid-1970s the organization has been closely linked with the maintenance of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), due to California being one of the first states to adopt a comprehensive legal framework to govern the environmental review of public policy and project review.
In the Philippines, the Republic Act 10587 governs the practice of Environmental Planning. The law defines Environmental Planning as "a multi-disciplinary art and science of analyzing, specifying, clarifying, harmonizing, managing and regulating the use and development of land and water resources, in relation to their environs, for the development of sustainable communities and ecosystems.". It is sometimes referred to as urban and regional planning, city planning, town and country planning, and/or human settlements planning.
An Environmental Planner is a person who is registered and licensed to practice environmental planning and who holds a valid Certificate of Registration and a valid Professional Identification Card from the Board of Environmental Planning and the Professional Regulation Commission of the Republic of the Philippines. To be a licensed planner, one must prove that he/she has at least 2 years planning experience or a master's degree in a relevant field of study aside from a bachelor's degree in Engineering, Architecture, Economics, and other related Social Sciences. Areas of competency for planners are:
There is a current move to require in five years time the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Planning as a requisite for one to be a licensed environmental planner. As of this writing, the curriculum for BS Environmental Planning is being reviewed by the Board of Environmental Planning and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The only accredited organization for environmental planners in the Philippines is the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP).
Scope of Practice. – REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10587 The practice of environmental planning, within the meaning and intent of this Act, shall embrace the following:
Table 1.0 depicts the changes of focus in planning over the last 300 years in Australia, which has evolved from an amenity and resource use focus to an integrated approach which espouses the stewardship of natural systems for the continued long term viability of both human and natural systems.
|Public Interest||Resource||Resource and Environmental Protection||Environment Protection Acts and EIA||Integrated Natural Resource Management||Integrated Land use, Environment and Natural Resource Planning and Management|
|Late 1770s||1960s – 1980s||1970s – 1980s||1980s – 1990s||1990s|
|Health, common law||Resource development (Utilitarian)||Reducing environmental impacts of resource development||Specific environment protection legislation and agencies||Consolidated natural resource legislation and agencies||Integration of national, State, regional and local levels of plans / policies / roles|
|Pollution||Private rights||Pollution control||ICM and Land-care increased regional focus||Comprehensive and strategic planning / policies incorporating natural resource management, land-use planning and environmental management|
|Parks and reserves, conservation||EIA||Increased powers of EP legislation (Penalties)||Integrated regional planning|
|Environment protection policies||Incorporation with planning||National and state planning strategies|
|Regional economic development planning land use and resources integrated but low environment priority||Environment clearly defined||Broader responses to EP legislation||Increased local government responsibilities in planning and environmental management|
|Resource laws amended or new laws (Utility still paramount)||Some reference to planning (still narrow / specific focus) ESD EMS BMP Environmental values||Environmental priorities raised||Bio-regional planning? -> 2000+|
|Settlement||Development||Responses to environmental and public pressures : integration|
|Increased public awareness / participation, international agreements national legislation, policies, measures, strategies ESD; national, State, local roles clarified, environmental values recognised social, cultural, heritage and equity values recognised|
Relevant environment protection, planning & administering agencies and legislation at the level of commonwealth, states & territories are as shown in table below. Environmental planning policies vary from state to state.
|Commonwealth||Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999||Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage & the Arts|
|South Australia||Development Act 1993||Department of Planning & Local Government|
|Development Regulations 2008||Department of Environment & Heritage|
|Department of Environment & Natural Resources||Environment Protection Authority|
|New South Wales||Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979||Department of Planning and Industry|
|Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000||Department of Planning and Industry|
|Victoria||Planning and Environment Act 1987||Department of Infrastructure|
|Planning and Environment Regulations 2005||Department of Planning & Community development|
|Planning and Environment (Fees) Regulations 2000||Environment Protection Authority|
|Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009||Department of Transport|
|Transport Integration Act||Department of Transport|
|Queensland||Integrated Planning Act 1997||Department of Infrastructure and Planning|
|Integrated Planning Regulation 1998||Department of Environment and Heritage Protection|
|Sustainable Planning Act 2009|
|Tasmania||Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993||Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment|
|State Policies and Projects Act 1993|
|Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal Act 1993|
|Resource Planning and Development Commission Act 1997|
|Western Australia||Planning and Development Act 2005||Department of Environment & Conservation|
|Planning and Development (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2005||Department of Planning & Infrastructure|
|Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax Amendment Act 2005|
|Australian Capital Territory||Planning and Development Act 2007||The Planning & Land Authority|
The incorporation of environmental considerations in land-use planning in Australia began after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. One of the key principles developed in reference to planning and human activity was:
Principle 13 In order to achieve a more rational management of resources and thus to improve the environment, States should adopt an integrated and coordinated approach to their development planning so as to ensure that development is compatible with the need to protect and improve environment for the benefit of their population.UNEP
Previous to this conference the United States Congress passed National Environmental Policy Act, which created a process whereby government agencies were required to publicly state and justify the environmental impacts of their development proposals by preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS structure was further developed by Burchell and Listokin (1975), and this approach has informed the development of environmental impact regulation worldwide (Beer 1977), and resulted in the development of legislation within several Australian states.
In NSW the first attempt to incorporate environmental assessment and protection into planning law began in 1974 with the appointment of a Planning and Environment Commission to overhaul the existing predominately urban land-use system. After various delays the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) came into force on 1 September 1980. The EP&A Act incorporated a three tired system of State, Regional and Local levels of significance, and required the relevant control authority to take into consideration the impacts to the environment (both natural and built) and the community of proposed development or land-use change. Within the EP&A Act most development requires a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) or Review of Environmental Effects (REF) detailing the impacts to both natural and human environments, which should be taken into consideration by the regulatory authority. Significant projects require a more thorough Environmental Impact Assessment with a corresponding greater public scrutiny.
Concurrent with this development was the establishment of a parallel legal system, the Land and Environment Court, to arbitrate disputes. The EP&A Act has been amended over time, generally giving the government, acting through the Minister, greater powers to determine approval of development, particularly large projects of 'State Significance', but also to incorporate specific environmental laws, such as the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (Park 2010).
The Environment Effects Act 1978 was the first environmental planning control in Victoria, and it assessed the environmental impact of significant developments via an Environmental Effects Statement (EES). However the obligation for presenting an EES remained somewhat unclear and is ultimately at the discretion of the Minister for Planning (Eccles and Bryant 2007). The Planning and Environment Act 1987 created a statewide nested planning process, Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) which has within the statewide objectives:
"the protection of natural and man-made resources and the maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity" (PaE Act 1987, s4(1))
To achieve these ends, the VPP includes several overarching policy frameworks, including the identification of important environmental values and assets, such as 'protection of catchments, waterways and groundwater', 'coastal areas' and 'Conservation of native flora and fauna'. Below this level, local planning schemes identify land-uses through Zone designation, and also identify land affected by other criteria, called 'overlays'. Overlays include environmental parameters such as 'Environmental Significance', 'Vegetation Protection', 'Erosion Management' and 'Wildfire Management', but also social issues like 'Neighbourhood Character'. Below this again are various regulations on particular issues, such as details pertaining to regulation of areas of Native Vegetation DSE Victoria
Reform has occurred to the Victorian framework in recent years aimed at improving land use and transport outcomes including consideration of environmental impacts. The Transport Integration Act identifies key planning agencies as interface bodies required to have regard to a vision for the transport system and objectives and decision making principles if decisions are likely to have a significant impact on Victoria's transport system. In addition, the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 establishes a scheme to improve the approval and delivery of major rail, road and ports projects.
Planning in South Australia is coordinated within the Development Act 1993. Under this law most urban and land-use planning is assessed against local plans of allowed development. The Minister must declare a proposed development either 'Major Development' or a 'Major Project' for it to be subjected to greater depth of environmental assessment and public consultation, via an independent Development Assessment Commission of experts. Complex proposals will generally require an indepth EIS. Planning SA
The Integrated Planning Act 1997 vested most planning control with local government, but required 'significant projects' to be assessed by a State Coordinator General and usually required an environmental impact statement (EIS).
This has been replaced by the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 which came into force 18 December 2009. This law aims to 'improve sustainable environmental outcomes through streamlined processes', and incorporates Statewide, Regional and local planning hierarchies, which follow the model of Victoria's VPP. The Coordinator General may still declare projects to be 'significant projects' which then require assessment under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld).
|1973||Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Act 1973*||This act enabled the establishment of entities within Australian States to manage the release of land and undertake planning, urban development and infrastructure development in an orderly manner.|
|1974||Urban & Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Act 1974*||Established to provide financial assistance to states for the purpose of urban and regional development.|
|1975||Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975*||The main object of this Act is to provide for the long term protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Region.|
|1978||The Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978*||This is the primary legislation under which the division of The Supervising Scientist monitors, advises on, and manages environmental protection related activities in relation to uranium extraction and processing in Australia.|
|1979||Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979**||NSW environment planning and assessment legislation which recognised the importance of a comprehensive interpretation of the environment in relation to development planning.|
|1983||Commonwealth blocks the construction of the Franklin river Dam in Tasmania.||In 1982 Tasmanians elected a Liberal Government for the first time ever. The Premier, Robin Gray, had campaigned on building the Franklin Dam. In 1983, the then Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, took the Tasmanian Government to the High Court. It decided by just one vote to allow the Federal Government to stop Tasmania building the dam.|
|1991||Madrid Protocol is created in recognition of Antarctica as the last great wilderness on earth.||In recognition of Antarctica as the last great wilderness on earth the Madrid Protocol was created under the Antarctic Treaty System in 1991 to make certain mutually agreed resolutions on the environment legally binding upon member nations.|
|1993||Native Title Act 1993*||This Act recognises the occupation of Australia by indigenous peoples prior to European settlement.|
|1994||National Environment Protection Council Act 1994*||The Commonwealth, the States, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the Australian Local Government Association have entered into an Agreement known as the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment setting out certain responsibilities of each party in relation to the environment.|
|1995||Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995*||Established to provide financial assistance to local government.|
|1995||Publication of Australian Model Code for Residential Development (AMCORD) 1995 by the Australian Government.||A comprehensive model code developed for the purpose of providing model guidelines for residential development controls.|
|1997||Protection of the Environment (Operations) Act 1997**||A significant environmental protection legislation introduced by the State of NSW, under which a polluter with the highest likelihood maybe retrospectively held liable for damages.|
|1998||Formation of Development Assessment Forum (DAF)||The Development Assessment Forum (DAF) was formed in 1998 to recommend ways to streamline development assessment and cut red tape - without sacrificing the quality of the decision making. The Forum's membership includes the three spheres of government - the Commonwealth, State/Territory and Local Government; the development industry; and related professional associations.|
|1999||Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999*||Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The EPBC Act is the Australian Governments central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places defined in the Act as matters of national environmental significance. The Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts is required, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, to table a report in Parliament every five years on the State of the Environment (SOE).|
|2000||Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000*||This Act was established to:|
|(a) to encourage the additional generation of electricity from renewable sources; and|
|(b) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector; and|
|(c) to ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable.|
|2001||The Environment Protection and Heritage Council of Australia and New Zealand was established in June 2001 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).||The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) addresses broad national policy issues relating to environmental protection, particularly in regard to air, water, and waste matters. The EPHC also addresses natural, Indigenous and historic heritage issues. The EPHC incorporates the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC). The NEPC is a statutory body under the NEPC Acts of the Commonwealth, the states and the territories. The NEPC meets simultaneously with the EPHC. The NEPC Service Corporation provides support and assistance to both EPHC and NEPC.|
|2002||New South Wales State Environmental Planning Policy 65** - Quality of Residential Flat Development released in 2002.||This act was introduced to ensure the maintenance if design quality in residential flat buildings and thereby improve the quality of urban high density living.|
|2004||New South Wales State Environmental Planning Policy** - Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) 2004 is released.||This act was introduced to ensure adherence to minimum levels of sustainable design in residential development in the areas of water use, thermal comfort and energy use.|
|2005||AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005*||The object of this Act is to assist national and regional economic and social development by the provision of Commonwealth funding aimed at improving the performance of land transport infrastructure.|
|2005||Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005*||Under this act the Water Efficiency Labelling and standards (WELS) scheme was implemented to improve water use efficiency nationally for a variety of devices. The Australian Government administers the scheme in cooperation with state and territory governments, which have complementary legislation to ensure national coverage.|
|2007||Water Act 2007*||For more than a century our greatest system of rivers and aquifers, the Murray-Darling Basin, was managed between five states and territories, each of which has had competing interests. The Water Act provides the capacity to meet the future challenges facing water management in the Murray-Darling Basin, one of the nations great assets.|
|2007||The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007*||This Act was passed in September 2007 establishing a mandatory corporate reporting system for greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and production.|
|2007||Tamar Valley pulp mill development approved in 2007.||The Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2007 approved the controversial plan for a pulp mill in Tasmania's Tamar Valley, with 48 conditions. The nature of conditions imposed provides the commonwealth the power to exert influence on development based on environmental outcomes.|
|2008||The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is established.||The Murray–Darling Basin Authority's principal aim is to manage the Basin's water resources in the national interest. The establishment of the MDBA means that, for the first time, a single agency is now responsible for planning integrated management of the water resources of the Murray–Darling Basin.|
|2008||Formation of Infrastructure Australia.||Infrastructure Australia 2008. Infrastructure Australia has the primary function of providing advice to the Minister, Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments, investors in infrastructure and owners of infrastructure on matters relating to infrastructure, including in relation to the following:|
|(a) Australia's current and future needs and priorities relating to nationally significant infrastructure;|
|(b) policy, pricing and regulatory issues that may impact on the utilisation of infrastructure;|
|(c) impediments to the efficient utilisation of national infrastructure networks;|
|(d) options and reforms, including regulatory reforms, to make the utilisation of national infrastructure networks more efficient;|
|(e) the needs of users of infrastructure;|
|(f) mechanisms for financing investment in infrastructure.|
|2009||Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) fails to pass through Australian Parliament.||The pricing of Carbon via an emissions trading scheme was acknowledged as a necessity by both major political parties of Australia prior to 2007general election. However the proposed legislation in relation to an emissions trading scheme proved to be unpopular among some sections of the political realm.|
|2009||Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Act 2009*||In August 2009, the Government implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) Scheme, which is designed to deliver on the Government's commitment to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia's electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020.|
|2010||Transport Integration Act||In July 2010, the Victorian Government commenced a scheme to reform land use and transport activity across the state. The Act promotes strong policy, planning and operational connections between planning and transport decisions and has a sustainability theme which includes emphasis on environmental outcomes.|
Over the past decade the European Union has given the environmental more attention with more strict legislation on such issues as air, soil, and water pollution as well regulations for toxic and hazardous substances. Currently over 18% of the territory belonging to the EU is denoted as protected areas for nature. To date, the European Union's Environmental Policy is determined by the 7th Environmental Action Programme and is expected to be followed up through 2020. The EU has goals beyond this however and hopes by 2050 to have an "innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience."
The EU has three core objectives to help achieve this vision: conservation of natural resources, conversion to an efficient, environmentally sustainable economy, and protection of the health of citizens.
Environmental planning qualifications are offered in a number of forms by various universities throughout the world.
The following are some of the qualifications offered by tertiary education institutions: