We are the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. Through advocacy, advice and
appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy


Central to the concept of sustainable development is an acknowledgement that we must live within our environmental limits. How we use our land is therefore a critical and sometimes controversial issue for debate.

Many, although not all, of our land use planning decisions fall within the UK planning system. Sustainable planning should result in the improvement of places and a genuinely sustainable planning system should:

  • promote the highest quality development and most beneficial use of land
  • only promote development in the most appropriate locations at the most appropriate time
  • act in the public interest
  • assess and provide for needs rather than just meet demands
  • prevent development that is inappropriate, unnecessary, poorly located, or of poor quality.

The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new process for gaining approval for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and made the SDC a statutory consultee for all major infrastructure applications.

Our statutory duties

Our statutory duties, as set out by the Planning Act 2008, are explained below.

National Policy Statements

National Policy Statements set out the UK’s needs for infrastructure related to energy, transport, water supply and treatment, and hazardous waste. NPSs are used to determine whether an application is in the national interest. The full set of NPSs are expected to be completed over the next few years.

The UK Government is obliged to consult with the SDC on the development of all NPSs it prepares. We provide a response to each consultation, and each response is available for download below.

» View our consultation responses

Other planning work

The SDC also has a non-statutory advisory role related to sub-national planning issues. We respond to consultations on Policy Planning Statements and associated documents where appropriate, and responses are available for download below.

» Planning for a Sustainable Future: SDC Consultation Response

» SDC Response to The Planning Reform Bill

What we don't do

The SDC's remit is to advise central government on sustainable development. We are therefore limited in the breadth of work that we can undertake on planning.

We are unable to:

  • comment on individual sub-national planning applications or Local Development Frameworks
  • respond to individual enquiries regarding national planning consultations.