Following recent debate around the Cardiff Local Development Plans, Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner has explained the advice that she had already provided to local politicians in respect of her powers under the Well-being of Future Generations Act and how the legislation can be applied to such issues.

“The Well-being of Future Generations Act defines sustainable development as the process of improving the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales by taking action, in accordance with the sustainable development principle. As Future Generations Commissioner, I have a general duty to promote the sustainable development principle set out in the legislation, to act as a guardian of the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and to encourage public bodies to take greater account of the long-term impact of things they do.  The legislation structures these powers, including my power to conduct a review, around providing advice and assistance to public bodies in how they should apply the sustainable development principle as well as how they set and meet well-being objectives.

“Unlike other Commissioners, I do not have express enforcement powers under the Act and in applying my powers I must be mindful of a range of views and a wide range of issues which are covered by the Act, the national well-being goals and the whole population of Wales now, and in the future. I have to direct the powers given to me by the Act and the resources provided for me to exercise them to areas which can have the biggest strategic impact.

“I do not have powers to compel a public body to change a decision that has been taken. It is also important to note that the decision to adopt the Cardiff Local Development Plans was taken by elected Councillors in February 2015, prior to the Act coming into force. The Council were therefore under no statutory obligations to apply the legislation at that time. Sophie Howe | Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

“Given the powers and resources I have and these constraints, I believe the most effective way for me to ensure that future decisions relating to Local Development Plans are taken in a way which takes account of sustainable development is to work with Welsh Government to ensure that future approaches and guidance issued in respect of such plans (either new ones or during the process of reviewing existing plans) apply the Well-being of Future Generations Act. I have already contacted the government to discuss this approach and will shortly be meeting with senior planning officials to discuss how this work will be taken forward. “