To achieve practical SD, when confronted with contradictory and competing interests, trade-offs may be required72 by taking into account each interests importance73 ie how efficiently we use resource energy and materials v labour productivity and environmental impact.

Legislative instruments have been passed to implement Government Sustainable Development policies in addition to the EPA and EA. 74 Though mainly drafted for separate defined areas to control one problem, ie water,75 air,76 land77, waste,78 energy, conservation and statutory nuisance, they are now part of laws covering, and sometimes cutting-across, various activities.By ensuring exploiting resources does not lead to unacceptable environmental degradation, promoting cleaner and more efficient machinery, eco-friendly consumer products,83 re-cycling and waste recovery84 these have gone some way to address the ways the use of natural resources may have adverse environmental impact, threaten eco-systems or quality of human life, therefore reducing environmental quality and obstruct SD. Some UK environmental instruments have been shelved to comply with higher EC standards and legislation.While these instruments may be more flexible than command and control mechanisms, are environmentally beneficial and cost effective as reducing enforcement and monitoring, they could affect industrial competitiveness and conflict with other policies, therefore less effective. Whilst SD recognises that if man is to benefit from a quality of life encompassing socio-economic development and environmental protection “…

[he] needs to be part of nature and not an outside force destined to dominate and control it as…

if he wins then he may be on the losing side”86 it is contradictory. Many natural resources are finite and SD not necessarily benefits everyone, may restrict personal freedoms so possibly contrary to social development and also challenge the “dead-hand” control of future generations87 and the Rule Against Perpetuities principles. Choosing resources which may be valuable now, might be valueless to future generations, and the concept of need is different to different people, eg recreational v planted fields.The relationship between economic growth and water quality indicators88 shows that economic growth does not always contribute to environmental degradation.  Economic growth may provide extra money for improving or maintaining environmental quality ensuring sustainability and reinforcement of social unity. Social policies can stabilise economic functions by helping people to be environmentally responsible. Environmental policies for waste management, conservation and pollution control help preserve natural resources and enhance the quality of life.

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Environmental legislation, as not always scientifically based, does not necessarily benefit everyone; compliance increases costs and enforcement and implementation can be inconsistent. Even though regulation gives everyone from producers90 downwards less maneuverability, SD can probably reconcile the conflicting objectives of socio-economic development and environmental protection in the short-term, if in this current economic climate wealthy nations are willing to. 91However, long-term this may prove more difficult.Unless present generations accept what they may consider as a lower standard of living, it may be impossible to conserve or improve the environment, harmonise free-trade92 as hoped for or, in the UK, achieve the four objectives of social progress, prudent use of natural resources, maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment and effective environmental protection.1 Goldfinch (Projects) Ltd v National Assembly for Wales and Flintshire County Council [2002] EWHC 1275 (Admin) 2 World Commission on Environment and Development: ‘Our Common Future’, (Brundtland Report) 1987.”…

meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet [theirs]. “World Summit on Sustainable Development, ‘Declaration on Sustainable Development’ Johannesburg 2002 4 Principle 21 Stockholm Declaration 1972 5R Fowke and D Prasad, ‘Sustainable Development, Cities and Local Government’ 33 Australian Planner (1996 ) 61 6 DETR ‘Building a Better Quality of Life: A Strategy for more Sustainable Construction’ (1999) 2. 1 7 Art 174(2) Consolidated EU Treaty (OJC 325/107); s54(1) Local Government Act 2000