Initial terms of reference include:
(1) the functions of the Council as County Planning Authority in relation to preparation of the Structure Plan, the Development Plan Scheme, planning and transportation policy
(2) the functions of the Council under Section 203 of the Local Government Act 1972 relating to public transport
(3) the policy-making functions of the Council in relation to refuse and waste disposal.
Planning responsibilities were imposed on both county and district authorities by the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and Local Government Act 1972. Whilst the 1971 Act conferred many powers concurrently on both tiers the later Act attempted to clarify responsibilities by making some powers mandatory at a particular tier. District Council powers included development of local plans, consultation with parish and community councils and applications for local planning consent. The continuing overlap in responsibilities under this legislation necessitated extensive consultation and cooperation between planning authorities.
The Environmental Committee was responsible for overall policy-formulation and coordination of the separate Planning, Highways and Amenities and Countryside Committees.
The Environmental Committee was reconstituted in May 1977 when it took over full responsibility for the functions of the Planning and Highways Committees which were abolished, and inherited some functions from the Amenities and Countryside Committee (see CC2/10, CC2/8 and CC2/5). Some functions were delegated to two new subcommittees: Traffic and Works; Smallholdings.
The Environmental Committee was reconstituted in May 1981 when responsibility for land drainage and smallholdings was transferred to the Land, Buildings and Supplies Subcommittee of the Policy and Resources Committee and it acquired the functions of the Recreation Committee (see CC2/15).
Terms of reference revised again in April 1987 when the functions of the Recreation Subcommittee were transferred to the Museums, Arts, Libraries and Leisure Committee and it acquired functions relating to the Water Authorities and land drainage.
Terms of reference revised in 1996: Environmental Committee retained overall strategic responsibility for planning, public transport, roads and traffic management, monitoring and promotion of the County's economic and environmental well-being, identification of gypsy sites and Council's functions as a waste disposal authority (responsibility for waste regulation was transferred to the Environment Agency in April 1996). Powers delegated to two new subcommittees: Planning; Highways.