ADVICE from an award-winning environmental team is providing a blueprint for planners Down Under.

Guidelines drawn up for environmentally-friendly development by a partnership led by Durham County Council are being adopted by authorities in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.

Planners and politicians in Australia's third city decided that the county council's Sustainable Development Guide exactly suited their needs.

The guide was drawn up to encourage developers and the wider community to build in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.

It first earned international acclaim at a United Nations World Summit on the subject, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last year, and has gone on to win five major awards.

Authorities in Brisbane invited Rod Lugg, one of the county council's leading planners, to Queensland to talk them through the strategy.

They plan to use it as a model for their own sustainable development plan.

Mr Lugg told them about initiatives like the annual County Durham Environment Awards, which could also be copied by the team in Brisbane.

During his visit, Mr Lugg delivered a key speech on sustainable development at a state conference held in Brisbane.

He said: "The authorities there realise they need to adopt more sustainable principles in their approach to planning and development.

"Having seen our Sustainability Guide, they consider it a ground-breaking piece of work which they wish to emulate and adapt for their current situation.

"It illustrates how the principles of sustainable development can be applied at each stage, from site identification through construction, to re-use and regeneration."

Apart from speaking at the conference, Mr Lugg gave presentations on sustainability issues to various bodies and organisations, including representatives of the Australian media.

He said: "They were extremely impressed with the way County Durham has transformed its environment over recent years."

Mr Lugg said his hosts had been interested in the controversial congestion charge which has been introduced for traffic in parts of Durham city centre.