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No More Need for Sustainable Development in Scottish Planning Policy?

Rules supporting sustainable development in Scotland will be removed under new Scottish Government proposals. Scottish Renewables is furious.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

The change would remove the presumption in favour of “development that contributes to sustainable development” from Scottish Planning Policy. Originally, the rule was introduced in 2014 and was intended to “support economically, environmentally and socially sustainable places”. For the renewable energy industry, that means developments which generate, use and store green energy and help tackle climate change.

Planning experts fear the change could be used to undermine applications, despite its implementation being the subject of a consultation which closes in October (2020). Scottish Renewables is not amused. Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, says the change “is a retrograde step for Scotland, and the renewable energy industry in particular”. Tackling the climate emergency means making the best use of Scotland’s natural resources to generate the energy we need to power our lives sustainably. The presumption in favour of sustainable development meant the benefits of renewable energy projects should be accorded proper weight when applications for new projects were being considered by planners. Scotland’s planning process is one of the most robust in the world, and the renewable energy industry is committed to working with that process, in partnership with government and communities, to ensure that the climate emergency and our net-zero commitments are central to planning decisions."

Scottish Renewables fears that in the absence of any proposal to immediately replace the presumption with a supportive policy of equal force for renewable energy developments, projects which are either already in, or soon to enter, the planning process could be negatively affected.

Watson added: “While the proposed changes are at consultation stage, the uncertainty the proposal creates is significant in the short term. While we await the outcome of the consultation, planning authorities and reporters will be bound to reconsider the weight to be given to the presumption in the light of clear proposals from The Scottish Government to delete it. At worst, the presumption will immediately lose its force.”

Scottish Renewables
Windfair Editors
Scottish Renewables, planning, Planning Policy, Scotland, government, proposal, sustainability, development, application, climate plans, net zero

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