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Big business-slanted planning rules must be overhauled

This news post is almost 8 years old

​Communities must be given the same rights as developers to challenge planning decisions, campaigners say

Grassroots community campaigns and charities will gather this weekend to demand an overhaul of Scotland’s planning system.

A conference in Glasgow will hear calls for a radical reworking – with activists arguing current arrangements favour big business and developers.

The event is being hosted by campaigning charity Planning Democracy and will focus on the growing clamour from communities and environmental groups for major reforms of the planning system to allow for equal rights of appeal.

As things stand, developers have the right to challenge a decision by a planning authority which they disagree with – a privilege denied to those objecting to a development.

Helen McDade of the John Muir Trust, which is taking part in the conference, said: “This marks a further milestone in the campaign for a fair planning system in Scotland.

“Those objecting to a developments – whether an incinerator, a windfarm, an open-cast mine or a major housebuilding programme ­– have no redress other than to take legal action, which is prohibitively expensive for most groups. In contrast developers have an automatic right to appeal if their application is rejected.

Those objecting to a developments have no redress other than to take legal action, which is prohibitively expensive. In contrast developers have an automatic right to appeal

“This is fundamentally unfair, and it is to the credit of Planning Democracy that they have managed to pull together a diverse coalition of groups to call for level playing field.”

The Trust itself is currently involved in a judicial review against the 67-turbine Stronelairg wind farm in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains, which could involve legal costs running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It has also given support and financial backing to Sustainable Shetland, which recently lost a judicial review against the giant Viking windfarm proposed for Shetland.

McDade said: “We believe the Shetland example illuminates a wider problem with the system. Shetland Council is joint developer with a huge stake in the Viking windfarm application.

“Hardly surprisingly, they failed to object to an application in which they had a major financial interest. This meant there was no obligation on the Scottish Government to hold a public local inquiry.

“And when the government approved the application, those in the community objecting to the application had no right of appeal. Thus the biggest the wind farm north of the central belt was approved with no opportunity for public scrutiny.

“The John Muir Trust believes that there can be no social or environmental justice until communities and environmental charities have the same rights as developers.”

Planning Democracy’s conference takes place in Glasgow Trades hall on Saturday (25 April).



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