Dear Sir / Madam,
I read with interest your article on a call for an overhaul of the planning system by a group of environmental and social groups angered by the granting of permission to a number of wind farms and a handful of other decisions they have opposed.
Scotland’s planning system has undergone major reform in recent years and I believe is held with high regard across the UK. A strong policy framework provides the context for planning decisions to be taken balancing the environmental, economic and social opportunities and potential impacts. National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy, as well as more local planning policies, help shape decisions.
The planning system is certainly not broken and does not need further upheaval; rather we live in a democratic country within which decisions on major planning applications are made. Does anyone truly believe the creation of a new, unelected Quango is the answer?
I do not recognise the contention that ‘public confidence in the planning system is at an all-time low’. This does not chime with the messages I hear from across Scotland through communities and developers.
The planning system has an important role and we need to continue to provide stronger leadership across both public and private sectors, including politicians, to protect and enhance our wonderful environment whilst moving to a low carbon economy. What we cannot have is a veto on planning decisions from any group, no matter how well intentioned.
The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland would welcome further engagement with this alliance of heritage and environmental bodies to better understand their concerns and to see how we could work together.
Convenor, Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland
This letter is published in The Herald, Tuesday 3rd March 2015.