Trust responds to Scottish Parliament's Planning Bill
The John Muir Trust has submitted its response to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government & Communities Committee's call for evidence.
Responding to the Scottish Parliament's call for evidence on the proposed Planning (Scotland) Bill the John Muir Trust has called for the Bill to have an explicit reference to how protection and enhancement of the environment will be ensured.
Commented Helen McDade, the Trust's Head of Policy:- "the planning system is the primary way in which our natural and built environment is protected and enhanced, as it balances society’s need and wish for development of varying kinds with the need to protect and enhance our environment, for current and future generations. There are many aspects in the Bill which could bring improvements, or have the potential to be a major step forward."
"We are concerned that the draft Bill has virtually no mention of the natural environment or cultural heritage. This lack is further compounded by the draft Bill removing the need for a “Vision” from the Local Development Plans. We think the Bill needs to have a Purpose for Planning Statement, identifying the overarching aims of the planning policy and process. That Purpose should explain how the process will achieve protection and enhancement of the natural and cultural environment."
The Trust also emphasises the opportunity that the Bill presents to give Wild Land Areas, introduced by the Scottish Government to Scottish Planning Policy in 2014, the same protection as National Parks and National Scenic Areas, citing the over-whelming public support demonstrated for wild land protection in a YouGov poll 2017.
A further aspect that the Trust believes must be addressed in the Bill is the potential to increase public trust in the planning and political system by bringing in Equal Rights of Appeal. This would give communities a genuine opportunity to challenge poor decisions, which would encourage meaningful engagement by developers early in the process.
The Trust is encouraging its members and supporters to join it outside the Scottish Parliament on 21 February to show their support for wild land protection.
Find out more about the Trust's Keep it Wild campaign