Climate friendly planning framework a ‘turning point’ says minister
Planning authorities will have to consider the climate emergency when making local development plans and responding to planning applications under the proposed new planning framework.
The Scottish Government has published a draft of the fourth version of the National Planning Framework, which planning minister Tom Arthur said was a “turning point for planning in Scotland”.
If adopted, planners will be required to encourage applications which promote sustainable travel, the restoration of nature and biodiversity, and create more homes.
The framework also encourages planners to think about adapting to the impacts of climate change, including flooding and coastal vulnerability.
Addressing MSPs at Holyrood, Arthur said: “Our proposals will help us achieve our just transition to net zero emissions by helping to deliver more renewable energy, protecting our natural environment and creating better, healthier places to live.”
The framework will be scrutinised by the parliament over the next three months and consultation with the public will also take place.
The minister added: “It is this parliament’s opportunity to be clear about what’s needed in shaping Scotland’s future. It is our opportunity to lead the transition to stronger, greener, fairer healthier communities across Scotland.”
The framework includes 18 national developments which the government considers to be of “national importance”.
These include creating a national active travel network; a network of circular economy facilities; mass transit plans for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen; and high speed rail.
But concerns have been expressed about what the plan means for road building projects, including the dualling of the A9 and A96.
SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn Fergus Ewing called on the minister to confirm the framework “does not and will not in any way, manner or means delays, detract, diminish or dilute” the A9 commitment.
Arthur replied there was a need to minimise travel by “unsustainable modes” and pointed to planned investment to support electric vehicle infrastructure.
Pushed further by Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnson on the A9, the minister added: “There is no change to the government’s policy.”