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Previous Action

Between 2000 and 2006 a coalition of civil society groups, including members of Planning Democracy, campaigned for a 'Third Party Right of Appeal' in the planning system – a change that would balance the existing right of appeal against the refusal of planning permission with a right of appeal against the grant of planning permission (for certain people in specific circumstances).

The campaign had various levels of support from political parties. In 2004 the then Scottish Government published a consultation on third party right of appeal. 86% of respondents were supportive but the government ultimately ruled out the introduction of a balancing right of appeal in 2005. Incoming administrations have inherited, and so far retained, this policy approach.

Administrations before and after the 2007 election stated that the revisions to planning procedure which were put in place (through the Planning (Scotland) Act 2006 and subsequent Regulations), with an emphasis on “upfront consultation” should enable members of the public with concerns about planning proposals to positively influence Applications.

As part of our work to promote public engagement in decision-making Planning Democracy has worked to increase the understanding of communities and individuals affected by the planning process and has campaigned to improve the rights of those whose lives are affected by planning decisions.

Since 2010, we have:

Spoken to over 100 communities and conducted case study research to inform a list of changes that would create a more fair and inclusive planning system – The lack of equal rights of appeal was seen as deeply unfair by the communities we have spoken to and those who attended a conference organised by Planning Democracy - 'The People's Conference' in 2012.

We successfully campaigned, with others, for a change to the 'rules of court' in 2013 to make the only existing appeal route more accessible Judicial Appeal is the only route open to objectors where an Application is granted and it generally deals exclusively with administrative failures and not the merits of a decision. The change to the 'rules of court' made it easier for people going to court to gain a Protective Expenses Orders (PEO) in cases dealing with environmental matters. PEOs cap the costs of going to court to provide a level of certainty for petitioners but costs are generally capped at £35,000 – way out of reach of most people and directly at odds with the Aarhus Convention's provisions on access to justice [this general area is the subject of another petition: PE01372]. However, many objectors and “public interest” organisations such as charities are likely to be excluded from a PEO.

In January 2014 we submitted written evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee during its scrutiny of the National Planning Framework 3 and revised Scottish Planning Policy which included recommendations to strengthen people’s appeal rights.

We sent round a briefing to all MSPs attending the parliamentary debate on the NPF3 in March 2014 that included a recommendation for an equal right of appeal.

Most recently we met and corresponded with the Minister for Environment and Climate Change who confirmed the Government’s existing policy on rights of appeal.

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