Key environmental issues should be improved in Scotland’s planning framework

14.03.2014

The third National Planning Framework (NPF) is an ambitious document that will play a fundamental role in delivering reductions to Scotland’s greenhouse gas targets but needs to be improved in a number of key environmental areas, according to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

Issues including peatland protection, the delivery of zero waste, supporting low carbon patterns of development and the development of a low carbon heat network should all be strengthened within the framework.

The Committee welcomes the framework, but in order to specifically meet Scotland’s challenging climate change targets, the Committee wants to see carbon assessments carried out for all developments. 

The Committee is also calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that the NPF aligns with the delivery of sustainable flood risk management and prioritises the reduction in the overall flood risk in developments, making it clear that housing and other developments should avoid flood risk areas.

The issue of prioritising the roll out of digital infrastructure to remote and rural areas was also raised by the Committee, who want to see if the NPF could be used to further support connectivity for those in rural areas.

Convener of the Committee, Rob Gibson MSP said:

“A sustainable environment should be at the heart of an effective planning system. The national planning framework is a positive and ambitious document that will sit at the top of the planning hierarchy and will contribute to helping Scotland’s communities adapt to climate change.

“However, we need a clearer focus on some key areas to ensure that the planning system reflects our environmental ambitions. If we are to meet challenging targets, we must take bold action.

“Given the recent devastation caused by flooding south of the border and indeed some parts of Scotland, the Committee is resolute in its opposition to developments on flood risk areas.”

The Committee also called on the Scottish Government to review the process for consideration of the NPF by increasing parliamentary scrutiny from 60 to 90 days given the significance of the document.

Background

The draft third National Planning Framework (NPF) was laid in Parliament on 14 January. 

Three other Committees also scrutinised the NPF for issues within their portfolios, including Economy, Environment and Tourism, Local Government and Regeneration and Infrastructure and Capital Investment.

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