The Scottish Wildlife Trust has commented on proposed changes to Scotland’s planning system which would see a presumption in favour of development that is sustainable. The Trust is concerned that this may shift the emphasis from a plan-led system to a developer-led system.
This could put a squeeze on Scotland’s wildlife and habitats, especially if decisions have to be made by hard-pressed local authorities who have to weigh-up any possible economic benefits of development.
Head of Policy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Dr. Maggie Keegan, said: “It looks like Scotland is now following the English planning system here, where there is already a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
“While the Scottish Wildlife Trust is pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to stakeholder concerns regarding not adopting the term ‘sustainable economic growth’ in planning guidance, there may be a thin line between presumption in favour of any old development and a sustainable development. The principles will have to be consistently and robustly applied for it to have any meaning.
“The Trust could envisage possible scenarios where local authorities have to decide whether to give the go-ahead to ‘sustainable housing’ development in a local wildlife site.
“Hard-pressed councils could find making objective decision-making very difficult in such circumstances.”