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Economic growth at centre of planning revamp

National projects identified and scenic areas protected.

Planning Minister Derek Mackay has yesterday launched the Scottish Government’s vision for planning in Scotland.

The National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) will shape long term economic development and local planning policy in areas such as transport, town centres, energy and infrastructure, and balance economic growth with protection of our environment.

NPF3 confirms the Government’s support for 14 large-scale national developments, including major regeneration schemes at Dundee Waterfront and Ravenscraig, carbon capture and storage schemes in Peterhead and Grangemouth, and support for improvements at our airports.

NPF3 and SPP also place a ban on windfarm development in the 19 per cent of Scotland identified as National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Significant protection is provided to sensitive areas of land identified within Scottish Natural Heritage’s Wild Land Areas Map 2014, also published yesterday. In total, approximately 30 per cent of Scotland’s landscape will benefit from stronger protection against inappropriate development.

In addition to the new rules protecting Scotland’s most scenic areas, tighter controls on onshore oil and gas developments have been introduced.

Five new measures are also being introduced in relation to hydraulic fracturing, including bringing in a requirement for buffer zones to ensure development only proceeds if communities and the environment can be protected. Operators will also have to consult with communities on their proposals.

Launching the publication of NPF3 in Glasgow yesterday, Derek Mackay said:

“Today is a watershed for planning in Scotland – this revised planning policy will deliver improvements that will benefit the nation for decades to come.

“Our ambition is to create great places that support economic growth across the country, and together, NPF3 and the SPP set out a shared vision for Scotland as a place which benefits from a positive planning system that protects our unique environment.

“NPF3 confirms our support for 14 national developments that will drive economic growth, champion our most successful places, and support changes in areas where, in the past, there has been a legacy of decline

“This strategic focus will support the regeneration and reindustrialisation of Scotland, as well as improving transport and connectivity links, and ensuring sustainable development through support for green networks and low carbon energy supply.”

Commenting on new measures to strengthen protection for scenic areas and wild land in relation to onshore wind farms and new measures to strengthen planning policy in relation to unconventional oil and gas development, Mr Mackay added:

“The Scottish Government remains strongly committed to releasing Scotland’s onshore wind energy potential, however we have always made clear that we want the right developments in the right places.

“We have taken steps to ensure that no wind farm developments can go ahead in our cherished National Parks and National Scenic Areas, and we have strengthened the protection of wild land, with new maps and inclusion directly in the SPP and NPF3.

“This new policy also gives serious consideration to concerns over unconventional oil and gas with five main changes to strengthen planning policy.

“These include new rules on hydraulic fracturing which will compel operators to consult with the public.

“In addition, buffer zones will be established to protect communities and these will be assessed by planning authorities and statutory consultees.

“Any application for coalbed methane or shale gas projects must comply with the appropriate regulatory regimes, including SEPA’s guidance on the regulation of shale gas and coalbed methane.

“I am grateful to the Scottish Parliament and to the many people, communities and organisations who have contributed to the development of our policies, which help to ensure that planning continues to create great places for the people of Scotland for years to come.”

The National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy can be viewed here

NPF nning-Framework


The 14 national developments contained within the new national planning framework are:

1. Ravenscraig

2. Dundee Waterfront

3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Network and Thermal Generation

4. High Voltage Energy Transmission Network

5. Pumped Hydroelectric Storage

6. Central Scotland Green Network

7. Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership

8. National Long Distance Cycling and Walking Network

9. High Speed Rail

10. Strategic Airport Enhancements

11. Grangemouth Investment Zone

12. Freight Handling Capacity on the Forth

13. Aberdeen Harbour

14. National Digital Fibre Network

The five main changes on onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction are:

• Confirmation that the concept of buffer zones should be applied to all proposals for the first time

• Putting in place an additional requirement for risk assessments to be prepared, using a source-pathway-receptor model, to ensure a transparent and evidence-based approach to assessing whether proposed buffer zones are acceptable

• Making explicit that buffer zones will be assessed by the planning authority and statutory consultees, with a strong expectation that planning permission should be refused if they are unacceptable

• Ensuring that operators are upfront about their plans and that communities are consulted on all unconventional gas developments, including close involvement in the risk assessment process

• Requiring a fresh planning application (and public consultation) if permission was not sought for hydraulic fracturing but developers subsequently intend to undertake this process


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