Call on your MSP to back Equal Rights of Appeal in Planning

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Your MSPs to Back Equal Rights of Appeal

Support our campaign to establish a level playing field for communities and developers by calling on your MSP to back Equal Rights of Appeal in Planning.

We have contacted Derek MacKay, the Minister for Local Government and Planning, imploring him to support Equal Rights of Appeal (ERA) in Scottish Planning.

Currently in Scotland if planning permission is refused, the developer is always permitted to appeal. If however, planning permission is granted the local communities, who’s lives are affected by the development, are never allowed to appeal – no matter how strong their case.

Currently Mr MacKay’s position, in line with the Scottish Government, is that ERA is not necessary in Scotland. Supposedly the planning system reforms from 2006 ensure that there is ample opportunity for public involvement in planning decisions. Further, they are concerned ERA may slow down development (and by extension, economic growth).

We disagree. Our research has shown time and time again (and again) that communities in Scotland are not able to get involved in the planning system in a meaningful way, and it is far too easy for developers to ignore the opinions of the very people who’s lives are irrevocably affected by their developments.

We believe a limited right of appeal (something the SNP supported pre-2007) would address this imbalance, giving communities a level playing field in planning disputes and providing incentive for developers to take local opinion seriously, without causing unnecessary delays.

If you agree with us that people most affected by development, should have the right to appeal when the rules are broken, then you can help. You could a) call on your MSP to support our petition to the Scottish Parliament and b) call on your MSP to push for ERA to be included in their manifesto for the 2016 parliamentary elections.

It will take a lot of work for the Scottish Government to change their approach, but if enough of us get behind ERA, we can help convince them. You can use the sample letter below, or you can write your own if you have something in particular that you would like to say – either way, the more letters they get, and the more MSPs that receive them, the harder it will be for them to ignore!

It only takes a couple of minutes, you can contact your MSP(s) through this website all you need to do is put in your postcode, it’s dead easy – we at Planning Democracy, and local communities all across the country, will be very grateful.

For a matter like this it is appropriate to write to all of your MSPs if you wish.

Also be aware the website will ask you to confirm that you want to send the email – just so you know!

Draft Letter:

I am contacting you today as one of your constituents for two reasons.

1. To support Planning Democracy’s campaign for Equal Rights of Appeal in planning (ERA), and their recent submission to Holyrood’s petitions committee; and

2. To urge you to back ERA by: writing to the Minister for Local Government and Planning and expressing your support of ERA on my behalf; and by pushing for ERA’s inclusion in your party’s manifesto in advance of the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Over the last two years the population of Scotland has gone through a remarkable process of political engagement. The number of people taking part in the democratic process across the country is a real success for both sides of the campaign.

However there are undeniable weaknesses in Scotland’s democratic system. Scotland has the largest local authorities in the EU and decision making is too removed from people’s lives. In planning the opportunities for the public to influence decisions that affect their lives are often extremely limited.

As Planning Democracy argue: “At present there is only a very weak link between public input and decision-making. There is little incentive for developers or local planning authorities to respond to issues raised by the wider public as there is no effective mechanism for holding them to account if they do not.”

There is an alarming imbalance within Scottish Planning regarding who has the right to appeal planning decisions: Developers always have the right to appeal the refusal of planning permissions, while local communities never have the right to appeal – no matter how strong their case.

The reforms the planning system underwent little under a decade ago were supposed to restore public confidence and trust in the planning system, without requiring ERA. I believe there is considerable evidence that these reforms have failed, from Falkirk to Shetland and from Edinburgh to Dumfriesshire, as entire community councils resign due to the inequalities of the planning system and community groups grow frustrated in their attempts to have their input counted as relevant.

I ask you to support Planning Democracy’s proposal for a limited Equal Right of Appeal in Scottish Planning, and – like governments in Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand have done already – establish a more level playing field between developers and local communities.

ERA will improve decision making throughout the entire planning process by:

* Incentivising developers to genuine community consultation – at present it is to easy for large developers to ignore the concerns of local communities, no matter how genuine those concerns are.

* Encouraging planning authorities to consider both the arguments for and against development with equal weight.

* Encouraging a plan-led system – local communities are more likely to get more actively engaged in the earlier stages of planning, such as consultations on the National Planning Framework and Local Development Plans, when they have the confidence that there is no longer the option to deviate from the development plan without consequence.

Establishing ERA would be a major step towards building a better, more democratic Scotland, where people are empowered to influence decisions that affect their lives.

Please support Planning Democracy’s petition, please write to Derek MacKay to support ERA, and please push for ERA to be included in your 2016 manifesto.

Thank you.


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