Scottish Green MSPs have voted to reject the Planning Bill after the SNP and Conservatives joined forces to drive through weak, centralising reforms.
The Greens said the SNP had reneged on promises of cross-party cooperation and undone progress made when the Bill was considered at Stage 2. That included reintroducing, with Tory support, centralising measures which had previously been rejected. Greens voted to keep the Bill alive at Stage 1 only on the basis that substantial amendment was needed to improve it.
Despite securing wins on air pollution, forestry, public toilets and water refill points, the Greens’ communities spokesperson Andy Wightman said that overall the lacklustre Bill would hand too much power to Ministers, keep local communities frozen out, and carry on serving the interests of corporations, property speculators and wealthy landowners.
Green amendments for consistent control of short term lets, to require consent for scarring hill tracks, and to give communities an equal right of appeal were voted down by SNP and Conservative MSPs.
Andy Wightman MSP said:
“This SNP-Tory stitch-up is a real blow for local communities who will be left largely powerless against a planning system that’s more centralised than ever and will continue to serve property speculators, landowners and big business first.
“This Bill should have been a chance for change, so that developments which are clearly contrary to communities’ interests, like the rampant spread of short-term lets, scarring hill tracks and unwanted speculative developments could be properly challenged, leading to a fairer system all round.
“The SNP had a clear choice. They could have held to the spirit of cross-party working which saw a lacklustre Bill strengthened at stage 2, but instead they decided to stitch the whole thing up for Tory votes. While we pushed hard and secured some positives, overall it’s deeply disappointing that the final outcome is a new era of SNP centralisation, leaving communities well and truly frozen out. Our local communities and all those who care about their local environments deserve so much better”