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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK
Planning law challenge launched
M74
Objectors could be prevented from blocking major projects like the M74
Campaigners have launched a petition aimed at ensuring the public is given the chance to object to projects like motorways and nuclear power stations.

Environmentalists and community councils said a Scottish Executive White Paper to overhaul planning laws had failed local communities.

They also condemned the new proposals for failing to introduce a "third party right of appeal" for objectors.

The petition aims to persuade MSPs to amend the plans before they become law.

Groups including Scottish Environment LINK and the Association of Scottish Community Councils (ASCC) said the current system was weighted heavily in favour of developers - who could appeal planning permission refusals.

They had called for limited third party appeal to give communities similar redress if a development got the go-ahead.

Public involvement

But this was rejected in the White Paper unveiled by Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm on 29 June.

However, the executive said the proposals would ensure "more fairness, balance and greater involvement" in the planning system.

These included new procedures for involving the public in development plans and applications, and a requirement for planning authorities to give reasons for their decisions.

But the paper caused further unease by proposing that developments deemed to be of "national significance" - such as the M74 extension - could only be challenged on location or detail, but not on need.

Douglas Murray, of the ASCC, which represents 650 community councils, said it wanted stronger powers for communities as well as accountability from local and national government.

The new system would allow people to express their view of a planning proposal but give no real weight to their opinion
Anne McCall
Scottish Environment LINK

"The White Paper does not deliver on either, nor does it allow communities sufficient safeguards on decisions made against their wishes or even where the local authority makes an error," he said.

"The Scottish Parliament has the power to make these changes, and this petition gives notice of our intentions."

Anne McCall, of the LINK coalition, branded the White Paper a "mess".

"The new system would allow people to express their view of a planning proposal but give no real weight to their opinion," she said.

An executive spokesman said ministers had urged people to examine the "package of reforms as a whole" and consider their views on issues such as third party appeal rights in light of the proposals.

He said the overhaul of the planning system aimed to strengthen the participation of local people from the outset.


SEE ALSO:
Planning law measures redrafted
29 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Reaction: Planning law reforms
29 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Fears build over planning reform
03 May 05 |  Scotland
'Block' over planning appeal plan
15 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Call for community appeal rights
21 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Planning shake-up is mapped out
01 Apr 04 |  Scotland


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