Scotland’s environment community urge Scottish Government to take a transformative approach to planning

22 Feb 2021

Scotland’s new National Planning Framework (NPF4) needs to take us to net-zero and support nature’s recovery – but transformative change is lacking in the Scottish Government’s Position Statement


Scottish Environment LINK members are calling on the Scottish Government to develop a NPF4 that truly delivers the transformative change needed for Scotland to secure its role as a global-north climate leader ahead of COP26 in Glasgow and successfully contribute to a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.


LINK members have submitted a response to the Scottish Government’s Interim Consultation on the NPF4 Position Statement. The environment organisations welcome many of the positive signals in the Statement. However, the organisations are asking that these are accompanied by measures to ensure that the Plan can enable sustainable development and prevent those developments which are not consistent with the Government’s Climate Change Plan and aspirations for the next Biodiversity Strategy. We need a binding framework to address the twin challenges of nature loss and climate change and cannot rely on piecemeal amendments to business as usual.


The NPF4 will take Scotland through to 2050. As such, Scottish Environment LINK members are conscious that it needs to deliver on Scotland’s ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 as well as supporting nature’s recovery by reversing biodiversity declines. When COP26 comes to Glasgow in November, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as host destination and its action on climate and nature will be under scrutiny. The NPF4 will lay foundational building blocks in Scotland’s efforts towards tackling the twin crisis of nature loss and climate change; Scotland’s leading environment organizations believe it needs much greater ambition if it is to build on Scotland emission reduction targets and enable developments that deliver positive outcomes for nature. The LINK response to the consultation stress that ecosystem and biodiversity values must be incorporated into the planning system. In a year where the world is coming together to agree on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, Scotland needs to significantly strengthen its environmental policies if it is to secure its role as a global-north leader.


Convener of the Scottish Environment LINK Planning Group, Clare Symonds, said:

“The Scottish Environment LINK community, which represent 40 of Scotland’s leading environmental organisations, have worked together to provide a comprehensive response to the Government’s consultation. We do this because we collectively recognise that this is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to miss. The NPF4 is an influential and wide-ranging plan, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to a better, greener Scotland. The Government has ambitious intentions, however unless there are fundamental changes to the way we approach planning, prioritise nature and limit developments which impact negatively on our planet, we will not achieve the necessary changes to overcome the serious challenges of the climate and nature emergencies.”


Bruce Wilson, Natural Capital Projects Manager at Scottish Wildlife trust, said:

“We are in a climate and nature crisis, and for the NPF4 to meet the scale of the challenge it must commit to applying a strategic approach to delivering nature-based solutions. Adoption of a Scottish Nature Network is the way to do this and holistically tackling the intertwined nature and climate crisis. This will deliver a whole host of other positive outcomes for our society and economy”.


Diarmid Hearns, Head of Public Policy at the National Trust for Scotland, said:

“The new National Planning Framework will determine what kind of Scotland we live in. We would like to see an ambitious framework that conserves our natural and cultural heritage, that supports the enjoyment of our heritage by residents and visitors, and that moves us to being environmentally sustainable. This opportunity will only come once, and we need to make the most of it.”

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