Today’s publication of the 10-year National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) is a missed opportunity to futureproof our natural environment in the face of the climate and nature crisis, says Scottish Environment LINK. While the focus of the draft NPF4 on meeting Scotland’s net zero by 2045 target is hugely welcome, its ambition does not go far enough to set out how its policies will deliver the restoration of Scotland’s nature over the next decade.
The NPF4 is a great opportunity for the Scottish Government to show leadership by working with communities of interest and place to restore nature and limit the damage from climate change. LINK members have called for the NPF4 to include policies that support a national Nature Network, connecting fragmented habitats across Scotland to allow wildlife to thrive, as well as policies to ban the sale of peat compost and ensure protections for areas of wild land and greenbelts are strengthened. However, the Framework set out today does not make clear how it will deliver the transformative change required at this critical juncture.
Clare Symonds, Convener of LINK’s Planning Group, responded:
“At a time of nature and climate emergency, today’s draft National Planning Framework lacks crucial detail on how nature-positive and low emissions developments will be supported by Scotland’s planning system. Scotland’s environmental charities have called for the NPF4 to deliver a transformation in how we develop our towns, cities and rural areas to adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to nature’s restoration in the years ahead. Considering the scale of the climate and biodiversity emergencies we face, this is a disappointingly unambitious document.”
Charles Nathan, Vice-Convener of the Planning Group, noted,
“We’ve consistently highlighted that action on climate must also include action on nature and so welcome the fact that Scottish Government has fully recognised in this draft both the scale of the nature crisis and most importantly that planning can play a huge part in bringing nature back into our lives. However, we have a task ahead of us now to strengthen the ‘teeth’ of the document so we don’t fall back into a ‘business as usual’ approach that is failing to protect the natural world that we are all dependent upon. We are hopeful that this can be avoided by changing the ‘shoulds’ to ‘musts’ and having an NPF4 that emboldens decision-makers to make net-zero and nature positive decisions.’
 See LINK’s priorities for NPF4: https://www.scotlink.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/NPF4_TopPriorities_V3.pdf