After section 36

Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:19 pm on 13th May 2009.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 3:19 pm, 13th May 2009

We now come to group 10. Amendment 13, in the name of Karen Gillon, is grouped with amendment 14.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

Like the amendments that the Parliament has just agreed to, amendments 13 and 14 seek to give effect to unanimous recommendations made by the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee in its flooding report; indeed, at the time, the minister was the convener of the committee.

The committee has had long and, at times, heated discussions on the importance of there being clear and impartial advice and evidence before any planning permission is granted for a development about which there is concern that the risk of flooding may be increased either at the site of the development itself or downstream.

It was made clear during evidence taking that pressure is always brought to bear on planning authorities by many different parties when there is evidence that a development that is seen to bring perceived economic benefit may increase the risk of flooding either at the site or further down the river's catchment area.

The committee recommended that the Scottish Government ensures that a full flood risk assessment is a prerequisite for the granting of planning permission for individual developments in areas that are at risk of flooding. [Interruption.]

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Order. I am sorry, Ms Gillon, but there are far too many conversations taking place in the chamber. I ask members to concentrate on business.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

When asked whether there was any merit in having a statutory requirement for a flood risk assessment and for finding and developing a solution to manage any flood risk before an individual development is given consent, SEPA responded positively. Even Homes for Scotland expressed concern about ambiguity in interpretation and evident loopholes and recommended that the policy be reviewed.

The committee was very clear that a statutory requirement was needed to ensure that the planning system was clear and transparent: sufficient evidence must be available to prove—or sufficient time must be taken to ensure—that mitigation will be done and works will be carried out before planning permission is granted. The evidence to the committee was that it was very difficult to get that work undertaken once planning permission had been granted.

I hope that Parliament will see that these measures are positive, that they will aid the process and that they will ensure that we do not take short-term decisions that will, in the end, have long-term impacts and lead to unnecessary flooding. I ask the chamber to support the two amendments in my name.

I move amendment 13.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

Amendments 13 and 14 appear to replicate existing duties that are already in planning legislation. Amendment 13 would require a flood risk assessment to be prepared where a development could increase the risk of properties being flooded. Amendment 14 would require planning authorities to have regard to that flood risk assessment when determining the application for planning permission.

Where flood risk is an issue, planning authorities already have a statutory duty to consult SEPA on planning applications. In commenting on an application, SEPA may advise that an assessment of flood risk should be prepared, and the planning authority has the power to require applicants to submit such an assessment.

In determining whether a flood risk assessment is necessary, SEPA will consult its flood risk experts, and both SEPA and the planning authority will consult SEPA's indicative flood maps. The authority must also consider SEPA's comments in response to an assessment before determining the application. That requirement arises from regulation 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2008, which prevents a planning authority from determining a planning application until it has given consultees such as SEPA time to respond.

Further, if a planning authority proposes, contrary to SEPA's advice, to grant permission, the case must be notified to Scottish ministers, who may decide to call in the application. That approach allows the planning authority and SEPA to exercise judgment on the risk posed by the proposal, before requiring the applicant to pay for an expensive consultant's study. The need for a flood risk assessment is therefore something that planning authorities, with advice from SEPA, are best placed to decide. On that basis, I ask Karen Gillon to withdraw amendment 13 and not to move amendment 14.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

I thank the minister for her explanation. However, she was clearly not convinced by that explanation when she was a member of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, which produced the recommendations. Without wanting to delve into too many difficult issues and without mentioning the "A" word in too much detail, the experience of the Parliament this session is that current planning procedures are not sufficiently robust. I therefore urge the Parliament, in the best interests of the society in which we live, to ensure that amendments 13 and 14 go through and that undue influence is not placed on SEPA or anyone else in the future.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I am curious about whether the member is going to make an allegation of undue influence in a specific case. If she is, I can say that there has been absolutely no proof whatsoever that any undue influence has been exerted in any planning case.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

I am not suggesting that; I am suggesting that we want to ensure that undue influence cannot be brought to bear. Indeed, in evidence to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, SEPA said that it would find the proposed mechanism helpful. If SEPA is asking for it and if the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, of which the minister was the convener, unanimously recommended it, I can see no good reason for the Parliament not to support amendments 13 and 14. I will press my amendments.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Before I put the question on amendment 13, I remind members who might have come into the chamber late that, if they wish to take part in discussions on groupings, they should press their request-to-speak buttons when the grouping is announced. I think that one or two members were disappointed that they did not get to speak on this grouping.

The question is, that amendment 13 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 2

For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Margaret, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Foulkes, George, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Gordon, Charlie, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Hume, Jim, Jamieson, Cathy, Kelly, James, Kerr, Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, McArthur, Liam, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McInnes, Alison, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, Mulligan, Mary, Murray, Elaine, O'Donnell, Hugh, Oldfather, Irene, Park, John, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stewart, David, Tolson, Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Allan, Alasdair, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Gavin, Brownlee, Derek, Campbell, Aileen, Coffey, Willie, Constance, Angela, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Don, Nigel, Doris, Bob, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, FitzPatrick, Joe, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Kenneth, Gibson, Rob, Grahame, Christine, Harvie, Christopher, Hepburn, Jamie, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kidd, Bill, Lamont, John, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McMillan, Stuart, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Gil, Robison, Shona, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Smith, Elizabeth, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stevenson, Stewart, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 56, Against 55, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 13 agreed to.

Amendment 14 moved—[Karen Gillon].

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that amendment 14 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 3

For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Margaret, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Foulkes, George, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Gordon, Charlie, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Hume, Jim, Jamieson, Cathy, Kelly, James, Kerr, Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, McArthur, Liam, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McInnes, Alison, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, Mulligan, Mary, Murray, Elaine, O'Donnell, Hugh, Oldfather, Irene, Park, John, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stewart, David, Tolson, Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Allan, Alasdair, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Gavin, Brownlee, Derek, Campbell, Aileen, Coffey, Willie, Constance, Angela, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Don, Nigel, Doris, Bob, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, FitzPatrick, Joe, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Kenneth, Gibson, Rob, Grahame, Christine, Harvie, Christopher, Hepburn, Jamie, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kidd, Bill, Lamont, John, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McMillan, Stuart, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Gil, Robison, Shona, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Smith, Elizabeth, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stevenson, Stewart, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 56, Against 56, Abstentions 0.

I have to use my casting vote. In line with convention, I vote against the amendment.

Amendment 14 disagreed to.