We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Planning (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (Day 2)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th June 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is fully committed to ensuring that the planning system contributes to achieving a net zero economy. Although I commend the intentions behind amendments 199 and 221 on renewable energy infrastructure, I cannot support the introduction of provisions that could add complexity and regulatory burden and which cut across the proper consultation and public engagement that is already under way. That engagement includes a review of the energy standards in the Scottish building regulations, and we are considering next steps to further enhance the energy performance of buildings, which will include investigation of the continuing role of renewable technologies to deliver new buildings that have very low energy demand and emissions. It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the outcomes of the review with primary legislation that could not then be changed without a further bill.

Amendments 203 and 220 seek to impose a requirement on ministers to introduce permitted development rights for renewable energy infrastructure for both domestic and non-domestic properties. However, permitted development rights are already in place for the majority of technologies that are listed, and we have previously consulted on others.

Further, the amendments seek to introduce permitted development rights for developments that could fall within the category of major developments, such as a 20 megawatt wind farm. Such permitted development rights would remove public consultation, including pre-application consultation, if they were to be progressed.

We have already committed to consulting on a work programme to expand permitted development rights following this bill, alongside a sustainability appraisal that has been progressed with input from a wide range of stakeholders. We should not pre-empt the outcome of that consultation.

Through energy efficient Scotland, we are putting in place a regulatory framework to make it the norm to invest in improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions from existing buildings. We are also taking steps to strengthen our policy framework for low-carbon heat and will publish a heat decarbonisation policy statement and action plan in summer 2020.

In short, the amendments cut across a wide range of work that is already under way to support renewable energy infrastructure. I ask Ms Beamish not to press them. She can be assured that I will continue to engage with her on the issues, as I have done in the past.