Masterplan consent areas are a new way in which planning authorities can take a proactive place-making approach and provide consent. Mr Wightman has argued that they should be allowed in national scenic areas. At stage 2, I outlined how we have worked with the relevant agencies and agreed that it would be right to restrict MCAs in international and national designations. I still believe that that is a clear and appropriate approach.
Mr Wightman suggests that MCAs could assist in repopulating NSAs in the islands. However, the island authorities have told us they would not envisage bringing forward MCA schemes for land in such areas. Therefore, I do not support amendment 13.
My amendments 125 and 126 seek to reinstate provisions that were removed at stage 2, which would require planning authorities to notify ministers prior to finalising certain MCA schemes and give ministers associated call-in powers. Those are important safeguards. Members will have seen the key agencies group’s letter highlighting the direct read-across to the equivalent mechanism for notification and call-in of planning applications and how leaving that out for masterplan consent areas would create a significant gap. Removing those provisions removed ministers’ ability to consider calling in schemes where there are unresolved objections from national agencies.
Proposals that key agencies object to frequently also attract significant local interest, with a public expectation that objections from a national agency will trigger a requirement for national level scrutiny. I hope that members will support amendments 125 and 126, to ensure that crucial layer of scrutiny for cases that raise issues of national significance.