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

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

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Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

As I have consistently made clear, we as the Government are interested in the concept of land value capture or sharing and we will explore how land value uplifts can effectively be captured to fund infrastructure. That is why the Government asked the Scottish Land Commission to investigate the issue and why I welcomed the report that it published in May. However, I believe that the provisions that were added to the bill at stage 2 were premature and that they risk breaching the European convention on human rights. I therefore welcome amendment 112, which removes from the bill proposed new section 54CA of the 1997 act.

Although I recognise the intention behind Alex Rowley’s proposals, I cannot support them. Changes to compulsory purchase should be made through primary legislation, and it is unrealistic to reform such a complex area of law in such a short timescale. The issue deserves careful examination and consultation, including on how proposals would interact with other mechanisms such as planning agreements and the proposed infrastructure levy.

We will therefore work with the Scottish Land Commission, the Scottish Futures Trust, local authorities and industry representatives to identify how local authorities can best use existing mechanisms to fund infrastructure and what support they may need to do so. We will also look at how new mechanisms such as the levy and land pooling might complement existing mechanisms, and hence whether any changes are required to existing legislation and, crucially, how we can ensure that any changes are fully compliant with the ECHR.

I refer members to the issues around this, including the Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845, which is, I am told, not going to be particularly easy to unpick if we are to get to ECHR compliance.

I have said constantly, and I will not move from this, that if legislative change is needed, we will pursue that. It may take time, and it may be in the next session of Parliament, but we will outline how we intend to move forward after the bill has been passed, as has been said. We will, of course, work with colleagues across the Parliament, because, like Mr Simpson, I think that there is, in the main, cross-party support on these issues.