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Green Space

– in the Scottish Parliament on 29th January 2020.

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Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

2. I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests. I am a committee member of Fields in Trust Scotland.

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to record the loss of green space in Scotland. (S5O-04062)

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government contributes to the funding of the Ordnance Survey, which maintains the green space map that is updated every six months. We also funded the “Third State of Scotland’s Greenspace Report”, which provides data on the amount and types of green space, as well as a baseline for measuring change in urban Scotland.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The Scottish National Party previously announced a moratorium on the sale of playing fields, but instead there appears to have been a moratorium on the report that helped us understand a little about what was being lost. Will the minister confirm why the publication of the annual report entitled “Planning applications affecting playing fields” ceased? Will he commit to publishing an annual update that is more specific than the examples that he has previously given?

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I do not have that information to hand. I am unaware of the document that Ms Johnstone refers to, but I am more than willing to write to her on that.

In general, the Government’s national planning framework 3 aims to significantly enhance green infrastructure networks, particularly in and around our cities and towns. We designate the central Scotland green network as a national development. It is Europe’s largest green space project and stretches across the central belt.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

In light of the climate emergency, does the minister agree that it would be entirely wrong for councils to give the go-ahead to large scale developments on green belt land?

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

Those matters are for local authorities. We all have to look at the climate emergency in how we develop policy for the future. As Mr Simpson is aware, the new Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 makes it a statutory duty for planning authorities to prepare open space strategies, including an audit of existing open space provision. Open space should be part of all local development plans and regional spatial strategies. My expectation is that local authorities use their logic and local knowledge to get the approach right and ensure that we do all that we can to combat the climate emergency.