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Scottish Government could relax planning for some rural development

By Federica Stefani

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The Scottish Government is considering a radical shape-up of part of the planning system to help rural areas.

Ministers believe the move will help to tackle depopulation and foster local economies.

The need for planning permission could be lifted for certain types of rural development.

These could include small scale developments such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in rural areas and the development of larger operational farm buildings including sheds and polytunnels.

Removal of planning permission for developments that help address climate change is also being considered.

Farming and food and drink industries straddle the farm gate.
Farming and food and drink industries straddle the farm gate.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland’s rural areas are a major source of growth, with environmental quality that underpins key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, energy and the creative industries.

"That’s why tackling depopulation and supporting the sustainability our rural communities is so important.

“I believe these reforms will help support work aimed at increasing the rural population, will support succession planning for farmers and will provide an opportunity for the planning system to positively contribute to the long-term sustainability of rural businesses and communities.”

The moves comes as the Scottish Government is considering options to expand Permitted Development Rights, which remove the need to apply for planning permission, within its Sustainability Appraisal, which sets out the likely significant environmental, social and economic effects of options for change across 16 development types.

Permitted Development Rights typically relate to minor or uncontroversial developments where planning permission would likely be granted.

The report is currently under consultation and was informed by the views of a Virtual Review Group of key stakeholders such as Scottish Environment Link, National Farmers Union Scotland and telecommunications providers.

The 2019-20 programme ‘Protecting Scotland’s Future’ highlights the importance of planning within the fight to climate change by accelerating reduction of emissions and seeking to sustain and support communities, and in resisting the impacts of Brexit.

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