The places we live, work and play in matter hugely to our health, wellbeing and identity. How we get about, whether we breathe clean air, if we can access the services we need, where our energy comes from, how our green spaces thrive and how sociable our communities are: the planning system is crucial in determining so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. It is also crucial to tackling the climate emergency.

But all too often the planning system gets it wrong and bad decision-making leads to the wrong development in the wrong place, exacerbating inequalities, polluting and damaging our environment. A key factor in getting better decision-making, and therefore better outcomes for people and the planet, is meaningful participation with communities at every level of the planning system.

A new Planning Framework for Scotland

Following recent reforms of the planning system (some good changes, some bad, but mostly a major missed opportunity for badly needed reform) the Scottish Government is now starting work on developing what’s called the National Planning Framework. NPF4 for short, 4 because it’s the fourth one we’ve had in Scotland. 

Along with the now delayed Climate Change Plan and the upcoming Energy Strategy review, National Planning Framework 4 is going to be absolutely central to our fight to tackle the climate emergency and build the better world we know is possible. 

As the strategic spatial vision for the next decade, NPF4 has the potential to lock-in dirty fossil fuel developments and business-as-usual or it could pave the way forward for a clean energy powered, re-localised economy, and healthy, thriving communities living in balance with nature. 

That’s why it is so important that we engage with this crucial process at an early stage. This NPF will be looking towards 2050, setting national policies and developments and planning for regional and local spatial priorities. 

Our priorities for NPF4

We know that within this timeframe what the Scottish Government does is absolutely crucial to responding to the climate crisis and is ultimately a huge chance to consider what sort of communities and environment we would like to live in and aim towards in the future. Our key priorities for NPF4 include:

  • All new planning developments must help meet Scotland’s climate targets
  • The climate impact of every planning development must be factored into decision making
  • No new fossil fuel developments should be permitted
  • An enabling framework for deployment of renewable energy solutions to meet 100% of our energy needs
  • Prioritise sustainable travel, particularly public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure
  • Strengthen the Scottish Government’s indefinite moratorium on fracking and unconventional oil and gas
  • Support the move to a circular economy and prevent new incinerators 

How to get involved at this stage

The Scottish Government has issued a “Call For Ideas” with a deadline of 30th April. They will use this to find out what people would like to see, and what they don’t want to see, in the planning framework. It’s an important opportunity for people and communities to put forward their ideas and outline what they would like to see – so make sure you have your say

Read more information on our priorities for NPF4 and resources to help you respond to the Scottish Government’s call for ideas here. 

Thinking of submitting a response as an individual or a group? Join us on Wednesday 22nd from 6-7:30pm to talk through some ideas with other local campaigners. Email activism[@]foe.scot for the link to the call

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Mary Church

Mary Church is Head of Campaigns at FoES.

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