Environmental campaigners have said that while the new National Planning Framework 4 is a step in the right direction in tackling the climate emergency it is seriously undermined by an over reliance on unrealistic techno-fixes.

The updated NPF4 laid in the Scottish Parliament today sets out to prioritise tackling the climate and nature emergency. It gives Councils much needed tools to prioritise sustainable transport, has a greater emphasis on the reduction and reuse of materials and reduces the risk that vast swathes of the country will be opened up for dodgy carbon offsetting schemes.

However, the Scottish Government has failed to rule out new fossil fuel infrastructure in the planning framework which prioritises controversial technologies and so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs) such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen.

The NPF4’s reliance on NETs is in contradiction to the Scottish Government’s own Climate Change Plan monitoring report which states that there has been: “No public commitment to date by a commercial operator to employ a NETs model for a single large power station in Scotland. Given lead in times for development of such a facility and proposals for CCS deployment for the Peterhead CCGT power project, it is unlikely that a new NETs power facility will be developed in the 2020s.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Mary Church said:

“While the emphasis on tackling the climate and nature emergencies is welcome, this is a real missed opportunity by the Scottish Government to rule out any more infrastructure for the fossil fuels that are driving us to extinction. This plan sets out what developments are going to be prioritised over the next decade and it’s absolutely crucial that we transition away from fossil fuels over that same period.

“Despite this, there are some welcome improvements to the planning framework including much needed tools for local councils to prioritise sustainable transport, a greater emphasis on the reduction and reuse of materials, and the reduced risk that vast swathes of the country will be opened up for dodgy carbon offsetting schemes.

“The overall direction of travel is seriously undermined by continued over reliance on so-called negative emissions technologies like carbon capture and costly, inefficient hydrogen. The longer the Scottish Government falls for industry spin and the fantasy that we can solve the climate crisis without ending our use of fossil fuels, the harder it will be to deliver a just transition to a renewable energy economy.

“This plan puts some important policies on the table, but due to the urgency of the climate crisis, the time for half measures has long since passed.”

The new NPF4 is published as world leaders meet in Sharm El-Sheikh for the annual UN climate negotiations. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure was ‘ moral and economic madness’.

Planning for net zero’ National Planning Framework 4 announcement https://www.gov.scot/news/planning-for-net-zero/

UN Climate Report: Urgent action needed this decade

Friends of the Earth Scotland response to the NPF4 Draft

Scottish Government admits ‘gaping hole’ in Climate Plan – June 2022

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.