Local planning comes under the spotlight

12/02/08,TSPL, Scotsman,News, Renewable energy, Wind farms, Wind Turbine, Wind power, Electricity.Power,. Sunset over Blacklaw WindFarm, near Forth.  Pic Ian Rutherford'Blacklaw
12/02/08,TSPL, Scotsman,News, Renewable energy, Wind farms, Wind Turbine, Wind power, Electricity.Power,. Sunset over Blacklaw WindFarm, near Forth. Pic Ian Rutherford'Blacklaw

Scottish Borders Council has explained its decision to delay its Local Development Plan responses until September.

The region’s conservationists had welcomed the Local Development Plan (LDP), which had been due to be discussed at Council on Monday, and was described as being “reasonable and wholly justified”.

The Borders Network of Conservation Groups said: “The local plan was sensitive to serious concerns about the spread of wind turbines expressed during public consultations. This is in marked contrast to the national planning framework which, despite generating a huge and very similar public response, shows no recognition of the public’s growing scepticism about the Scottish Government’s over-reliance on wind power to keep the country’s lights on and its increasing electricity bills.

“SBC had reflected justifiable local opinion in its LDP, which has to be ratified by the Government, and which urged a cautious approach to wind farm expansion.

“The local plan had stated that all future planning applications for wind farms be rejected except in exceptional circumstances, buffer zones be introduced near major attractions like castles and abbeys, and that there should be a presumption against building turbines within 2km (1.2 miles) of major tourist routes through the area.”

In a statement, the Network criticised a perceived demoting of the LDP behind the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP):“It appears SBC’s recommendations have been ignored by Holyrood.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The decision to take the proposed LDP responses to the Council meeting in September instead of June was taken some time ago, and was in relation to the management of Council business over this period.

“The Scottish Planning Policy referred to by The Borders Network of Conservation Groups is non-statutory. It states ‘The purpose of the SPP is to set out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for operation of the planning system and development and use of land. The SPP promotes consistency in the application of policy across Scotland whilst allowing sufficient flexibility to reflect local circumstances.’

“Therefore, whilst the SPP will be material in the consideration of planning applications there will be a need to consider the full range of potential impacts in relation to a particular site.

“The LDP is the appropriate document to set out the broad context for the main issues to be considered as part of the development management process.”