Planning law must include an equal right of appeal

Maggie Chapman, Scottish Green MSP for North East Scotland, is calling for reforms to planning law to include an equal right of appeal for communities.

Campaigners locked in David v Goliath style planning battles against big developers must have the same rights of appeal over decisions as those forcing through controversial applications, say the Scottish Greens

The Scottish Greens previously moved to enshrine an equal right of appeal for communities in the Planning (Scotland) Act in 2018 but were blocked.
Citing the successful campaign and court action to save Slochy Woods, in Moray, from a luxury seven-house development, Maggie Chapman MSP has highlighted the lack of parity within the planning system and unequal access to environmental justice.

Ms Chapman said: “Our planning system should reflect the needs of our communities and provide a democratic decision-making process for how land is allocated to different uses.

“The campaigns to save Slochy Woods, St Fittick’s Park, Loch Lomond and Coul Links have generated real public engagement but also highlighted the dysfunction within the planning system.

“Those who must live with the consequences of planning decisions must have an equal right to appeal.  The system we currently have lacks parity of power and entrenches injustice.

“Powerful developers have several avenues to appeal planning decisions, but communities do not.”

The Save Slochy Woodlands Campaign Group was vindicated after the Court of Session ruled that the Moray Local Review Body decision to controversially overturn an earlier refusal of planning permission must be quashed.

Ms Chapman added: “This was a David versus Goliath case, and it showed just how unequal our planning system is.

“Were it not for the actions of campaigners and Grampian Community Law Centre's Climate Clinic, Slochy Woods would have been destroyed. 

“Communities should not have to resort to costly court action to have their voice heard. An equal right of appeal must be considered at the earliest opportunity.”