Scottish Government overturns ‘more than half’ of planning decisions

Scottish GovernmentThe Scottish Government overrules local authorities more often than not when applicants take their planning permission appeals to ministers, according to new figures.

Statistics compiled by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) have revealed that 77 of the 145 planning appeals so far this year have been allowed, despite councils originally rejecting the submissions.

That means applicants who refuse to accept the decision of councillors have been sided with on 53 per cent of occasions by ministers, compared to 41 per cent when the SNP came to power in 2007 and 32 per cent in 1999.

Among the decisions appealed to ministers include windfarms, mobile phone masts and housing developments.

In 2014, 56 per cent of planning decisions brought to the Scottish Government were overturned, which was itself a 13 per cent jump from the previous year.

In some local authorities the success rate for those who disagree with the council planners is even higher.

In the first half of this year, 19 of the 33 appeals in Aberdeenshire went ahead – a 58 per cent success rate – while in South Ayrshire it was 75 per cent and in South Lanarkshire 71 per cent.

The Scottish Conservatives said the figures are proof of the SNP’s centralising agenda, and its culture of distrust towards local decision making.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “These figures show quite simply that the SNP does not trust local people and local councils to make decisions for themselves.

“It would rather ministers sitting in Edinburgh offices dictated to rural Scotland what it should and should not permit in towns, villages and communities.

“When decisions made by councils are taken above their heads, they are now being overruled more than 50 per cent of the time, and it’s getting worse.

“The message this sends out is, however unpopular or contentious the planning application, don’t worry if the councils says no, we’ll sort it out for you at Scottish Government level.

“But people want local authorities to have more control on these issues, not less.

“It’s completely unacceptable for the SNP to pursue this centralising mentality.

“It’s no wonder rural Scotland is becoming increasingly annoyed at what it sees as a central belt bias, and it’s time for the Scottish Government to stop hoovering up powers and hand back control to local communities.”

Below is the number of planning appeals granted by the Scottish Government since 1999. A full geographical breakdown can be found here.

1999: 680 appeals, 218 allowed (32 per cent)

2000: 580 appeals, 193 allowed (33 per cent)

2001: 594 appeals, 217 allowed (37 per cent)

2002: 674 appeals, 231 allowed (34 per cent)

2003: 692 appeals, 242 allowed (35 per cent)

2004: 755 appeals, 284 allowed (38 per cent)

2005: 926 appeals, 346 allowed (37 per cent)

2006: 947 appeals, 380 allowed (40 per cent)

2007: 1001 appeals, 414 allowed (41 per cent)

2008: 1061 appeals, 372 allowed (35 per cent)

2009: 976 appeals, 339 allowed (35 per cent)

2010: 384 appeals, 159 allowed (41 per cent)

2011: 213 appeals, 100 allowed (47 per cent)

2012: 278 appeals, 128 allowed (46 per cent)

2013: 279 appeals, 121 allowed (43 per cent)

2014: 232 appeals, 131 allowed (56 per cent)

2015 (to mid-July): 145 appeals, 77 allowed (53 per cent)

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