Local Green MSP Ross Greer has called on other politicians representing Renfrewshire to back a move to give communities equal right to appeal planning decisions, a power currently only held by developers. The new Planning (Scotland) Bill, which is intended to reform the way planning applications are dealt with, recently passed through the Local Government and Communities Committee at Holyrood.
An attempt to introduce an Equal Right of Appeal (ERoA) was rejected by 3 SNP votes to 2 (Green and Labour), with Conservative MSPs abstaining. Had it passed, this would have introduced into the bill the principle that developers and objectors should have an equal opportunity to appeal against decisions which don’t go their way.
The Bill will now come before the whole Parliament early next year for its final stage, and it’s expected that the ERoA proposal will be voted on again, this time by all MSPs.
Ross Greer, who has been campaigning for an Equal Right of Appeal, has called on Renfrewshire residents to make their views known to all of their MSPs. He said: “We can still win equal right of appeal for our communities and finally level the playing field in planning decisions but only if we can secure the support of more MSPs. Right now, the appeal system is unfairly weighted in favour of developers who can apply and appeal until they get their own way – even if there are thousands of objections from residents and if elected councillors have rejected the plan. Yet if a community are overwhelmingly opposed they do not have the same right.
“The Greens are reaching out to every other party in the parliament to secure support for this reform. We know that Labour will join us but the West of Scotland’s Conservative and SNP MSPs need their constituents telling them loud and clear that communities want to be treated fairly in the planning process.
“I am ready to support any resident who wishes to do this but time is running out. Together, we need to persuade my colleagues over the coming weeks that it’s time a planning process overwhelmingly in the developer’s favour must end.”