North MSP tables Parliamentary Questions on Windfarm Referendum

7 June 2007

Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP Peter Peacock has tabled a series of parliamentary questions on how the SNP Executive plan to use community referenda in the planning process.

The questions follow the SNP `spinning’ the use of a referenda in relation to the Lewis windfarm application.

Mr Peacock said," I have tabled a series of detailed questions on the use of referenda in the planning system, to clarify the situation with the Scottish Executive.

"I want to be clear whether the executive can give weight to any referendum in determining a planning application.

"The SNP seemed to make great play of the potential for a local referendum to veto the windfarm proposal, it is now time to see whether this was just election spin, or has any substance.

"Throughout the election campaign and in the months leading up to it, it seemed to me that what Alasdair Allan was promising, or at least implying, was not possible under planning law. "

"The questions I have put down asks the Scottish Executive, whether current planning law permits planning applications to be determined by the outcome of a referendum of a local population and if Scottish Ministers, or local authority councillors acting as a planning authority, can delegate their powers and duties to make planning decisions to other parties or individuals who are not Scottish ministers or local authority councillors

"Other questions cover issues such as the delegation of planning powers and the possibility of a determination coming from a referendum result.

"I have also asked if the Scottish Executive intends to amend planning law to allow local referenda to determine planning applications, something I don’t seem to remember them doing when the new Planning Act was approved by Parliament just a few months ago."

Mr Peacock added, "These questions are designed to establish clearly whether the SNP have simply been spinning, or making a serious proposal which can be delivered in law. I look forward to receiving the executive’s answers."


The Parliamentary Questions are :

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether current planning law permits planning applications to be determined by the outcome of a referendum of a local population.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Scottish Ministers, or local authority councillors acting as a planning authority, can delegate their powers and duties to make planning decisions to other parties or individuals who are not Scottish ministers or local authority councillors.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Scottish Ministers, or local authority councillors acting as a planning authority, can delegate their powers and duties to make planning decisions to the people of a local community through a referendum.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Scottish Ministers or local authority councillors could be directed to a determination of a planning application by the outcome of a local referendum.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to amend planning law to allow local referenda to determine planning applications and, if so, in what circumstances and for which type of application; what distinguishes one type of planning application from any other for the purpose of a local referendum being invoked; what the status would be of professional advice and recommendations on any application by local authority or Executive officials; how any such changes will affect the rights of applicants to have their applications considered in terms of planning law; whether appeals against a decision by a local referendum could be made and to whom; who would be responsible in law for any such planning decision, and how the geographic boundaries of any area to have such a referendum would be determined.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive what the status is of any petition which is submitted to planning officials, local authority councillors or the Scottish Ministers in favour of or opposed to any planning application when a planning application is being considered.

Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that the impact of any proposal to allow local referenda to determine certain types of planning applications would have any implications for human rights in relation to the rights of individuals who could not participate in referenda for the applications to which they objected.

7 June 2007

 

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