Scottish Government spends £18m on local planning appeals

The Scottish Government say the appeals process is a “a long-standing and vital element” of the planning system.

Scottish Government accused of ‘arrogance’ by Conservatives after £18m spent on planning appeals iStock

The Scottish Government have spent nearly £18m on council planning decision appeals since 2017.

During the same period, ministers overturned 389 decisions out of 837 (46%).

In light of the findings, obtained through Freedom of Information Request by the Scottish Conservatives, shadow local government secretary Miles Briggs has accused SNP ministers of “arrogantly overruling local decisions” and of wasting taxpayers’ money.

However, the Scottish Government say the appeals process is a “a long-standing and vital element” of the planning system, with the majority decided through an independent reporter.

It comes as Briggs, MSP for Lothian, is plans to bring forward a Local Government Powers and Protection Bill which his party say will protect against “centralised” decision making.

He said: “This is not just clear evidence of an SNP power grab on our local authorities, but of precious public money being squandered needlessly.

“It is unacceptable that more than half of decisions made by local authorities in the last year were then overturned by the Scottish Government, and that taxpayers are having to foot the bill for their authoritarian and centralising instincts. 

“The SNP is ignoring the views of local communities by arrogantly overruling decisions made by councils. Out-of-touch ministers in Edinburgh clearly think that they are better equipped to make these decisions than those who live and work in the local communities affected.  

“Not content with stripping powers away from local councils and making savage cuts to their budgets, the SNP is now overruling them on the things they still control. And they’ve wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to frustrate and reverse democratic decisions made at a local level.”

In response to the comments, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Planning appeals are a long-standing and vital element of the planning system in Scotland and across the UK.

“For context, during the last financial year, a total of 172 planning appeal decisions in Scotland were made by reporters. In contrast, approximately 27,000 planning applications are decided each year by Scotland’s local planning authorities, of which around 94.5% are granted.

“The vast majority of planning appeals that come to Scottish ministers are decided by an independent reporter who is required to take into account local views and make the decision on the planning merits of the case in accordance with the local development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”

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