Planning applications will have to show how they help meet Scotland’s net zero targets to get approval under new proposals


Planning applications will have to show how they help meet Scotland’s targets to cut emissions to net zero by 2045 to get approval under new proposals, the Scottish Government has announced.

The Framework is set to support developments which contribute to nature restoration, drive population growth in rural Scotland, create more homes to meet local needs and encourage green investment.

According to the Scottish Government, proposals for renewable energy, including increasing the power of existing wind farms, will be supported by planners – helping make Scotland an energy exporter.

Planning Minister Tom Arthur commented on the announcement: “As COP26 delegates debate the future of our planet, we are proudly publishing our new draft National Planning Framework that proposes planners will have to consider the impact of applications on climate change and our natural environment.

“This plan for Scotland in 2045 aims to transform places so more of us live in well-designed and energy efficient homes, located within walking distance of local services and green space, and puts planning at the heart of delivering green, inclusive and long‑term sustainable development.

“This is a turning point for planning in Scotland. Our proposals will help us achieve our just transition to net zero emissions by helping to deliver more renewable energy, protecting our natural environment and creating better, healthier places to live.”

It proposes 18 national developments, including:

  • a national walking, wheeling and cycling network promoting active travel
  • mass and rapid transit networks for cities to ‘significantly’ reduce congestion and reliance on the car
  • sustainable drainage and water management solutions to protect cities from future flood risk
  • master planned regeneration and investment along the Clyde and waterfronts in Dundee, Edinburgh and Stranraer
  • supporting transition of key industrial sites to net zero as well as helping to sustain rural and island communities in transitioning to a net zero society
  • pumped hydroelectric storage, large scale renewable energy generation and investment in the electricity grid.

More information about the ‘Draft National Planning Framework 4’-consultation, which closes on 31 March 2022, is available on the Scottish Government website.