Welcome to the February 2022 edition

Welcome to our new members!
A very warm welcome to all our new members who have joined APRS in the last few months, many via our new online donation pages. We greatly appreciate every single donation, membership and supportive action taken for the work we do, so a huge thank you from the whole APRS team.

Draft National Planning Framework 4
In January we responded to the Scottish Parliament Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee’s call for evidence on draft NPF4. The Scottish Government consultation continues until 31 March; details on how to respond are on our website. You can watch John Mayhew give a rapid overview of NPF4 to Planning Democracy here. This was discussed at our recent webinar in January and our new Advice Note puts it in context. It is important to indicate which policies you support as well as any amendments needed, as others will lobby for changes. For example, Homes for Scotland asked the Committee to remove Policy 30c, which supports developing brownfield sites before greenfield ones, whereas we want Policy 30c retained.

 

Green Belts – Local Development Plan Updates
Of the 22 Local Development Plans (LDPs) with Green Belts, 14 could be more than five years old by end 2022. Hopefully NPF4 will be approved by then, which should remove the loophole on housing land supply and out of date plans. Until then, we expect developers to continue to push speculative applications and appeals on this basis. These 14 LDPs are: Aberdeen City; Aberdeenshire (Apr 2017); Argyll & Bute; Clackmannanshire; East Dunbartonshire (Feb 2017); East Renfrewshire; Edinburgh; Fife (Sep 2017); Glasgow (Mar 2017); Inverclyde (2019 but housing chapter quashed); Midlothian (Nov 2017); North Lanarkshire; South Ayrshire; West Dunbartonshire. Of these, seven replacement LDPs are at Examination Stage, three of which may be adopted soon. Edinburgh and Inverclyde are at Proposed Plan stage. West Dunbartonshire Council decided not to adopt their LDP after the Examiner added a controversial Green Belt housing allocation, but regrettably lost an appeal to the Court of Session over this in October.

Local Development Plan Regulations and Guidance
Most other Local Authorities are waiting until new LDP regulations and guidance are in place before reviewing their LDPs. The Scottish Government is consulting on this until 31 March, alongside the NPF4 consultation, so it will be many months before it is finalised. The draft guidance is here. All LDPs will have to be reviewed within five years of NPF4 being adopted, so we are likely to see many ‘Calls for Ideas’ and ‘Evidence Reports’ (replacing the current Calls for Sites and Main Issues Reports) in 2023/24.

Scotland’s Deposit Return System Delayed Yet Again
On 14 December Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater announced that Scotland’s deposit return system will be delayed yet again, this time until August 2023. We worked hard to prevent this, including briefing all backbench MSPs, and BBC Radio Scotland interviewed APRS Director John Mayhew that morning. Our press comment in response appeared in the Daily Record, the Guardian and the Independent. This is deeply disappointing for all who have worked so hard on this high-profile APRS campaign over the last seven years. It is particularly ironic that the Scottish Government’s first major environmental announcement since COP26 was about delay rather than delivery.

 

New National Parks for Scotland – Next Steps
In January we issued a public statement New National Parks for Scotland – Next Steps setting out our proposals for the next steps the Scottish Government should take following its August 2021 commitment to designate more National Parks in Scotland. This resulted in both a feature article and an editorial in The Scotsman, an item on the BBC website, and a Radio Scotland interview with APRS Director John Mayhew on Good Morning Scotland.

Photo – Loch Maree – not yet a National Park


Education Update

As Covid restrictions have prevented school visits, we have promoted our Countryside Protectors educational resources to schools by phone and have had a fantastic response, with hundreds of booklets sent to schools across Scotland. There is keen interest in the topic of deposit return, which delivers for the Curriculum for Excellence and Sustainable Development Goals. We will continue our deposit return school engagement programme across 2022-23 in person, online or through blended learning as restrictions allow. If you are or know a teacher who would be interested in any of these offers, please contact Jo at education@aprs.scot or visit our website to find out more.

Climate, Planning and Communities Webinar
In January we held our first public webinar – Climate, Planning and Communities – which we promoted to members and supporters and across social media. We had a fantastic turnout and hugely positive survey feedback from attendees, with 80% saying they would use what they had learnt for their community in voluntary roles. This will also help us to plan future events, so thank you if you completed the survey. The webinar revealed a real sense of frustration across communities engaging with the planning system and Green Belt protection. You can see the three speakers’ presentations on our Events page. We hope that current funding bids will help us deliver more of these events and support more communities.

 

Advice Note on The Planning System
During the webinar we were also excited to launch our new Advice Note on The Planning System, aimed at individuals and communities wanting to understand and engage in the planning system, possibly for the first time. During our recent planning webinar, APRS Director John Mayhew gave a brief presentation on Local Development Plans, why they are important, as well giving some key tips on responding effectively to individual planning applications. You can find his talk here

 

Events – looking for stall locations!
We are currently planning our event stall programme for 2022, with the aim of engaging with communities and the public about deposit return, our educational resources, Green Belt protection and our other work as well as fundraising. We are keen to hear from anyone who knows of a small or large community or public event that APRS could attend with a stall – please contact Jo at education@aprs.scot.

Photo – Dynamic Earth stall

 

Community Council Engagement
We are lucky to have the support of many Community Councils across Scotland who help us to continue our work. We have recently seen an increase of 20% in our Community Council members, and are keen to invite more to work with us to help us to make positive change for communities and Scotland’s countryside. Are you part of or do you know a Community Council that might consider supporting our work as a member, where you live? If so, please contact Nina at info@aprs.scot.

Virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) – Thursday 26 May
Due to continuing uncertainties surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic, this year’s AGM will once again take place by Zoom video call on Thursday 26 May 2021 at 10.30am. If you wish to take part in the video call you must book a place in advance, either by emailing info@aprs.scot or by phoning 0131 225 7012

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Please look out for our next Newsletter in May and Bulletin in August

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