Nicola Sturgeon sparks fury as SNP plots brazen ‘power grab’
Scotland’s government has overruled town halls over dozens of contentious planning applications. Official data reveals that almost half (45 percent) of appeals lodged by developers to ministers in Edinburgh are “allowed”.
Projects such as wind farms, which have been thrown out by local authority planning committees, are routinely reinstated by the Scottish government.
The findings follow in the wake of SNP-Green coalition efforts to boost the power generated by onshore turbines after key climate change targets were missed.
Campaign group Scotland in Union, which challenges the SNP’s independence agenda, said the numbers show Ms Sturgeon’s party continues to centralise power in Edinburgh and undermine devolution at the same time as it agitates for more powers from Westminster.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This data includes controversial applications where local people have said no, local officials have said no and locally elected representatives have said no.
“Yet the figures show that SNP ministers have decided on 45 percent of occasions that they know better.
“The SNP consistently complains about wanting more powers to come from Westminster to Holyrood, but at the same time it is hoarding powers and taking away decision-making from local communities.
“This goes against the spirit of devolution which the SNP is determined to undermine as it obsesses about how to divide communities.”
There were 282 appeals to ministers in 2020/21, according to the annual review of the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.
“Rather than listening to the views of those who would be affected by many planning proposals, the SNP act like they know better than those living there.”
Mr Kerr added that the figures sum up why the Scottish Conservatives will bring forward a bill to protect the powers of local authorities and stop the SNP overruling local planning decisions.
He said: “It is totally unacceptable that the SNP have dismissed the views of local people for so long from afar in Edinburgh.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the right to appeal is an important part of the planning system.
She added: “As with decisions made by local planning authorities, independent reporters, who make most decisions on planning appeals, are required to do so on the planning merits of the case, having taken full account of all the evidence before them, including any representations from members of the local community.”