Scottish government overrules more than half of local planning decisions


Statistics have revealed the Scottish government overrules local authorities frequently when it comes to planning permission…

The Scottish government is utilising its power to overturn planning decisions made by local authorities. According to figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) a total of 77 out of 145 planning appeals this year have been allowed by the government. This is despite councils rejecting the submissions.

Some of the applications to receive a second chance by ministers included windfarms, mobile phone masts, and housing developments.

This figures has seen an increase from 2007, when the Scottish National Party (SNP) first came into power. According to the statistics, this year so far has seen council decisions overturned 53 per cent of the time by ministers. Comparatively, this figure was 32 per cent in entirety of 1999 and 41 per cent in 2007.

During 2014, the Scottish government overturned 56 per cent of planning decisions. This was an increase from 2013, which saw a total of 43 per cent.

The figures also varied between councils, with some seeing a higher number of applications overturned. In Aberdeenshire 19 of 33 appeals were won, giving those who disagreed with council planners a 58 per cent success rate to overturn the decision. South Ayrshire saw 75 per cent, while South Lanarkshire saw a 71 per cent success rate.

The SNP was accused by the Scottish Conservatives of failing to trust local decision making while pushing a centralised agenda.

Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “These figures show quite simply that the SNP does not trust local people and local councils to make decisions for themselves.

“It would rather ministers sitting in Edinburgh offices dictated to rural Scotland what it should and should not permit in towns, villages and communities.

“When decisions made by councils are taken above their heads, they are now being overruled more than 50 per cent of the time, and it’s getting worse.

“The message this sends out is, however unpopular or contentious the planning application, don’t worry if the councils says no, we’ll sort it out for you at Scottish Government level.

“But people want local authorities to have more control on these issues, not less.

“It’s completely unacceptable for the SNP to pursue this centralising mentality.

“It’s no wonder rural Scotland is becoming increasingly annoyed at what it sees as a central belt bias, and it’s time for the Scottish Government to stop hoovering up powers and hand back control to local communities.”

The number of planning appeals granted by the Scottish government is as follows:

  • 1999: 680 appeals, 218 allowed (32 per cent)
  • 2000: 580 appeals, 193 allowed (33 per cent)
  • 2001: 594 appeals, 217 allowed (37 per cent)
  • 2002: 674 appeals, 231 allowed (34 per cent)
  • 2003: 692 appeals, 242 allowed (35 per cent)
  • 2004: 755 appeals, 284 allowed (38 per cent)
  • 2005: 926 appeals, 346 allowed (37 per cent)
  • 2006: 947 appeals, 380 allowed (40 per cent)
  • 2007: 1001 appeals, 414 allowed (41 per cent)
  • 2008: 1061 appeals, 372 allowed (35 per cent)
  • 2009: 976 appeals, 339 allowed (35 per cent)
  • 2010: 384 appeals, 159 allowed (41 per cent)
  • 2011: 213 appeals, 100 allowed (47 per cent)
  • 2012: 278 appeals, 128 allowed (46 per cent)
  • 2013: 279 appeals, 121 allowed (43 per cent)
  • 2014: 232 appeals, 131 allowed (56 per cent)
  • 2015 (to mid-July): 145 appeals, 77 allowed (53 per cent)


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