3. Accuracy and scope of information
3.1 The second consultation question sought views on the accuracy and scope of information set out in the SA report. The question was split into three parts, asking for views on the information in relation to (a) environmental baseline, (b) social baseline and (C) economic baseline. In practice, most of those providing comment at Question 2 considered the evidence base in the round. Where respondents considered specific aspects of the SA evidence this was most commonly in relation to the environmental baseline, and few respondents raised issues which were specific to the social or economic baselines.
Q2. What are your views on the accuracy and scope of the information described in the Sustainability Appraisal report as regards:
a. environmental baseline?
b. social baseline?
c. economic baseline?
3.2 A total of 74 respondents addressed Question 2, including 40 organisation respondents and 34 individuals. Of these 74 respondents, 20 expressed broad support for the SA baseline, 18 provided comments which criticised aspects of the accuracy and scope of information described or offered suggestions as to how this could be improved, and 36 did not give a clear overall view. Most of those expressing broad support raised some issues or concerns; overall, 59 respondents (27 organisations and 32 individuals) raised issues or concerns regarding the information described in the SA. Table 3 summarises these responses by respondent type.
|Answered Question 2||Raised issues or amendments|
|All Respondents||74||59 (80%)|
|Other public bodies||4||4|
|Planning and other professionals||4||2|
|Energy supply and/or distribution||4||4|
3.1 A range of respondents express their approval of the evidence base set out in the SA. This included a mix of planning authorities, other public bodies, planning/other professionals, private sector, third sector and individual respondents.
3.2 As Table 3 shows, most of those providing comment at Question 2 raised issues or concerns regarding the accuracy and scope of the information described in the SA. Most of the issues raised related to specific development types and we summarise these over the following pages. However, a number of common themes were also evident across these responses.
3.3 It should be noted that these common themes, and the great majority of points relating to specific development types, were raised in relation to the SA baseline as a whole, or were raised specifically in relation to the environmental baseline. Relatively few respondents raised issues specifically related to the social and economic baselines. The points considered below therefore relate to the environmental baseline; we highlight where points were also raised in relation to the social and/or economic baseline. Points raised exclusively in relation to the social and/or economic baselines are summarised at the end of this section of the report.
3.4 Some were of the view that some of the information set out in the SA is 'generic' rather than specifically related to the development types under consideration, and based on assumption and broad assessment. These respondents wished to see more detailed information provided for consultation as the work programme progresses, including more qualitative consideration of impacts. It was suggested that the Post Adoption Statement should be the mechanism by which key SA findings and evidence are taken forward to inform the ongoing work programme.
3.5 A planning/other professional was unsure of how the use of three separate baselines (environmental, social and economic) will be used to judge detailed proposals, and that clarification is required regarding areas of overlap between the baselines.
3.6 Some respondents suggested that the evidence base as set out in the SA includes out of data sources which could provide an inaccurate baseline for assessment. This included comments from other public bodies, private sector and third sector respondents. Some also noted that reference to legislation and wider policy objectives should be kept under review to ensure they remain current. Specific data sources are considered in relation to each of the development types over the following pages.
3.7 Several planning/other professional and third sector respondents raised concerns regarding the extent to which information set out in the SA takes sufficient account of potential impacts on Scotland's historic and cultural heritage. These respondents expressed a view that historic and cultural heritage is relevant to the environmental, social and economic baselines and should be referenced by each.
3.8 Specific suggestions are summarised below.
- Further information on cultural heritage should be included under each development type at Appendix 2 to the SA, considering possible impacts and identifying potential mitigation.
- Reference to the 2019 Historic Environment Policy for Scotland should be included under 'Policies, Plans, Programmes and Strategies'.
- The SA should provide a clearer account of the respective roles of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and local authorities in relation to the historic environment.
- The SA should acknowledge that non-designated heritage sites are recognised by Scottish Planning Policy as assets in their own right.
3.9 Some respondents, primarily third sector organisations, referred to perceived gaps in the environmental, social and economic baselines as set out in the SA. This included particular reference to biodiversity and designated areas. Specific comments are summarised below.
- Several third sector and individual respondents suggested that the environmental baseline should recognise the pressure on biodiversity across Scotland, not only in designated areas. Although it was also suggested that the SA could further emphasise the potential role of designated areas and Wild Land Areas in addressing declines in biodiversity.
- Some respondents felt that further development of the environmental, social and economic baselines was required to support consideration of 'reasonable alternatives' to extension of PDR. It was suggested that the Proposed Work Programme and/or Post Adoption Statement should ensure that environmental effects are taken account of future work-streams when considering alternatives.
- A third sector respondent suggested that recognition of uncertainty around the extent of PDR use at a local level raised questions regarding the ability of the SA to properly assess potential impacts associated with each development type.
- Some third sector respondents referred to specific designations as having been omitted from the environmental baseline set out in the SA. These included Special Landscape Areas, pre-1919 buildings as a national performance indicator for the historic environment, designated gardens and landscapes, designated historic battlefields, designated wild land, and green belt.
- The SA should include reference to the 'purpose of planning' as defined by the 2019 Planning Act, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to be referenced throughout the SA.
- The SA should give more consideration to the potential adverse effects of PDR on the connectivity of habitat networks, and for example the fragmentation of green corridors and wetlands.
3.10 Several respondents suggested that the environmental, social and economic baselines do not include sufficient consideration of the potential impact of PDR on flood risk. This included respondents citing recent research evidence on the impact of 'urban creep' on flood risk, and suggestions that extending PDR for householder developments could increase the rate of urban creep. Some also suggested that the environmental baseline does not refer to the most up to date flood risk assessment for Scotland (from 2018), and as such underestimates current risk to homes and businesses.
Comments on the environmental baseline
Phase 1 development types
3.11 In relation to PDR for digital communications infrastructure, some individual respondents suggested that the evidence base on the potential impact of 5G development was incomplete or out of date. These respondents made reference to a small number of alternative evidence sources.
3.12 Key points raised in relation to information in the SA relating to PDR for agricultural developments are summarised below.
- A private sector respondent suggested that the SA did not fully explore the environmental, social and economic outcomes associated with extending PDR in agricultural development regarding brownfield sites.
- A private sector respondent wished to see more detailed evidence on extension of PDR to allow adaptation of existing agricultural buildings to create larger and more modern buildings.
- A private sector respondent would like to see more detail on the environmental, social and economic effects of extending PDR to allow change of use of agricultural development to provide residential housing.
3.13 Key points raised in relation to information in the SA relating to PDR for micro-renewables are summarised below.
- A private sector respondent suggested that the information provided on the predicted impact of extending PDR for solar PV is out of date, and does not take account of recent developments in solar technology. This included specific reference to the impact of installations to historic buildings and impacts on aviation and airports. It was also suggested that the social and economic baselines under-estimate the potential positive impacts of small scale solar development.
- A planning authority wished to see more detail on energy generation from micro-renewables in Scotland.
- An other public body suggested that the information set out in the SA should include consideration of broader interventions as 'reasonable alternatives' to extension of PDR, such as alternative incentives to encourage use of micro-renewables.
3.14 In relation to PDR for peatland restoration, a planning authority suggested that the evidence base should recognise that some peatland occurs outwith designated sites or rural areas.
3.15 In relation to PDR for hill tracks (private ways) some respondents wished to see further analysis of the implications of changes to PDR for hill tracks.
Phase 2 development types
3.16 Key points raised in relation to information in the SA relating to PDR for electric vehicle charging infrastructure are summarised below.
- A private sector respondent suggested that the baselines could do more to recognise scope for solar energy to contribute to reduction in emissions when deployed alongside EV charging infrastructure.
- A private sector respondent suggested that the SA over-states the potential negative impacts of EV charging infrastructure on cultural heritage, and does not provide sufficient justification for the proposed restriction on EV charging points within 2m of a road.
3.17 In relation to PDR for active travel a number of individual respondents wished to see the evidence base include reference to the position of households who need bike storage but do not have access to a rear garden.
Phase 3 development types
3.18 Key points raised in relation to information in the SA relating to PDR for householder developments are summarised below.
- An other public body suggested that the SA evidence base fails to acknowledge the potential for extension of PDR for householder developments to increase the rate of urban creep (increasing flood risk), and to negatively impact landscape and biodiversity through loss of householder garden space.
Phase 4 development types
3.19 In relation to PDR for domestic and non-domestic energy storage a private sector respondent suggested that more detail is required on who will be able to deploy battery storage under PDR, and recognition of the potential for extension of PDR to encourage more investment in battery storage schemes and lead to an increase in deployment.
Phase 5 development types
3.20 In relation to PDR for habitat pond creation a third sector respondent suggested that the SA should note the benefits of habitat pond creation for climate policy objectives.
3.21 Key points raised in relation to information in the SA relating to PDR for allotments and community growing schemes are summarised below.
- A third sector respondent highlighted several aspects of the SA baseline which were regarded as incorrect. This included suggestions that perimeter fencing does not need to be 2m high, that sheds are not permanent structures, that a site hut or communal hut is essential, that greenhouses are preferred to polytunnels, that composting toilets and car parking are not essential, and that water and drainage will always require SEPA approval.
Phase 6 development types
3.22 In relation to PDR for snow sports a third sector respondent suggested that the SA could include information on other forms of recreation.
Comments on the social and economic baselines
3.1 Specific points raised at Question 2 in relation to the social baseline are summarised below.
- Some referred to out of date evidence sources in relation to social impacts.
- It was noted that discussion of recreational and cultural provision is limited to snow sports, and that cultural provision is referenced in the 2019 Planning Act under the 'agent of change'
- It was suggested that the social baseline does not reference the impact of flooding on mental health.
- Some expressed concern that the SA does not refer to potential adverse impacts for outdoor access rights and the paths network.
- In relation to digital communications infrastructure, some individual respondents suggested that the evidence base is incomplete or out of date on the potential health impacts of 5G development.
- In relation to householder developments, a planning authority respondent wished to see the section on householder developments expanded to include information on householder micro-renewables.
- In relation to allotments and community growing schemes, it was suggested that reference to 'cluttered appearance' is a subjective judgement.
3.2 Specific points raised at Question 2 in relation to the economic baseline are summarised below.
- Some referred to out of date evidence sources in relation to economic impacts.
- A third sector respondent noted that the economic baseline did not make reference to quality of place, and suggested that this can be an important factor in attracting and retaining people and businesses.
- It was suggested that the economic baseline does not consider the economic impact of flooding for properties, businesses and infrastructure.
- In relation to digital communications infrastructure, some individual respondents suggested that the evidence base was incomplete or out of date on the potential financial costs associated with the health impacts of 5G development.
- In relation to agricultural development, a private sector respondents wished to see more detail on outcomes around agricultural development to facilitate agricultural adaptation and innovation. A planning authority suggested that the SA could refer to examples of farms diversifying into renewables.
- In relation to allotments and community growing schemes, a third sector respondent wished to see reference to the contribution to Scottish Government targets on health, food security and climate change.
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