National Planning Framework for Scotland 2

Long term spatial strategy for Scotland's development.



11. To ensure that Scotland is equipped to respond effectively to the economic, social and environmental challenges of the next 20 years, it is necessary to be clear about what these challenges are likely to be and consider what can be done about them. This section identifies some of the key issues which need to be addressed, while recognising the uncertainties inherent in any predictions about the future and the importance of retaining the flexibility to deal with the unexpected.


12. The central purpose of the Scottish Government is to increase sustainable economic growth. The Government Economic Strategy ( GES) makes clear that financial and other resources will be aligned to ensure that policy development and spending programmes are sharply focused on achieving that purpose and the challenging targets the Government has set. This Framework takes forward the spatial aspects of the Government Economic Strategy, to ensure that each part of the country is able to play to its strengths in building a Scotland that is wealthier and fairer, smarter and greener, healthier, safer and stronger.

The Importance of Place

13. The first National Planning Framework highlighted the importance of place to a modern knowledge economy. Businesses choose to locate where they can recruit well-educated, talented people and capital flows to places which have the sort of physical and social infrastructure which supports innovation. Well-qualified, creative people are attracted to places which offer a variety of economic opportunities, a stimulating environment, amenities for a wide range of lifestyles and good connections to other high quality places. Successful places have strong, positive identities. They are cosmopolitan, well-connected and diverse, offering opportunities for a wide range of creative interaction. The environmental quality, built heritage and cultural life of Scotland's cities and towns are therefore strong economic assets and planning policies must place emphasis on supporting and enhancing them.

14. A positive sense of place is just as important in rural areas. As the rural economy changes, a high quality environment and a strong cultural identity will be key assets in promoting sustainable growth, economic diversification and community development. Key attributes of a competitive rural area include a diverse employment base and high activity rates; good physical and digital connectivity; high quality higher and further education provision; good public and private services; and strong, outward-looking communities with confidence in the future.


15. Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It therefore has social, economic and environmental dimensions. The Scottish Government's commitment to sustainable development is reflected in its policies on matters such as climate change, transport, renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and public health. There is a statutory requirement that the National Planning Framework should contribute to sustainable development. Planning authorities have a duty to contribute to sustainable development through their development planning function.

Climate Change

16. One of the principal challenges relates to climate change; reducing the greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to it and adapting to the changes in our environment which are already becoming apparent. The main sources of emissions are energy supply, transport and business. Emissions from energy supply and business have fallen significantly since 1990, but transport emissions have risen by 11%. Even with strong policies in place to reduce emissions, some degree of climate change is unavoidable as past and present emissions impact over the next 30 to 40 years.

17. The fossil fuels which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions are a finite resource. Some analysts predict that world oil production will peak before 2020. A growing imbalance between supply and demand for oil and gas products has profound implications for the future of transport and the global economy. Increasingly intense competition for available resources could drive up fuel prices substantially, heralding the end of cheap travel and the patterns of development and business activity it has supported. These factors together with economic security considerations point to a strategy of reducing dependency on fossil fuels over time.



18. Substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary to minimise the impacts of climate change. Taking no action would have significant adverse effects on the environment and the lifestyles we currently enjoy. If global action is taken now, the worst of these effects may be avoided. The changes required to minimise climate change and mitigate its impacts may well affect our lifestyles, but they need not have negative effects on our overall quality of life. Indeed, they may bring substantial benefits in areas such as health and environmental quality.

19. The UK and Scottish Governments are taking an international lead by introducing ambitious statutory emission reduction targets through, respectively, the UK Climate Change Act and the Scottish Climate Change Bill.

20. Future climate scenarios suggest wetter winters and warmer average temperatures. Scotland is likely to experience an increase in the frequency of severe weather, a rise in sea level, stronger tidal surges and less snow. Climate change also poses challenges for the water environment and water infrastructure. In the west, volumes of water available for hydro-power generation may increase. However, in the east, summer droughts could lead to reduced water volumes but higher abstraction demands, particularly for agricultural irrigation. Cultural landscapes and archaeological sites may be at greater risk from flooding, rising water tables, higher sea levels and coastal erosion. On the other hand, the climate may become more favourable for tourism, forestry and certain types of agriculture. The Scottish Government is assessing the challenges and opportunities of a changing climate and identifying priorities for action in its Climate Change Adaptation Framework, which will be published at the end of 2009.


21. Transport (excluding aviation) accounts for over 20% of Scottish greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing contributor to emissions. Road transport is by far the biggest source of emissions from the transport sector. Heavy reliance on the private car and the trend towards greater mobility are contributing to climate change, growing congestion and the erosion of environmental quality. However, there is a strong public consensus in favour of action to reduce congestion and the environmental impacts of car use.

22. The reduction of emissions from transport sources will involve measures to improve the accessibility of education, employment and services and encourage a shift to more active and sustainable modes of travel and transport. For people, this means a shift from car-based travel to walking, cycling and public transport. For goods, it means a shift from road to rail and water. The relationship between transport and land use is central to this agenda.

23. The promotion of compact settlements, mixed use development, effective active travel networks and efficient public transport systems can play an important part in reducing the need for car-based commuting. However, as commuting levels are the outcome of individual decisions on household location relative to workplace, the cost of fuel is likely to be a more powerful determinant of change.

24. While the expansion of direct air links has dramatically improved Scotland's international connectivity in recent years, air travel is making a growing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. A key issue over the next 25 years will be how to maintain and enhance this connectivity, with all the economic and other benefits that this will bring, while tackling the challenge of climate change. Faster cross-border rail links would make the train more competitive with the plane for many journeys to and from London and other UK cities, potentially helping to reduce emissions from short-haul flights. The new Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras offers opportunities for easier rail journeys between Scotland and the Continent. For the majority of overseas trips and business trips between the North of Scotland and the South of England, however, flying is likely to remain the only practical option.


25. Tackling climate change and reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels are two of the major global challenges of our time. More than two thirds of the world's Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) emissions are the product of current patterns of energy production and consumption. Growing demand in the expanding Asian economies is raising concerns about the implications for future energy prices and long-term security of supply. Addressing these challenges will demand profound changes in the way we produce, distribute and use energy over the coming decades.

26. The European Union has responded by committing to deriving 20% of the energy it uses from renewable sources by 2020. The Scottish Government supports this objective and has in place its own, higher target for electricity generated from renewable sources. It also wants to see continued improvements in energy efficiency; the development of technologies which derive clean energy from fossil fuels; the harnessing of renewable sources of heat; and decentralised energy production, including local heat and power schemes and micro-generation.




27. The effective management and re-use of waste is essential to a sustainable future. The EU Landfill Directive requires the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill to be reduced by 35% of the total produced in 1995 by 2020. Landfill Tax is increasing substantially. Additional facilities for the treatment and recycling of municipal, commercial and industrial wastes are therefore urgently needed. As the methane produced by landfill sites is a powerful greenhouse gas, reducing the scale of landfill helps to combat climate change. The construction and operation of waste management installations can also offer new economic opportunities.


28. Stewardship of Scotland's wildlife and biodiversity can make a significant contribution to sustainable economic growth. Climate change may result in areas which currently support particular plants and animals becoming less suitable for them in the future. It may therefore be necessary to plan for species migration. Managed coastal retreat in response to rising sea levels may offer opportunities to create new wetland habitats.

New Technologies

29. Modern communications technologies are often seen as offering opportunities to reduce the need to travel, and therefore CO 2 emissions. They have certainly made working from home a real option for some people. Internet streaming and video-conferencing can reduce the need to make journeys for business purposes. However, people value the social contact which work provides and there is a strong preference for a physical presence and face-to-face interaction for many business transactions. Also, while internet purchases can substitute for some shopping trips, the growth in internet sales has led to a substantial growth in vehicle-based home-delivery services. There is currently no information on the impact of home working on overall energy consumption and CO 2 emissions, taking account of home heating and power requirements. Whether the overall impact of new communications technologies on travel demand will be positive or negative is also far from clear. Any policy interventions must focus on applications which bring demonstrable benefits.

30. Increasing the use of carbon neutral and low or no-emission fuels can make a significant contribution to reducing the environmental impacts of moving people and goods. Whatever the theoretical scope for expanding the production of biofuels, there are concerns about potential effects on biodiversity, food production, sustainable rural development and landscape character. Biomass for heating looks much more promising than biofuels produced from arable crops, though woodland expansion has to take account of a range of factors, not least the importance of retaining the carbon locked in soils. Hydrogen fuel cell technology, although still at the early stages of development, offers many opportunities, most notably through its ability to capture and store energy from renewable sources.


31. Scotland's population was 5,168,500 in 2008, its highest level since 1981. Higher birth rates and in-migration have reversed the recent downward trend. Projections published by the General Register Office of Scotland ( GROS) indicate that the population will rise to 5.37 million by 2031.

32. As in many other European countries, the population is ageing markedly. The number of people over 75 is projected to increase by 81% over the period 2006 to 2031. The planning system must ensure that the implications of our changing demographic profile are fully reflected in the provisions for housing, transport and community facilities. While the modest increase in the fertility rate (0.05%) is insufficient to counter the trend towards an ageing population, it does highlight the need to ensure that social provision does not focus exclusively on the needs of older people. We also need to provide adequately for children and young people.

33. Sub-national population projections to 2031 indicate strong growth in Eastern and Central Scotland with the largest increases in West Lothian (+22%), Perth and Kinross, (+22%), East Lothian (+21%), Aberdeenshire (+19%), Edinburgh (+17%) and the Borders (+16%). The fortunes of parts of the Highlands and Islands have turned round dramatically in recent years, with many areas experiencing a growth in population for the first time in generations. Substantial growth is taking place in Inverness and the Inner Moray Firth, but population is also increasing in Skye and Wester Ross, Orkney, Argyll, Moray and Lochaber.



34. The number of households continues to grow and that has implications for housing, infrastructure, energy demand and CO 2 emissions. Between 2006 and 2031, the number of households is projected to increase by 19% to 2.7 million, an average of 17,600 additional households per year. Not all of the additional houses needed to accommodate these households can be built on previously developed land.

35. It is important to recognise that population and household projections are based on extrapolation of past trends and are therefore indicative rather than predictive. Indeed, the Government's aspirations for Scotland - reflected in targets for greater economic and population growth - imply higher overall household growth than current projections indicate. The planning system should reflect this, to ensure a generous supply of land for housing.


36. Raising Scotland's international profile is important to the realisation of the Scottish Government's five strategic objectives, in particular the wealthier and fairer objective, and the Government Economic Strategy. The Scottish Government's International Framework document sets out how international engagement and activity will be co-ordinated to support sustainable economic growth. Spatial planning has an important part to play in strengthening Scotland's international links.


37. The Government is committed to an enhanced relationship with the European Union ( EU). This Framework is informed by the European Spatial Development Perspective ( ESDP), the EU territorial cohesion agenda and developing European practice in spatial planning, particularly in the Celtic, Nordic and Baltic countries.

38. The European Structural Funds regime which came into effect in 2007 reflects the EU's revised regional development priorities following enlargement. Scotland's position has improved relative to the EU average GDP as a result of enlargement. Consequently, the amount of structural funding it receives has fallen substantially. It is therefore now even more important to ensure that the use of structural funds is closely aligned to the Government's strategic objectives.

39. Under the new programme, funding streams have been established to support Convergence, Competitiveness and Employment, and Territorial Co-operation. The Highlands and Islands is benefiting from Convergence funding under a provision for regions with a per capita GDP less than 75% of the EU-15 average. Competitiveness and Employment funding can be spent in lowland and upland areas, with some targeted on a spatial basis, depending on priorities within individual programmes.


Map 1

40. Under the Territorial Co-operation Objective, support is being provided for cross-border, transnational and inter-regional co-operation. Scotland is covered by four of the European regions established as a framework for transnational co-operation. The whole country lies within the North-West Europe Region and parts fall within the North Sea and Atlantic Regions. Parts of the north and west also lie within the Northern Periphery co-operation zone (see Map 1). While the boundaries of these areas have not changed greatly under the new framework, the inclusion of maritime borders within the EU definition of state borders has resulted in much of western Scotland becoming eligible for funding to support cross-border co-operation with the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Periphery Programme has been extended to eastern Moray and Dumfries and Galloway. The focus on issues facing peripheral, sparsely populated areas remains.

41. The Scotland Rural Development Programme 2007-13 sets out the Scottish Government's goals for sustainable rural development and the types of support that will be available from EU funds and other sources to help achieve these over the next 5 years. The programme will deliver a range of integrated schemes, including Rural Development Contracts.

United Kingdom

photograph42. The Scottish Government will work with the UK Government, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the English regions on spatial planning matters of common interest.

43. The Regional Spatial Strategy for the North East of England recognises the economic influence of the Edinburgh City Region on the North East of England and includes a commitment to improving accessibility and efficiency of movement along the East Coast corridor. The Scottish Government is in discussion with public agencies and local authorities in the North East of England with a view to developing a strategic agenda for the East Coast Corridor.

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