Scotland 2045: fourth National Planning Framework - draft: society and equalities impact assessment

This report considers the potential impacts of introducing the draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) including on protected characteristics.

1. Introduction

1.1 National Planning Framework 4

The Scottish Government is reviewing its National Planning Framework (NPF), a long term plan for Scotland that sets out how the Scottish Government's approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net-zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045.

The current National Planning Framework (NPF3[1]) was published in 2014 and will remain in place until a fourth NPF (NPF4) is adopted. NPF4 will guide spatial development, set out Scotland's national planning policies, and will designate certain developments or classes of development as 'national developments'[fn] for which Ministers have established a need in principle.

NPF4 will have the same status as the local development plan for planning purposes. This means that its policies should inform day-to-day decision making in the planning system. It will also guide Local Development Plans and will be relevant to regional spatial strategies and important for communities as they develop their Local Place Plans. The Draft NPF4 takes into account indicative regional spatial strategies prepared by local authorities, ahead of new provisions in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 on regional spatial strategies coming into effect.

NPF4 will align with the Scottish Government's wider programmes and strategies, including on infrastructure, climate change and economic investment, and will address 6 statutory high level outcomes:

  • Meeting the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Scotland
  • Increasing the population of rural areas of Scotland
  • Improving equality and eliminating discrimination
  • Meeting any targets relating to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Securing positive effects for biodiversity.

1.2 What is Integrated Impact Assessment and how is this being undertaken?

It is important to understand and take into account the impact of policies and proposals as they are developed. A range of Impact Assessments have informed the Draft NPF4. As far as possible, we have integrated these assessments into the plan preparation process. We have also co-ordinated evidence gathering and assessment stages where relevant, sharing information and links between the different assessment topics and making connections.

1.3 What is an Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)?

The public sector equality duty requires the Scottish Government to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice. Equality legislation covers the characteristics of: age, disability, gender reassignment, sex including pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation.

An EQIA aims to consider how a policy (a policy can cover: activities, functions, strategies, programmes, and services or processes) may impact, either positively or negatively, on different sectors of the population in different ways.

The Equality Act 2010 harmonised existing equality legislation and includes a public sector duty ('the Duty') which requires public authorities to pay due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation or any other prohibited conduct;
  • Advance equality of opportunity; and
  • Foster good relations between different groups – by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.

The EQIA has considered the potential impacts of introducing the Draft NPF4 on each of the protected characteristics. The provisions and how they may impact on people across the protected characteristics are set out in Appendix A.

Whilst there is not currently a specific Human Rights Impact Assessment, human rights considerations should be embedded throughout the policy making process. These considerations accompany the EQIA in Appendix A.

1.4 What is the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)?

The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) is used to identify, research, analyse and record the impact of a proposed policy on children's human rights and wellbeing. CRWIA helps the Scottish Government consider whether it is: advancing the rights of children in Scotland; and protecting and promoting the wellbeing of children and young people.

CRWIA is a Ministerial duty under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The CRWIA can be found in Appendix B of this report.

1.5 What is the Fairer Scotland Duty (FSD) assessment?

The aim of the Fairer Scotland Duty is to help the public sector to make better policy decisions and deliver fairer outcomes. The duty focuses on socio-economic inequality issues such as low income, low wealth, and area deprivation.

The duty is set out in legislation as Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010, and came into force in Scotland from April 2018.

The legislation requires Scottish Ministers (and named public bodies) to actively consider what more can be done to reduce the 'inequalities of outcome' caused by 'socio-economic disadvantage' when making 'strategic decisions'.

The Fairer Scotland Duty assessment can be found in Appendix C of this report.

1.6 What is the Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA)?

An Island Community Impact Assessment (ICIA) tests any new policy, strategy or service which is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from the effect on other communities. This became a legal duty in December 2020 under the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018.

The Islands Community Impact Assessment can be found in Appendix D of this report.

1.7 The assessment approach

In January 2020 we published our NPF4 Integrated Impact Assessment Screening/ Scoping Report[2]. It signalled that the Scottish Government intended undertaking an EQIA, CRWIA, and ICIA, and would have due regard to issues arising pertaining to Human Rights matters and through the Fairer Scotland Duty, within the NPF4 preparation process. We also set out the initial evidence base on the potential impacts of policies. An update on the Integrated Impact Assessment was published in November 20203 alongside the NPF4: Position Statement[3]. Consultees were asked if they had any comments on this Update Report.

Relatively few comments were received on the Update Report, albeit a number of respondents expressed broad support. This included welcoming engagement with Public Health Scotland to inform the assessments. Other comments and queries included:

  • More detail about the impact assessment process would be welcome, including whether assessments will based on national or regional data. It was suggested that national-level data could miss or conceal local issues and that regional and locally granular data be used as far as possible.
  • Flexibility will be needed, as technologies and needs will change quickly; a 'change mechanism' would be appropriate.
  • Health effects must be examined. Public health considerations should be embedded into the plan making process and emerging data on the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken into account.

Due to the differing reporting requirements, we are presenting the outputs in separate appendices. However, the next section provides an overview of the key findings from the society and equalities assessments.



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