The ability of the Scottish Government to overturn local planning decisions could be “a thing of the past” under Scottish Conservative plans, Moray’s MP has said.
Douglas Ross wants to give local communities the final say in planning applications affecting their area.
At present, applicants can appeal to the Scottish Government’s department for planning and environmental appeals. Government-appointed reporters then have the power to recommend that the decision of local councilors be overturned.
In January this year, two local planning decisions in Moray were reversed within two days, prompting local councillors to accuse the Scottish Government of “riding roughshod” over local democracy.
The applications from Springfield Propeties for housing at Bain Avenue in Elgin and Ferrylea in Forres were thrown out by the Moray Council planning committee before being granted on appeal.
Scottish Conservative MP for Moray Douglas Ross said:
“Communities in Moray have first-hand experience of local decision-making being taken out of the hands of councillors by the Scottish Government.
“In January, two applications that were thrown out by the council were overturned on appeal by a Scottish Government appointed reporter.
“Local councillors had weighed up the arguments on both sides and had done what they thought was best for their communities.
“It is galling that their decision in the end counted for nothing.
"The Scottish Government should not have the power, unless there are exceptional circumstances, to overturn local decisions.
“I want to make these reversals of local decisions a thing of the past. I know from my time Chairing the Planning Committee on Moray Council how frustrating it is for local people to have their opinions heard and agreed with at a local level, only for a decision to be reversed by the Scottish Government.
“It is time that we returned more power to local communities – putting a stop to this anti-democratic practice is one of the many policies that I and the Scottish Conservatives will be taking into the next election in May.”