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Emergency bill extends duration of planning permissions in Scotland

Words: Roger Milne
Holyrood / Shutterstock_670045387

The Scottish Parliament has voted unanimously in favour of new emergency powers – including an extension to the expiry times for planning permissions. 

The legislation, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, was rushed through the Scottish Parliament in the space of one day on Wednesday (1 April).

The Covid-19 outbreak affects the ability of both planning authorities and applicants to deal with planning permissions that are due to expire. When planning permission is granted applicants generally have a period of three years to start development before the permission lapses. 

The new measures extend any planning permission – including planning permissions in principle – that would lapse within the next six months so that it will not expire until April 2021.

Scottish ministers would have the power, through regulations, to amend the duration of these six-month and one-year periods.

Under the bill, local authorities will be allowed to exclude the public from their meetings “on health grounds”, something the government said was a “reasonable and proportionate measure to protect the public and council members”.

Most measures in the bill will expire automatically six months after they come into force. The Scottish Parliament may extend the measures for two further periods of six months, giving the legislation a maximum duration of 18 months.

Ministers will provide a report to Parliament every two months about the use of these emergency powers.

The legislation is now awaiting royal assent.

Image credit | Shutterstock