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Heritage body may cut objections  

Scotland’s heritage agency may reduce the number of objections it makes to planning applications in an effort to ensure its budget is better spent.

Scottish Natural Heritage uses about a third of its resources on advice to local authorities on applications.

The Inverness-based organisation denied the move would be a step back from its role of safeguarding the environment.

A report commissioned by the agency found it should concentrate on high-quality advice on local cases.

SNH chairman Andrew Thin said the concern was to ensure money was wisely and effectively spent.

‘Clear’ advice

“We spend about a third of our resources, which totals up to more than £20m of tax payers’ money, on giving advice to planning authorities on planning applications,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

His comments came after SNH, which objected to US tycoon Donald Trump’s plans for a golf resort in the north east of Scotland, commissioned a report from Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University.

It recommended that the agency should focus its work on giving “really good advice” to planning authorities in cases that were of local rather than national interest.

Mr Thin, who stressed that discussion had to be undertaken with councils and the Scottish Government on the contents of the report, added: “The key thing is the planning system is a democratic system and rightly so.

“A democratic system can’t work well if people aren’t adequately informed. What they are recommending is that we make our advice very clear.”

BBC News

27 December 2007

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