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SNP won’t answer  

A Better Regulations Bill is expected to include plans to allow appeals against wind turbine planning decisions to be heard in the Court of Session.

A spokeswoman for Campaign against Turbines Scotland said: ‘We welcome anything which strengthens the role of local democracy in applications for wind farms.

‘At the moment the only recourse of those who want to challenge such decisions is judicial review, which is limited solely to aspects of procedure; the decision itself or its rationale cannot be challenged.

‘Nevertheless legal challenges should not be used to make up for glaring democratic deficits. Anyone involved in fighting wind farms quickly sees that the effective powers of community councils, local authorities and planning departments to determine the most significant development in their areas have been progressively eroded in favour of central political diktats.’

Credit:  By Andrew Picken | The Scottish Mail | 2 September 2012 ~~

The referendum and same-sex marriage will be among the showpiece Bills unveiled by Alex Salmond when Holyrood returns from its summer break next week.

Keen to deflect claims that the Scottish Government is only concerned with independence, a total of 15 new pieces of legislation will be revealed on Tuesday.

But at the heart of the programme will be the Referendum Bill – expected to be published in full by February next year.

Other aspects of the legislative plan will see an increase in free nursery care, a shake-up of the justice system and moves to make it simpler to fight wind farm decisions in the courts.

A Bill to make it easier for Scots firms to bid for public contracts is also likely to appear in the wake of the public outcry over the number of foreign companies winning contracts for the new Forth Road Bridge.

Mr Salmond will set out his legislative programme on Tuesday but critics yesterday claimed the SNP Government was doing little to address the country’s main problems, including a sluggish economy.

Paul Martin, Scottish Labour’s business manager, said: ‘This Government has spent its time in office obsessing about a referendum instead of dealing with the problems ordinary families are facing every day.

‘The forthcoming legislative programme is an opportunity for Alex Salmond to use his majority to bring about real change that will improve people’s lives but I have little confidence that we will see anything more than a few half-baked Bills and more grandstanding about the constitution.’

The legislation guaranteed to be announced this week includes the annual budget Bill, same-sex marriage, the referendum, the Children’s Bill and public procurement.

Bills which are expected to appear include plans to integrate adult health and social care services, as well as plans to improve the rights of victims and witnesses.

A move to end corroboration – the requirement for two pieces of evidence to secure a prosecution – is also likely to feature in a Bill aimed at revamping the justice system.

The Children’s Bill will see a 2007 SNP manifesto commitment finally fulfilled, with the increase of free nursery care for three and four-year-olds rising from 475 to 600 hours per year. The change will be announced this week but is not timed to come into effect until the start of the 2014 school year – only two months before voters go to the polls for the referendum.

A Better Regulations Bill is expected to include plans to allow appeals against wind turbine planning decisions to be heard in the Court of Session.

A spokeswoman for Campaign against Turbines Scotland said: ‘We welcome anything which strengthens the role of local democracy in applications for wind farms.

‘At the moment the only recourse of those who want to challenge such decisions is judicial review, which is limited solely to aspects of procedure; the decision itself or its rationale cannot be challenged.

‘Nevertheless legal challenges should not be used to make up for glaring democratic deficits. Anyone involved in fighting wind farms quickly sees that the effective powers of community councils, local authorities and planning departments to determine the most significant development in their areas have been progressively eroded in favour of central political diktats.’

The Better Regulations Bill will include provisions for SNP ministers to take charge of the fees charged for planning applications – lowering charges in areas of the country where the performance of planners is not up to scratch.

But the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland warned that it ‘would be counterproductive to withdraw funding from authorities which need to improve’.

A spokesman for Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, Bruce Crawford, said: ‘We have led the policy and political agenda over the summer and will continue to do so when parliament returns on Tuesday, with a programme for government which reflects the ambitions and priorities of the people, and reflects all areas of Scotland’s national life.

‘The Social Attitudes Survey found that more than 71 per cent of people trust the Scottish Government to act in Scotland’s best interests, up from 61 per cent in 2010 – and compared to only 18 per cent who trust the UK Government.

‘We are extremely confident that we will win the trust of the people for the positive case that Scotland can be well governed in all areas, by achieving the powers of independence in the autumn 2014 referendum.’

Source:  By Andrew Picken | The Scottish Mail | 2 September 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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