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Vital role of planning missing from climate change plan, MSPs told

More consideration needs to be given to the location of new buildings in Scotland in the battle against climate change, says Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland.

Craig McLaren (pictured below), Director of RTPI Scotland, made the comments while giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee on the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan update which was published in December.

Craig told MSPs that planning’s vital role in achieving ambitious emissions targets was not fully recognised in the plan as it currently stands, with only one page on planning in the 255 pages of the entire document.

He said: “We think that the targets are ambitious and, hopefully, achievable. However, one of the issues we have with the way the document is set out is there is not sufficient consideration given to the role of place.

“We need to make sure we have energy-efficient buildings and we need to retro-fit as much as we possibly can. However, we must give more recognition to the importance of the location of new buildings and how they relate to one another, and how people relate to them.

“There is a real need to think about how we can minimise the need to travel, while promoting active and sustainable travel and public transport use. We need to make sure people have the services and facilities they need close to hand so they don’t need to travel by car.”

RTPI Scotland’s manifesto, published yesterday ahead of Scottish elections in May, calls for well-designed, attractive, healthy and sustainable communities giving people local access to the services, shops and facilities they need on a daily basis.

These “20 minute neighbourhoods” could also be the focus for the regeneration of Scotland’s town and city centres, where new housing is introduced to support pre-existing services and shops, the document says.

The RTPI’s Plan the World We Need campaign calls on governments across the UK and Ireland to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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