Our Planning Team’s work started at the re-founding of our Group in 2000 / 2001. At that point, only 1 person was involved. Initially, the focus was on preventing / minimising damage to important habitats and species by new development dealt with via Local Authority Planning Services. We operate in line with SWT HQ’s guidelines.
These days, after growing gradually over the years, we are a team of 7, some of us with more time to commit than others. We now have 2 areas of focus, the first is new development via Local Authority Planning Services, as before. The second focus is newer, starting about 7 years ago, the creation of New Woodland/Forestry that is dealt with via Scottish Forestry’s Regulatory system, along with applications for Permission to Fell existing forestry and Restock the Site.
This means 2 separate complex systems to get our heads round, so there’s always lots to learn.
Around the Planning Team itself, we have developed a wider group of knowledgeable naturalists who we sometimes turn to for help and advice, before responding to applications. (So often, good naturalists are lovely people too!) In addition, we continue to develop good working relationships with various NGOs and others, who have specialist knowledge of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, plants etc. We often share information back and fore with these NGOs to mutual benefit. Having these local networks is a really important element of being able to respond well as a Community Group to new proposals and to other public consultations.
Some recent figures(approximate) on Planning Team responses over an average recent year.
Local Authority Planning Work
Revision of Local Development Plan
Research and response 1
Research and response to individual proposals 73
(This includes from minor to very major responses)
Scottish Forestry work
Felling Permission and Restock
(Research and response at least 2-3 hrs) 17
Forestry Grant Scheme Woodland Creation
(Research and response at least 2-5hrs) 12
Concerns raised by SWT members/members of public
Research + response 6
Responses to National Public Consultations
Research and response 4
UK Woodland Assurance Standards (Team response)
NPF4 (National Planning Framework 4. (Several of Team responded individually)
Planning Team work is quite challenging, and we don’t always have the level of impact we would like, but we keep developing our skills, always with the aim of achieving more impact. This strategy is working over time. Some of us started as novices, some started with existing skills / expertise. We aim to use the strengths of all Team members to give the most rounded, best quality output we possibly can. When we need it, we can seek support from our link Staff Member at Scottish Wildlife Trust HQ.