New planning rules must protect Scotland’s ancient woods and trees
Scotland's existing planning policy leaves irreplaceable ancient woods and trees vulnerable to inappropriate development.
Credit: Niall Benvie / WTML
Scotland is home to unique and irreplaceable ancient woods and trees. Havens for wildlife like red squirrel and pine marten, they also store vast amounts of carbon - disproportionately more so than other woods. They are natural bastions in the face of the climate and nature emergencies. But they face constant threat.
Current policy is inadequate
Current planning policy leaves these valuable habitats vulnerable to damage and destruction from inappropriate development. Existing guidance is simply too weak to deter developers from damaging these irreplaceable habitats. Too often proposals are approved despite their impact on these precious places.
Scottish Government must follow through and strengthen planning rules to improve protection for ancient woodland and veteran trees. We must preserve what we have before it’s too late.
Irreplaceable habitats must have better protection
Scotland’s National Planning Framework (NPF4) and Scottish Planning Policy guide where and how development happens. Recently Scottish Government published a new draft NPF with proposed changes that can help prevent development damage to ancient woods and veteran trees. This could be good news, but these are still just proposals.
A Government consultation on the proposed changes closed on 31 March 2022. Thank you to everyone who spoke up to make sure the proposals are retained and acted upon – that words are turned to action. We will update you when the Scottish Government makes its decision.