NPF4 and the twin nature and climate crises

Scotland is in a climate and nature emergency, often described as ‘twin’ crises due to the extent they are interlinked.

The National Planning Framework is a strategic document setting out how the Scottish Government’s “approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045”.

This SPICe blog explores how changes to national planning policies and particularly the draft NPF4 will impact on nature and biodiversity

There is more focus on nature recovery in draft NPF4 compared to previous strategies, with the nature crisis recognised front and centre, for example:

  • Policy 3 on the ‘nature crisis’ sets out that development plans should “facilitate biodiversity enhancement, nature recovery and nature restoration”, development proposals should “contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity”, and that potential adverse impacts of development proposals on biodiversity, nature networks and the natural environment should be minimised, including taking into account the need to reverse biodiversity loss.

  • Policy 32 sets out that spatial strategies in Local Development Plans should be designed to better connect nature rich areas through establishing nature networks.

  • National developments: Although every national development is likely to have biodiversity implications, notable inclusions are the Central Scotland Green Network (carried forward from NPF3) – a nature network for the central belt, and sustainable blue and green drainage solutions in Edinburgh and Glasgow – which highlight that a nature-based approach to surface water management has the potential to deliver health, wellbeing, economic, climate adaptation and mitigation benefits.

The blog asks "Has NPF4 set a ‘new standard’ for biodiversity?" and comments: whilst there is generally strong support for the recognition given to the nature crisis, a common theme of responses is one of concern that policies continue to lack firm delivery mechanisms.

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