This submission is made on behalf of the Highlands and Islands Branch of the Scottish Green Party, which is a political party whose main focus for the purposes of this consultation is on the environmental impact of planning developments which affect the social framework in an area, a large portion of which, is disadvantaged by rurality and peripherality.
At the National Discussion Event which took place in Inverness on February 21st 2008 the presentation left little opportunity for meaningful discussion and there was no follow-up.
The key point we should like to make is that consultation with the local communities should take place at a much earlier stage in the process to ensure that all sides of the argument can be raised. At the present time, the public has the feeling of having little or no influence on the outcome of the consultation process.
Our concerns regarding large scale planning in the Inverness area are as follows:-
- The development of infrastructure prior to any major development.
- Developing existing smaller centres of population is a more productive way forward and means the retention of the core of the local community.
- The economic centre being more local and with local sources of food production.
- Local sources of renewable energy, where feasible.
- There should be an environmental audit of the loss of good agriculture land to housing and data kept on land and soil loss.
- Sustainability should mean the local production of materials and the use of these for building. Environmental responsibility should mean the use of the best forms of insulation and heating available.
- More money should be allocated to public transport, with the development of rail links crucial in the fight against global warming.
- A feasibility study should take place into the development of existing harbours and connectivity of ports, so that more goods can be moved by ship.
- As we have seen, the quality of life, the environment and landscape, encourage people to enjoy all that the Highlands & Islands has to offer. To radically change large swathes of this landscape, and to urbanise them, could impact on people’s perception of the Highlands, and on people’s lives.
For the future, there requires to be much more research done into development needs and detailed statistics produced and verified before proceeding.