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Hydro scheme and better digital links added to Scottish Government's national planning framework

A hydro scheme and plans for better digital links have been added to the Scottish Government list of nationally-important developments.

The two key proposals are in a list of 14 schemes considered vital to economic growth.

Planning minister Derek Mackay said: "The proposed framework will benefit every part of Scotland and sets out our vision for where sustainable economic growth should take place over the next 20 to 30 years.

"I want future planning decisions to give due weight to the economic benefit of proposed developments, particularly the creation of new jobs."

The list is contained in an updated national planning framework, published by the Government after public consultation.

The digital fibre network aims to realise the Government's "ambition for world-class connectivity".

Focused on remote rural communities, it also has opportunities for associated improvements to the electricity grid and for walking and cycling networks.

The second scheme highlights pumped hydroelectric storage at existing and new sites as a way of supporting energy supply.

"This will help to balance electricity supply and demand when we have a much greater proportion of electricity from renewable energy technologies, providing a means to manage more intermittent electricity generation from those sources," the planning report states.

Development at Cruachan in Argyll is underlined as having "significant potential" for enhanced capacity.

The development of the former Ravenscraig steel works and Dundee waterfront are considered key schemes for cities.

Ambitions for a low carbon country will be supported by three projects, including at Cruachan.

A "green network", particularly on disused land, will boost the environment, the report notes.

High-speed rail between Edinburgh and Glasgow is named as a project to help connect parts of Scotland.

The 14 projects would still need planning permission and any other consents.

The wider report looks at planning and its application across the country.

It considers cities to be a main focus for investment and notes a desire to remove "constraints" on infrastructure.

Housing requirements are most acute around Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen. Much of the growth in towns and cities could be accommodated by "increasing density".

A "generous supply" of housing is needed in the Edinburgh region, according to the document.

Development in rural areas should also not be "unnecessarily constrained".

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