POWERS to prevent Scotland's planning system being "skewed by wealthy and influential interests" should be passed by Holyrood, campaigners have said.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said new limits are needed on "overpowering" developments.

Lennon said "real safeguards" should be part of a shake-up of planning laws.

She said people must have firmer rights to stop overbearing projects being built near them.

Lennon has fought repeated applications from Clean Power Properties Ltd to build a new incinerator in Hamilton, despite South Lanarkshire Council rejecting the plans.

The Central Scotland MSP said planners were regularly "worn down by developers" who persist with the same applications.

Lennon said the planning system had to be "rebalanced" due the "army of experts and lawyers" she claimed many wealthy developers hire.

Lennon, who was a chartered town planner before entering politics, said most individuals were unable to afford such costs.

She said the existing planning system was heavily weighted in favour of big business.

Under proposals from Lennon groups of residents or a "community" would get the same formal right to appeal as developers.

She said there should also be restrictions on a developers repeatedly putting in the same application.

Lennon said: "Community planners describe feeling worn down by developers making repeat applications until they get the decision they want.

"There is a feeling that communities are being denied natural justice.

"How can it be right that developers can appeal decisions yet communities can't."

Lennon will seek to have her proposals included in the Scottish government's planning bill, which aims to reform the system of plan making.

She said: "The planning system is the framework for determining the use of buildings and land, shaping our built and natural environments for years to come.

"So it is only fair that decisions are taken by in the interest of the public good and not skewed by wealthy and influential interests as so often happens.

"The Scottish planning system needs rebalanced; not only to build public trust and participation but to lock in real safeguards against overpowering developers and their army of experts and lawyers."

Clare Symonds, chair of Planning Democracy, which campaigns for a reformed planning system, backed the call.

Symonds said: “Time and again developers are able to ride roughshod over communities, putting profits rather than community needs first.

"The planning bill is a key opportunity for politicians to level the playing field between communities and developers.

"An equal right of appeal would give communities the opportunity to appeal planning decisions.

"Currently, only developers have the ability to appeal if they are refused planning permission.

"Providing communities with a right to appeal decisions would be a powerful symbol of change, embracing a principle of equality between different parties in the planning process.

"It would fix a glaring injustice by providing the same rights for communities as developers."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the planning bill would "transform Scotland’s planning system" by delivering great quality developments and boosting economic growth.