SCOTTISH Government planning reforms do "not yet go far enough to respond to the nature and climate emergency," a coalition of leading environmental charities has warned. 

Scottish Environment LINK has said that the draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) falls short of the action required to reverse the "crisis of nature loss" in Scotland.

The new framework -  which is a high level strategic policy document - sets out the Scottish Government’s long-term plan to guide where development and infrastructure in Scotland should take place. 

It will play a critical role in guiding all planning decisions in the country for the next decade at least.

While it does take the climate into account, Scottish Environment LINK fear key aspects "fall short of the transformational approach required."

Clare Symonds, the founder and chair of Planning Democracy, who convenes the coalition’s planning group, said: “The planning system has the potential to play a key role in delivering meaningful change, but to do this planning policies need to be stronger to ensure wildlife and habitats are properly protected. 

“To go further and enhance nature we need far greater commitment and investment.”

The organisations have welcomed plans in NP4 forcing local authorities to create “nature networks”, which should be corridors of nature-rich landscapes and help to reverse a crisis in biodiversity. 

However, they have warned that the proposals lack a “clear delivery mechanism” and that there is “no description of what nature networks should be comprised of or how they will work in practice.” 

They also say there is little guidance for councils available, no duty to report their progress, and no sign of extra investment to support the work.

Ms Symonds said: “Nature recovery is key to reaching net-zero and coping with the consequences of climate change.

“Scottish Environment LINK is pleased that there is recognition of the climate and nature crises and many of the policy changes are positive. However key aspects of the document remain incremental and fall short of the transformational approach required.

“We need real leadership and national coordination, with councils supported to deliver a joined-up, Scotland-wide network to restore nature.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson told The Herald they were still "considering the broad range of views shared" before finalising NPF4 and presenting it to MSPs in the autumn.

They said: “Scotland’s planning system will play a vital role in responding to climate change, in encouraging nature recovery and in helping to deliver the infrastructure needed to achieve our net zero ambitions.

"National Planning Framework 4 will signal a turning point for planning and we have been clear that responding to the global climate emergency and the nature crisis will be central to that.

“Scottish Ministers have committed to ensuring that every local authority area has a nature network of new, locally driven projects which aim to improve ecological connectivity across Scotland. NPF4 is one of the tools which will support delivery of this commitment.

“The draft NPF4 has undergone detailed parliamentary scrutiny and wide-reaching public engagement and consultation. The Scottish Government is carefully considering the broad range of views shared before finalising NPF4 and presenting a final version for Scottish Parliament approval this autumn.”