Letters: Scotland’s future must be inclusive

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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As an organisation that promotes participation for all in the planning process in order to create a fairer Scotland, we very much welcome the measures set out in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.

This states that a key target is ensuring that communities are more engaged in the planning process, as part of a wider review of the system.

A national conversation has sprung up over recent years about how much say people have in shaping the places in which they live.

People want to understand more about how the planning process works and we have seen the number of planning inquiries to our advice service increase dramatically.

However, there is still a massive “knowledge gap” across Scotland between various communities, a “postcode lottery”, with more deprived communities often the most disenfranchised from participating in the planning process.

It is of course vital that the ambition of a fairer Scotland is matched by the necessary resourcing to deliver this. We would like to see a planning system which sees all people taking an active part in shaping the communities and places in which they live.

To achieve this will require a specific focus on disenfranchised communities, giving them the necessary tools to allow them to take a full and active part in this process.

Through this we can create the fairer Scotland which we all aspire to and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver this.

Petra Biberbach, chief executive of Planning Aid for Scotland, Princes Street, Edinburgh

Shooting is an over- privileged pursuit

We are often fed rhetoric from the shooting and hunting fraternities claiming that there is an ever growing interest in their pastimes. However, a new survey shatters this carefully cultivated image.

Of 18 outdoor pursuits examined by Natural England, participation in “fieldsports” ranked 17th – a tiny fraction ahead of swimming outdoors.

Twice as many people participated in “appreciating scenery from [their] car” and five times as many preferred to watch wildlife rather than shoot it or chase it with hounds.

There is no shame in engaging in a minority pursuit. However, shooting’s powerful political connections translate into millions of pounds annually in public subsidies. Moreover, shooters are allowed to get away with significant environmental damage. This includes the annual release of tons of spent lead shot, destructive grouse moor management techniques and, of course, the killing of vast number of foxes, stoats, weasels, corvids and other indigenous species that it brands pests and vermin.

Tod Bradbury, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent

Referee called it wrong for Paterson red card

Little surprise that the red card wrongly given to Callum Paterson was rescinded by the SFA.

However, this again brings into question the competence of whistler Willie Collum, who was standing only a few feet from the incident.

His ridiculous decision cost Hearts their 100 per cent win record, so the powers that be must surely decide that it is time for this controversial official to be put out to grass.

Over the years many of his decisions have been outrageous. Time to go Willie, we won’t shed any tears.

I also take it that the authorities will take no action against Robbie Neilson, who was just stating the facts, in his post-match interview.

Alun Thomas, Sinclair Close, Edinburgh

Why not scrap Festival fireworks display?

The public seem to want to change the fireworks display at the end of the Festival to a Friday or Saturday evening.

Here’s an idea – don’t have it at all! Think of the money that would be saved and there would be no disruption to traffic and no disturbance to the wildlife on the Castle Rock.

Mrs Sylvia Wilson, Maxwell Street, Edinburgh

Rent control may harm private investment

There is much to be commended about the Scottish Government’s drive to create a more secure and sustainable private rented sector, but while Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for the new Private Tenancies Bill continue to focus on rent controls, there is a danger that the bigger opportunity will be missed.

Undoubtedly the biggest issue in housing is the critical lack of supply driven by low levels of housebuilding in Scotland. Measures to speed up developments by improving the planning system are to be welcomed, but could be undermined by misguided regulation of the rental sector.

Indeed, there is growing consensus, based on robust evidence including the Scottish Government’s own consultation, against the introduction of a system of rent controls as stifling investment and reducing supply still further.

That’s why the industry and tenant groups must continue to work with MSPs to ensure that the legislation does not have unintended consequences that make the current housing supply crisis worse by cutting off investment to Scotland’s PRS.

What’s needed is a wider reaching supply and tenure model appropriate for Scotland, which addresses the necessity for investment in rental properties as well as the needs of tenants across the income spectrum.

With the policy tools available to us, we have the opportunity to create a distinct model for others to follow.

Dr John Boyle, PRS 4 Scotland, Maritime Street, Edinburgh