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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Scottish Water (Annual Report and Accounts 2021-22), Subordinate Legislation


Subordinate Legislation

Electricity (Applications for Consent and Variation of Consent) (Fees) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 (SSI 2022/310)

The Convener

Agenda item 3 is consideration of a piece of subordinate legislation. As the instrument has been laid under the negative procedure, its provisions will come into force unless the Parliament agrees a motion to annul it. At this stage, no motions to annul have been lodged.

Do members wish to make any comments on the instrument?

Mark Ruskell

It is clear that the regulations are about resourcing the applications system in a better way, and I note the move to full cost recovery. The question is: what will they do to performance? According to evidence that the industry has given the committee, it can take seven years for an application to be determined. The whole system is very slow, whether it be applications going to councils, going to the planning division of planning or going through the system of environmental appeals in the Scottish Government. Will these regulations make a significant difference to those timescales for determination? We are in a climate emergency, and we need business certainty. Applications need to be approved or rejected on a reasonable timescale, so will the regulations properly resource the decision-making structure and process?

Does anyone else have any comments?

Fiona Hyslop

Mr Ruskell makes a fair point, but it is clear that the new national planning framework 4 is partly about improving timescales for approvals. As for expenses, that is a question that we could come back to after we wait and see whether the regulations improve matters. Of course, they will not be the only factor. We know that we have to move towards recovering the costs for supporting planning applications—it is just a sensible thing to do—but we will see the proof only after the regulations come into effect, and we can monitor them together with the changes to regulations in NPF4.

The Convener

These are sensible regulations to put through, but there is nothing to stop us writing to the minister, saying that Mr Ruskell has raised these concerns, and seeing if we get a response. We could then monitor the issue in future, as the deputy convener suggests, to see whether the regulations have had an effect. Alerting the minister would be the way forward, and of course, the points are now in the Official Report.

Mark Ruskell

I have no concerns about supporting the Scottish statutory instrument; the question is more about what it is trying to achieve and what the outcome will be. I expect that the outcome will be better timescales for determination, but I would like to know from the Government whether that will actually happen.

The Convener

If the committee is happy for me to do so, I will write to the minister to relay those points. My substantial question, though, is: are members happy not to make any further recommendations—or, indeed, any written recommendations—regarding the instrument and happy for it to go through?

Members indicated agreement.

That concludes the public part of the meeting. We now move into private session.

11:22 Meeting continued in private until 12:05.