Scottish Executive accused of “power grab” by environmental campaigners.

Environmentalists have accused the Scottish Executive of a “naked power grab” after leaked documents revealed that proposed new planning rules that would make it more difficult to challenge controversial developments such as windfarms, the Aberdeen bypass or nuclear power stations.

The new, ‘streamlined’ process would mean that if a project were deemed to be of “national strategic importance” they would be earmarked as being part of the National Planning Framework. Objections could then only be made on the basis of location and detail, rather than to the basic requirement of the scheme. Although the scheme is backed by local business people, many other groups are dismayed.

Speaking about the Aberdeen bypass, MSP Shiona Baird told the Aberdeen Press and Journal: "The executive can basically ignore what other people are saying completely, yet those who have to live in the community and suffer like the Camphill community will not have any redress whatsoever. It is like we don't exist. This is not the way to engage people in what is supposed to be a democratic process."

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "In the hands of a future executive it could be used to drive through new nuclear power stations against the overwhelming opposition of the Scottish people and regardless of any environmental impact.”

"This is an unprecedented power grab which will centralise planning, reduce public involvement and allow the imposition of unpopular, socially unjust and environmentally unsustainable projects."

The Scottish Executive have declined to comment on the leaked document.