“We must all realise that the housing and construction industry in Scotland plays a central role in our future prosperity. But I see road blocks that must be sorted out more easily.”
He raised the issue of planning and hopes that Scotland’s policy-makers paid heed to
“I would like the Scottish Government to change the planning procedure for appeals of refused planning applications. The current situation is that applications are called in by Scottish ministers, as was Donald Trump’s application, then a reporter is appointed, who hears the evidence and then it is put to ministers who determine whether the application is refused or approved.
“If you appeal a refusal against an application, it is a different procedure. A reporter is appointed who is completely independent, so he makes the judgement call and issues the determination whether accepted or rejected. There is no ministerial input whatsoever in that process, to me that is inherently wrong.
“Planning is never black and white, it is never 100% against. It’s in the balance and you have to weigh up the benefits carefully. Donald Trump was approved in a SSSI because it was such a vast amount of money and declared a good thing for the Scottish economy. If you add up all of the refusals handed out on an annual basis against people who are appealing for their own planning applications, then it would add up to a vast amount of money. These applications are being rejected without any ministerial input, right in the middle of one of the deepest recessions in history. It costs a lot of money to take an application to appeal, so developers do not do this lightly. It costs them a load of money, employing the people to take that forward. When you speak to ministers they say, ‘oh well, we’re not allowed to get involved in that because the procedure is that the reporter is appointed and he makes his decision’. I’m saying to the Scottish Government: why don’t you change the procedure! Take a motion to the Scottish Parliament and say that due to the dire economic state and the recession we are going to change this and ministers will have the final say on all of these applications that come before the reporter. ” Mr Muir said ministers should be able to make a judgement call based on the economics and the creation of jobs.
“I think that would be hugely important for Scotland. There’s a lack of understanding that if Scottish businesses are not allowed to make a profit then they cannot employ the staff, pay tax on the salaries, and a business cannot pay tax on its profit. How often have you seen, either councils or politicians with their big shopping lists of things they are going to do with new schools, free school dinners, free travel and no prescription charges. It’s a big spend list but never on the flip side of that are they saying how are we going to support local businesses, or help them thrive and make profit in order to fund the shopping list that the public sector has.”