PLANNING campaigners have accused the Scottish Government of “failing communities” after it voted against opposition plans to let communities appeal against new developments.

The Greens and Labour tabled amendments to the Planning Bill that would have allowed locals to challenge planning permissions.

READ MORE: The SNP have ignored the public voice in rejecting change to Planning Bill

But these fell at a key Holyrood meeting yesterday when Tory MSPs Graham Simpson and Alexander Stewart abstained, giving the government a majority against the change.

Ahead of the session of the Local Government and Communities Committee, Planning Minister Kevin Stewart wrote that “we need to be careful” about seeing additional red tape as “some means to stop unpopular planning decisions”.

READ MORE: Scots overwhelmingly in favour of doing more to save scenic landscapes

He went on: “Planners are trained to be objective, using rational judgement and evidence to inform decisions about development and use of land that are in the long-term public interest.”

Reacting yesterday, Claire Symonds of campaign group Planning Democracy said: “This is an unhappy day for democracy and justice in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is failing communities by perpetuating a long-standing injustice. Despite its promises to deliver community empowerment, the reality is it continues to put big business and development at any cost before community aspirations for their areas and the environment.”

The decision came as the committee considered stage two of the bill.

Writing in The National last month, history expert Professor Tom Devine said community protests over planned housing developments at Culloden (pictured) and Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs, proved the need for reform. He said: “Few people in Scotland ever have to confront Scotland’s unjust planning laws.

"When they do, however, they soon realise the dice is firmly loaded in favour of big business and house builders with economic muscle.”

Calling the bill a chance to “lance this boil” of imbalanced power, he went on: “Scotland is in dire need of a planning system that enables people to come together to debate how places should change or remain undisturbed. It is about time the Scottish Government acted on behalf of the people of Scotland.”

Yesterday, appeal rights backer John Mulholland, of Symington Community Council in South Ayrshire, commented: “We have been fighting for an equal right of appeal since the beginning of the planning review.

“The government has given so many excuses as to why it doesn’t want to give appeal rights to communities. The reality is they prefer to give big business power over community rights.”