Saturday, 24 October 2009

One Calm Day

Ardersier Village

A typical view?

Captured by a bored mum waiting for offspring near Culloden Academy; it was almost as if they were posing!

Summer's end

Changes in the climate

You may find these extracts from the Met Office and the defra web sites of interest:

"To understand climate change, it’s important to recognise the difference between weather and climate. Weather is the temperature, precipitation (rain, hail, sleet and snow) and wind, which change hour by hour and day by day. Climate is the average weather and the nature of its variations that we experience over time.

Human activities, like burning coal, oil and gas, have led to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing an enhanced greenhouse effect and extra warming.

As a result, over the past century there has been an underlying increase in average temperatures which is continuing. Globally, the ten hottest years on record have all been since 1997.

What does it mean for the world?

Climate change will mean warmer temperatures which will change rainfall patterns, cause snow and ice to melt and affect the intensity of extreme weather such as storms and heatwaves. We have already begun to experience some of these impacts and many other knock-on effects:

  • Water and food — around 1.5 billion people currently live in water-stressed regions. Climate change and population growth could increase this to seven billion by the 2050s, intensifying competition for this life-giving resource. Some areas could become more fertile; others more barren. This may lead to regional food shortages, mass migration and poverty. Malnutrition is expected to increase in developing countries. Source: IPCC 2007.
  • Health — our well-being will be threatened by more frequent and intense heatwaves, floods, storms, wildfires and droughts. However, deaths from cold-related diseases will reduce. Patterns of disease will also change, with wide areas of the world at risk from major diseases, such as Dengue.
  • Environment — coastal areas will experience more flooding from rising sea-levels, especially large river deltas which tend to be highly populated, e.g. the Nile Delta. Meanwhile, some areas will attract more tourism as their climates alter.
  • Ecosystems — Amazonia is already damaged by deforestation. Climate change may magnify this impact by increasing the risk from fire. Other precious areas of high biodiversity, such as in South Africa, may see major losses of species as habitat conditions change. Around the world, some animals and plants may benefit and flourish in a changing climate, while others are likely to suffer.
What does it mean for the UK?

Even across relatively small areas like the UK, climate change is expected to cause marked regional differences in temperature and rainfall by the end of the 21st century.

How our climate has changed

  1. Central England temperatures have increased by 1 °C since 1970s.
  2. Total summer rainfall has decreased in most parts of the UK.
  3. Sea surface temperature around the UK has risen by about 0.7 °C, over the past three decades.
  4. The UK has experienced nine of the 10 warmest years on record since 1990.
  5. Sea-levels around the UK have risen 10 cm since 1900.

How our climate may change

  1. Under a medium emissions scenario, the annual average temperature rise by the end of the century is very likely to be more than 2 °C and less than 5 °C. The central estimate is 3.5 °C.
  2. Temperatures are expected to rise across the UK with more warming in summer than in winter. The summer average temperature rise in the south-east is very likely to be above 2 °C and below 6.4 °C. The central estimate is 4 °C.
  3. The urban heat island effect already warms central London by more than 10 °C on some nights. Increased urbanisation and release of waste heat would increase this still further — on top of the effects of global warming.
  4. As summers become warmer and drier droughts are more likely, particularly in the south-east. There may also be more intense downpours of summer rainfall, which could lead to flash flooding.
  5. The extreme heatwave of 2003, where average summer temperatures were 2 °C higher than normal, led to more than 2,000 additional deaths in the UK. Such hot summers could happen every other year by the 2040s.
  6. Heavier winter precipitation is expected to become more frequent, potentially causing more flooding.
  7. Sea-level across the UK is projected to rise between 11 and 76 cm by the end of the century. In the worst case, rises of up to 1.9 m are possible but highly unlikely.
Will we need to Adapt?

We all need to look at our vulnerability to the changing climate. 'Vulnerability' can be defined as being open to or at risk of damage.

Changing our behaviour to respond to the impacts of climate change is known as 'adaptation'.

Adapting to climate change is a process. That's why it needs to be built in to our normal planning and risk management processes, whether in business, government or any other sphere. That way, we can make sustainable adaptation decisions, at the right time and in order to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs.

To learn more about adaptation visit the defra web site page

Inequality Rules; OK?

A couple of particularly conflicting views which caught my attention:

Last night's 'News Quiz' quoted Lord Griffiths, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, as saying (in defence of the bonus payments to be paid to staff) :

"Inequality is a way of achieving greater prosperity for all"

Contrast this with the conclusion reached by one of the author's of the book:

"The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better"

The Authors of the book, Richard Wilkinson, a professor of medical epidemiology at Nottingham University, and Kate Pickett, a lecturer in epidemiology at York University, were recently interviewed on BBC Radio's regular Sociology slot, 'Thinking Aloud'.

The Interviewer wound up the first part of the programme's interviews by addressing Dr Pickett and asking:

So, “The primary attack of any political party which wants to do something about the long list of social problems that you itemize is really to do something fundamental about the gross disparities between the top and the bottom in terms of income and wealth” To which Ms Pickett simply replied, "Yes"

Listen here

For the a more 'local' viewpoint try, "Blether with Brian", "The word on the street"

Interesting Sources of Information

APT members subscribe to a range of on-line newsletters which are useful sources of information.

Some Law firms provide Alerts on a range of issues including Planning and APTTreas has just brought this to my attention:

Dundas and Wilson Law Firm have some interesting items in their 'publications' section links, here , here and here

However, for any lay person interested in legal matters their publications section may prove something of a treasurer trove.

A little 'treasure' from our Treasurer it seems!

A Tale of Two Web Sites

The MET Office has:

"...made changes to our web site which aim to refresh the website with a more contemporary and usable look and feel and to standardise navigation to make content easier to find."

Contrast this with an item that appeared in yesterday's Mail on line:

"The Whitehall department responsible for farming has splashed out redesigning its website because the brown colour scheme was deemed too 'agriculturally focused'.

Read more:

A case of bad judgement or bad PR?

[DEFRA web site article was originally bought to APTSec's attention via a member's copy of the Soil Association Newsletter - please see note below]

This service is provided by the Soil Association press office to keep you up-to-date with the latest news on organic food & farming, GM and other relevant issues. We use a range of sources, including the main national daily newspapers in England, Wales and Scotland plus key websites and farming publications. You can read past issues of Today's News online

If you would like to sign-up to receive this service please email Amy Leech at If you want to unsubscribe, please email

The Soil Association is the UK's leading environmental charity campaigning for planet-friendly food and farming. Help us in our fight for a healthier planet - for more information on the benefits of being a member of the Soil Association visit our website

Friday, 23 October 2009

Transport Scotland to attend Community Council Meeting



Hosted by Croy Community Council, and to help you understand the HwLDP proposals, a representative from the Planning Dept. will give a presentation and answer questions.

Transport Scotland will be attending this meeting.

Essential factors for locating a business

Cushman & Wakefield has conducted a 'European Cities Monitor' on Europe’s major business cities for the last 20 years. Since 1990 the survey has provided an overview of the perceptions that corporate occupiers have about cities across Europe and their relative attractiveness.

As part of the survey, companies were asked to think about which factors they consider in deciding where to locate their business and the relative importance of these factors.

For 2009 these factors were, in diminishing order of importance:
  • Easy access to markets, customers or clients
  • Availability of qualified staff
  • The quality of telecommunications
  • Transport links with other cities and internationally
  • Cost of staff
  • Value for money of office space
  • The climate governments create for business through tax policies or financial incentives
  • Availability of office space
  • Languages spoken
  • Ease of travelling around within the city
  • The quality of life for employees
  • Freedom from pollution
More at the link here and thanks to 'Under the Raedar' for posting an interesting item about the survey.

How would settlements in the Highlands rate when assessed against these factors?

" economic hammering..."

From the Planning Daily on line Newsletter:

"This week, the Institute for Public Policy Research North gave a particularly grim warning that the 1980s recession's casualties are bearing the brunt again. Areas where unemployment was already high have entered another period of decline. The credit crunch has stalled an untold number of housing-led regeneration schemes. As yet, there is no sign of the cavalry on the horizon. The pessimists think that any kind of a bounce back will not happen until 2012"

Click on the link above to view full item

"...howls of protest from high street retailers."

From the Architecture Scotland Newsletter:

"Planning permission has been granted for a colossal £1.2bn retail and leisure development at Glasgow Harbour, to howls of protest from high street retailers.

Stores including House of Fraser, Debenhams and John Lewis are up in arms at Peel Holdings plans which will dramatically reshape retail provision in the west end, with knock on consequences for the city centre"

Common themes are definitely emerging!

What did those attending the Black Isle Ward Forum say on 10th September 2009 click through here and view another nifty map on the HwLDP site.

Common themes emerging?

What did people in the North, West and Central Sutherland Ward Forum say about their area, development, HwLDP etc on the 26th September 2009 click here to view a rather nifty map posted on the HwLDP blog.

Local Transport Strategy

The consultation on The Highland Council’s local transport strategy is now underway and members of the public have until Friday 11 December to respond to this important document which sets out how the transport system will be developed in the Highland area over the next three years. Following a pre-consultation last winter with public meetings throughout the Highlands, the draft local transport strategy has been finalised.

The consultation document details the key issues that influence the provision of transport and explains the main challenges. A series of objectives have been developed along with policies designed to assist in achieving these objectives. The Council’s programme for investment in transport is also set out in the document. Key to delivering progress will be partnership working with other agencies.

[extract from HC web pages]

"The A96 corridor between Inverness and Nairn is recognised as a growth corridor, with new development established in the last few years, as well as provision for substantial growth over forthcoming years, expecting to increase the population by 30,000 by 2037. Access to Inverness Airport is also along the A96 approximately nine miles east of Inverness."

[extract from the strategy document]

So, according to the transport strategy, the population of the A96 corridor is expected to increase by 30,000 by 2037?

Basic Planning

Planning is seen as vital to the future development of Scotland. It often has to balance competing and conflicting demands to ensure that land is used in the best way for every one's long-term interest. It is recognised that poorly-designed developments in unsuitable places can damage the quality of life in a community. The quality, location and environmental impact of any new development therefore always needs careful consideration.

  • set the land use framework
  • encourage good development
  • protect our natural and built heritage
  • create vibrant communities
  • develop sustainable places
For more information visit the planning pages on the Scottish Government web site

Can it be both?

In answer to a question posed at last night's meeting in Nairn, the Development Plans Manager stated that Nairn was seen as both a dormitory town and a thriving local centre.

However national policy changes are being proposed with respect to the sustainability section of the Consolidated SPP document (where, if you like, all the planning 'rule books' are being popped into one easy to access volume) to take account of the implications to planning policy of the recent Climate Change Act:

"Development plans should promote a pattern of development which reduces the need to travel..."

Since the findings of the SOLUTIONS report (see earlier post) indicate that socioeconomic factors are always uppermost in people's minds - so basically they will travel if it is in their interest to do so regardless of the design of place they live in - then surely any development proposed must be based on a careful analysis of the needs of all those living or wishing to live in the area to minimise the requirement to travel and to make sure employment, schools, health care, amenity etc are within easy access by walking, cycling or efficient public transport.

This analysis has not been undertaken, but to my mind should form part of the better place making strategy that the Government is so keen to encourage. That is why genuinely working with the public is so important; to really get to know communities; who lives in a place and what do they really need? We can then start to plan for a properly sustainable future.

May become a showstopper...

Right at the end of the joint meeting held by 3 Nairn Community Councils last night I heard the words:

"May become a showstopper" uttered by the Development Plans Manager in relation to the road system around Nairn - provision of bypass?

I did take extensive notes otherwise, but this was at the end of the meeting; can anyone else fill in the blanks here?

Monday, 19 October 2009

At what cost?

The Scottish Government web site carries the following announcement:

"An internationally acclaimed designer, will be working with Scottish projects on plans for low-carbon communities.

Andres Duany, who drew up designs for rebuilding work in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, will run design workshops, known as 'charrettes', for projects in Dumfries, Aberdeen and Fife.

The projects are taking part in a government initiative set up to encourage the development of new sustainable communities where residents can enjoy a high quality of life while reducing their carbon footprint."


Having participated in a Charrette, as a member of the public, APTSec (though not APTSec then as no APT) did not find it a helpful experience. I e mailed my misgivings about the charrette process to the Chief Planner who wrote back to me on Wednesday 18/04/2007:

"I note your concerns on the interpretation of the city vision document and your disenchantment with the charette."

The Brain is in neutral


I have had a little time away from the desk and I must confess that I am having difficulty in shifting the APTSec brain out of a neutral gear. It is hoped that normal service will be resumed soon.

A few suggestions for blog posts or some questions on the subject of the Highland wide Plan at this point would be very helpful.

I look forward to hearing from you