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Why the new NPF4 can deliver Scotland’s environmental ambitions

Our CEO Derek Robertson on the implications of Scotland’s newly adopted National Planning Framework (NPF4).


Blog, Partnerships, Solutions


14 February 2023
Derek RobertsonThis week, the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) has come into play, embedding the climate and nature emergencies across planning policy and placing a stronger emphasis than ever before on the tangible actions that can address these twin crises.
In this piece, our CEO Derek Robertson shares his thoughts on the implications of the new framework and the role of the Central Scotland Green Network within it.

As a National Development within NPF4, the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) is a key example of how actions on climate and nature can be delivered in order to reach the government’s ambitious targets to reduce decline in Scotland’s biodiversity, and to achieve net zero emissions. For the Green Action Trust – as the delivery partner responsible for driving forward the CSGN – the implementation of NPF4 is a cornerstone moment in Scotland’s national mission towards these targets.

The Central Scotland Green Network is steered by a partnership group of over 15 environmental NGOs and agencies, meaning that it is uniquely placed to draw on vast expertise as it delivers natural climate solutions, creates liveable places, promotes health and wellbeing, and supports a green recovery across Central Scotland.

Indeed, having been established as a National Development since the implementation of NPF2 in 2009, these priorities have been central to the work of the CSGN for over a decade. Its work spans across 19 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, covering 87% of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas, and tackles environmental inequality where it is needed most. This places it among the largest environmental projects of its kind in Europe,  improving the social, physical and cultural wellbeing of central Scotland, all through the lens of environmental restoration.

NPF4 is good news for Scotland’s urban and rural environment as it builds multifunctional nature-based solutions and green-blue infrastructure into planning considerations for all developments. The CSGN can continue delivering these priorities with weight applied to green networks and natural infrastructure. Just as importantly, the new planning framework will enable the CSGN to interlink with other National Developments, and to support the delivery of the new Nature Networks framework.

When we work together to enrich our environment, we can transform unproductive spaces into ones that open access to greenspace and restore and promote biodiversity – delivering huge value not just to the environment, but to the health and wellbeing of our society and the wider economy too.

All of this work means that the Central Scotland Green Network is so much more than just a ‘green initiative’. With the support of the Green Action Trust engaging the public, private and third sector to deliver the project across the Central Scotland area, the CSGN is at the heart of Scotland’s ambition to be a leader in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.

Derek Robertson is Chief Executive of the Green Action Trust, which is responsible for delivering the Central Scotland Green Network.

If you would like to find out more about our work to deliver the ambitions of the Central Scotland Green Network, please contact us.