Stirling initiative receives prestigious planning award

date04 July 2014

A Stirlingshire project has been recognised for its innovative approach to local engagement and decision making with an Award for Planning Excellence from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which was officially presented on Monday 23 June.

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The Stirling Ecosystems Approach Project, which was designed and funded by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), explored the application of an sustainable approach to land use in the Carse of Stirling area, with a focus on ensuring that local stakeholders are more involved in the decision making process.

Judges from the RTPI were impressed by the way in which the project’s approach to looking at potential land management options identified, but effectively managed, inevitable tensions over land use across a range of issues, and was supported by a body of evidence.

Roger Owen, Head of Ecology for SEPA, who was a member of the project technical advisory group, said:

I am delighted to see that this project has received such recognition. This will help us to promote the ecosystems approach that was used to engage local people in decisions about land management.  The Scottish Government has taken keen interest in this project and we hope that many of the findings from the Carse of Stirling work will be applied more widely, possibly as part of the wider Scottish Land Use Strategy."

The project brought together a local stakeholder panel, comprising land managers, local businesses, local residents and recreation interests, to investigate the benefits (or ‘ecosystem services’) which people could derive from the natural landscape and how these could change in the future.  The findings were then used to develop a vision and action plan for the Carse of Stirling project area.

Implementation of the project was carried out by environmental consultants LUC and STAR Development Group over an 18 month period from February 2012 to October 2013.  The stakeholder panel has since become constituted as a group in its own right - the Carse of Stirling Partnership - which is now working to realise the land use action plan it developed.

Roddy Fairley, Programme Manager for Biodiversity from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), who chaired the project management group said:

This award is well deserved particularly by the consultants who did a superb job in implementing a programme of work to inform and engage stakeholders in difficult discussions.  The local stakeholders also deserve considerable recognition for devoting their time, energy and enthusiasm to taking forward the project which would not have been possible without them."

John Armstrong, Chair of the Carse of Stirling Partnership, said:

The project gave us the opportunity to bring varied stakeholders together in a process supported by facilitators.  Despite differing initial views, we were able to find a common vision.  We’re keen that through the new partnership, we’ll continue to work together to drive forward the action plan, and hope that many who live or work in the Carse of Stirling will get involved."

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Notes to editors

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2014 

Scottish Natural Heritage: www.snh.org.uk