On appeal from: [2011] CSIH 59.

The appellant challenged the adequacy of the reasons given by the Scottish Ministers for their decision to approve Fife Council’s policies for development in St Andrews, expressing concern that implementation of those policies would cause irreversible damage to the landscape setting of the town. In her initial objection she referred to a study which asserted that St Andrews was “at its landscape capacity”, and asserted that the Ministers did not give adequate reasons in response to this part of her objection.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. A structure plan is concerned with policy and general proposals, and the duty of the Ministers is to give reasons for approving or rejecting it, not to justify the proposals set out in it which is the duty of the planning authority at an earlier stage. As long as the reasons given are proper, adequate and intelligible and deal with the substantive points raised, short reasons may suffice. The duty to give reasons must be assessed with a sense of proportion – the point is to not impose an unreasonable burden on the Ministers. When a plethora of objections is received it is reasonable to group them into broad categories and respond to them on that basis.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 21
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII