AFTER several marathon sessions the Scottish Parliament recently passed the Planning Bill.

While there is much to be welcomed in the new legislation, for me it represents a missed opportunity.

There are some positive changes to planning on the way. I was pleased to win Parliament’s backing for my amendment which will ensure that considerations around air quality will have far greater weight in future planning decisions.

There continues to be an unacceptable number of communities facing dangerous levels of air pollution which kills an estimated 2,500 lives in Scotland every year.

If we are to really get to grips with this issue, we must make sure tackling air pollution is at the heart of how we design our communities.

Of course, there are many contributing factors to air pollution and one of major ones is traffic.

Unfortunately, the SNP, Tories and Lib Dems joined forces to defeat my Safer Streets bill which would have made it easier and cheaper for other local authorities to replicate the wide network of 20mph roads in the Clackmannanshire Council area.

The current situation is a postcode lottery, where people in some parts of the country have access to cleaner and safer streets than others.

Emissions from agriculture, which have sadly increased in recent years, can also have a big impact on air quality.

One such source is the Cambusview Poultry Farm, which the council acknowledges has the potential to exceed emissions limits for particulate matter.

The combination of ammonia from farms and emissions from vehicles creates tiny particles which can seriously damage the lungs.

The Scottish Government has promised its updated clean air strategy will include a renewed focus on emissions from agriculture.

I am pleased that strategy will now play a greater role when decisions are made about developing our communities. We all deserve, and have the right to, breathe clean fresh air.

However, while I’m happy with the improvements with regards to air quality, the Bill as a whole leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite promising developments in the early stages of the Bill’s development the SNP and the Tories teamed up to strip out progressive amendments and block improvements to communities right to appeal. The current system is unforgivably lopsided in favour of developers.

At the moment if a planning application is turned down then the developer has the right to appeal directly to the Scottish Government, even if the planning committee has unanimously rejected their proposals.

No such right exists for residents concerned about the impact that a proposal might have on their lives.

This Bill was a chance to redress that obvious imbalance, but instead the SNP and Tories decided to preserve a rigged system which keeps power in the hands of ministers and values profit more than people.

This Bill has shown that the SNP are willing to join forces with the Tories to protect the interests of wealthy lobbyists and to keep power in the hands of ministers.

Communities are rightly frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard in politics and these votes will do little to quell their anger.