MacKay Hannah

Scotland's New Planning Act: The Act, Its Consequences and Next Steps Explained


John McNairney

Chief Planner, Scottish Government

Over the last thirty years John has practiced as a chartered town planner in local government, planning consultancy and, most recently, in central government. 

He joined the Scottish Office at devolution initially leading a range of planning and transport policy developments and subsequently implementation of the Scottish Executive’s Freedom of Information legislation. 

In 2005 he was appointed Assistant Chief Planner supporting development of the Planning (Scotland) Act and subsequently its implementation, the Delivering Planning Reform Agenda and the development of Scotland’s ePlanning programme. 

He was appointed Chief Planner in July 2012 following Jim Mackinnon’s retirement from Scottish Government.


Petra Biberbach

Chief Executive, PAS

Petra Biberbach is Chief Executive of award-winning national charity, PAS. With a career spanning public, private and third sector, Petra brings a wealth of expertise to the post in the fields of planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, community engagement and research.

Petra is serving her second term as a board member of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and was elected as Convenor of the Planning Committee. She is the Vice Chair of LINK Group and a non-executive director at Zero Waste Scotland. Petra served on the Independent Review of the Scottish Planning System.

Petra has one daughter and one son. She enjoys golf, gardening, cycling, art and still singing along to Leonard Cohen!

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Craig McLaren

National Director, Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland

Craig is Director of Scotland and Ireland in the Royal Town Planning Institute. In this role he leads the Institute’s policy, public affairs and member services work in Scotland and Ireland. He is also responsible the RTPI’s approaches to professional standards including ethics, conduct and discipline, and, is the lead Director for its work in the English Regions.

Prior to this Craig set up and managed the Scottish Centre for Regeneration in Scottish Government and its agency Communities Scotland, as its Director. He has also been Chief Executive of the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF); Scottish Planning Policy Officer with the RTPI; and a planner and economic development officer for the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Craig is a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute and an Academician of the Institute of Urbanism. He has also been appointed by Scottish Ministers to chair the National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum and previously sat on the Boards of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Resilient Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Greenspace Scotland and the Jim Boyack Memorial Trust.

RTPIScotland RTPIIreland

Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director, Stefano Smith Planning

Stefano is a commercial and pragmatic development planner with a strong customer focus. Stefano has nearly 30 years of UK professional experience of managing multi-disciplinary teams within a planning, environmental, design and engineering consultancy.

He has extensive experience in providing development planning and project management services in the environment, infrastructure, energy, commercial, industrial, housing and mixed-use sectors. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI) with experience in statutory planning (including approvals & consents and expert witness), sustainability, regeneration, master planning & urban design, consultation & engagement strategies and tools & development economics. He is a seasoned practitioner in stakeholder engagement and the development of communication strategies, as well as the use of appraisal and assessment tools.

Stefano has successfully advised, negotiated, and delivered complex land development and infrastructure projects of ranging sizes. He has worked in both the private and public sectors, particularly pertaining to the principles and practice of the economics of urban regeneration, land development, sustainability, urban design, complex environmental assessment, and project management.


Irene Beautyman

Planning for Place Programme Manager, Improvement Service

Irene Beautyman combines her 30 years as a planner with her experience as a trained facilitator to lead the Planning for Place Programme at the Local Government Improvement Service.

Her key role at the Improvement Service is to forge closer links between everyone involved in making successful places that enabling wellbeing. Her work has particular emphasis in place-based approaches and working with spatial planning, community planning and public health. She is a proponent of the Place Principle and a member of the Place Standard Tool Implementation Group.

She is working closely with Scotland’s Public Health Reform team on the “Health and Place Early Adopter”. It will test and refine new ways of working between health and planning practitioners to deliver a whole systems approach to Scotland’s Public Health Priorities.

With the launch of the Place Network she facilitates higher levels of collaboration and awareness raising around the repositioning of place as one of the cornerstones of meeting Scotland’s National Performance Framework requirements.

Irene also runs the Planning Skills Programme sharing skills, knowledge and behaviours to maximise spatial planning’s proactive contribution to creating great places and improving outcomes. She works closely with Heads of Planning Scotland, the Key Agencies and Scottish Government.

Irene is Chair of PAS (Planning Aid Scotland) and Senior Vice Convenor of Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland Executive.
ImprovServ IreneBeautyman

Jeremy Sainsbury OBE FRICS

Director, Natural Power

Jeremy has over 30 years’ experience in the renewable energy sector. He has been instrumental in the growth of international renewable energy consultancy Natural Power - the company employed just seven people when he joined as a Director, and now has almost 370 staff across 14 offices in 4 countries. He is responsible for policy and regulation issues. Natural Power work in wind, PV, hydro, biomass and renewable heat. They permit sites, carry out SI works, design sites, manage construction, carry our asset management and operations. Their control center is the largest in the UK with the exception of National Grid.

A serving Director of Energy UK, chairing their Renewable Energy Committee and a member of the Generation Committee; he works closely with The Scottish Government on policy for the renewable sector. He regularly works with Scottish Ministers on industry working groups. Jeremy was a founder member of Scottish Renewables, serving as chairman, vice chairman and chair of the grid group. He served on the SR board from 2000-2019. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to renewable energy and to the community of Dumfries and Galloway.


Christina Cox

Planning and Building Standards Manager, Stirling Council

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The conference had a wide range of speakers covering different aspects of likely new planning legislative procedures. I took something from all the speakers. It was a very interesting conference - both beneficial and informative. All speakers spoke well and contributed to a whole range of matters from different perspectives with their specific fields of expertise. My main interests were presented and debated well.

Charles Johnston, Scottish Borders Council,
Delegate at Planning in Scotland Conference 2017

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