Chris Gardner, head of planning consultancy at Baird Lumsden and DM Hall Chartered Surveyors
If a gas or electricity provider decided to put its charges up by more than 700%, there would be a national outcry.
If a supermarket proposed such an increase, it would be commercial suicide. If a local businessman tried it, his customers would disappear like snow off a dyke.
But that is exactly what the Scottish planning authorities are proposing - and what the Holyrood government will rubber stamp this autumn.
And the customers - the land owners and developers who have to submit planning applications - will have no choice but to stump up.
The increases have emerged from a consultation which began in March this year and which has just closed at the end of June.
As a result, a Scottish Statutory Instrument will be laid before parliament this autumn, bringing the new regulations irrevocably into force.
The original rationale for upping the fees on planning applications was understandable, and was generally accepted within the development community.
Fees in Scotland had consistently been significantly lower than those in England and Wales for some time and Scottish authorities had been casting envious glances south of the border for some considerable time.
They argued, with justification, that the income from fees was nowhere close to matching the costs councils had to incur to meet their obligations under the reforms contained in the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006.
An Audit Scotland report pointed out that, in the six years to 2009/10, the overall gap between income and expenditure had increased in real terms from £6.7 million to £20 million. In straitened economic times, this was no longer acceptable.
So far, so fair. But prior to the consultation document, most interested parties had assumed that any increase would be in the region of 20%, following research undertaken by Arup in 2009 which recommended an increase of this scale.
In fact, some of the proposed increases dramatically exceed that.
Take, for instance, an application for a business industrial development of 10,000 square feet. Under the current regime, the application fee would be £15,950. Under the new rules, that would soar to £89,000, an increase of more than 550%.
A change of use application remains at a £319 fixed fee, regardless of the size of the building. But a change of land use under the new proposals will cost £500 for up to 0.1 of a hectare, then £200 for each succeeding 0.1 of a hectare.
So a developer or land owner wanting to change the use of a one hectare plot would face a fee of £2300 instead of £319 - an increase of a staggering 721%.
The maximum fee will be set at £100,000. This will only be paid by the largest type of development, but it will come on top of all the other upfront costs - such as land remediation, access, infrastructure - associated with this scale of venture.
It is a curious manoeuvre from a government ostensibly committed to development - especially when the application, even after all the costs associated with it, still faces the risk of rejection.
The justification for this radical rethink of the fee structure is that it is part and parcel of the reform of the whole planning system, and that the quid pro quo will be a streamlined, faster and more responsive decision making process.
There is no doubt that Planning Authorities are under resourced, chronically in some cases, but what these proposals have meant in practice is that the debate has revolved around what level of fee increase can be sustained rather than the improvements these measures should bring to the planning system.
The development industry has indicated that they would be happy to pay a higher rate for a system which delivered what it promised, within a timescale laid down by statute.
But as the latest Scottish Government statistics show there has been little discernible improvement in the quality of service since the process of reform started and it is difficult to see, within the present planning culture, what actually will change.
It is perfectly reasonable for all organisations, not just planning authorities, to charge the rate for the job. But in doing so there must be some guarantee that increased fees will lead to better resourcing and expertise within the public sector to deliver a proportionally better service.
Chris Gardner is head of planning consultancy at Baird Lumsden and DM Hall Chartered Surveyors