Planning policy and guidance: Scotland
The following policy and guidance are most relevant to planning and biodiversity in Scotland:
- National Planning Framework for Scotland 3 (NPF3)
- Scottish Planning Policy (2014)
- Getting the best from our land – A land use strategy for Scotland (2011)
- Planning Advice Note 60 (PAN60): Planning for Natural Heritage (2000)
- Local Development Plans
National Planning Framework for Scotland 3 (2014)
The National Planning Framework for Scotland 3 (NPF3) (2014) is described as the spatial expression of Government’s Economic Strategy and covers the next 20 – 30 years. The Framework is expected to be taken into account by planning authorities when preparing strategic and local development plans. NPF3 includes a series of outcomes. One of these is ‘Outcome 3: A natural resilient place’ which includes a commitment to respect, enhance and make responsible use of natural assets.
Scottish Planning Policy (2014)
Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) sets out how nationally important planning matters should be addressed. It contains policies on the development of local plans, development design and the determination of planning applications. It sits alongside the National Planning Framework for Scotland 3 and builds upon Outcome 3 by setting out how this should be achieved on the ground. Among the key principles that relate to the Natural Environment are that the planning system should:
- Conserve and enhance protected sites and species, taking account of the need to maintain healthy ecosystems and work with the natural processes which provide important services to communities;
- Protect and enhance ancient semi-natural woodland as an important and irreplaceable resource, together with other native or long-established woods, hedgerows and individual trees with high nature conservation or landscape value; and
- Seek benefits for biodiversity from new development where possible, including the restoration of degraded habitats and the avoidance of further fragmentation or isolation of habitats.
The Scottish Planning Policy includes policies on protected sites, protected species, areas of wild land and woodland and makes clear that planning permission should be refused where the nature or scale of proposed development would have an unacceptable impact on the natural environment. It also sets out the criteria for the designation of local nature conservation sites.
Getting the best from our land – A land use strategy for Scotland (2011)
‘Getting the best from our land – A land use strategy for Scotland (2011)’ sits alongside the ‘National Planning Framework for Scotland 3’ and ‘Scottish Planning Policy’. The land-use strategy essentially re-states the importance of biodiversity protection which is set out in the other two documents.
Planning Advice Note 60 (PAN60): Planning for Natural Heritage (2000, updated 2008)
Planning Advisory Note 60 (PAN60) provides advice about how the land use planning system should contribute to the conservation and enhancement of Scotland’s natural environment. It describes the planning system in Scotland as it was at the time when it was published and makes reference to the way that Natural Heritage is considered in both plan-making and decision-making.
When considering policies and proposals in local development plans and when deciding planning applications that may affect nature conservation, PAN60 indicates that local planning authorities in Scotland could:
- Engage in pre-application discussions with the developer, Scottish Natural Heritage and voluntary conservation bodies;
- Develop a control checklist to ensure that the approach to decision-making in matters relating to natural heritage is organised and consistent;
- Use conditions and legal agreements to prevent, minimise or mitigate adverse effects on Natural Heritage, or even deliver positive benefits;
For each development proposal, the local planning anuthority should try to determine:
- Whether or not there is a natural heritage interest and, if so, what that interest is;
- What effects – positive as well as negative – the development would be likely to have on natural heritage;
- The significance of these effects in relation to development plan objectives for the natural heritage of the area affected;
- If the development is potentially damaging, whether it can be made acceptable by the use of planning conditions and/or agreements; and
- The opportunities to enhance natural heritage which the development might offer.
Local Development Plans
Local Development Plans must be produced by every local planning authority in Scotland. These Plans include policies relating to biodiversity and nature conservation, which may be supported by additional policies contained with Supplementary Guidance. The polices in the Local Development Plans generally reflect and build on the planning policy guidance set out in the National Planning Framework for Scotland. Typical policies make reference to protecting conserving and where possible enhancing the natural environment, including biodiversity.
These Local Development Plans provide the detailed policies on matters, including nature conservation, against which any development proposal will be tested.