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Advice for developers

We are currently updating all our guidance to bring it in line with National Planning Framework (NPF4). Guidance issued after 13 February has been updated. Whilst any guidance issued before this date will still contain relevant and useful information, you should be aware that some parts may be out of date. As a result, our planning consultation responses may not match the information set out in this guidance.

We are keen to work with developers to deliver high quality development that contributes to sustainable development. Early consideration of environmental issues including flood risk can help speed up the planning process and minimise risks.

To assist in the planning process we aim to be as clear as possible on the types of issues we would want to see addressed and the related information we would need in support of a development proposal.

Planning and environmental regulation

When consulted on a planning application for a development, elements of which may also be regulated by us, we consider the acceptability of the development in land use terms. This involves consideration of the sensitivity of the receiving environment, including adjacent land uses and potential regulation. For most types of development it is for developers to decide when they submit their separate applications for planning permission and authorisation.

In line with the Scottish Government’s Planning Advice Note 51, we need certain information about a development to be submitted with the planning application in order to be able to provide a view on whether the associated activity is potentially capable of being consented. The information we require in order to determine whether a process associated with a planning application can be authorised is different, but complementary, to the information we require to fulfil our role as a statutory consultee in the planning process.

Pre-application engagement provides an opportunity to resolve potential issues regarding the consentability of a development proposal prior to the planning application stage and to set out to applicants the level and type of information we require.  We have prepared planning guidance in relation to SEPA regulated sites and processes which provides further advice on the types of information we would need at the planning stage.

Flood risk

Early consideration should be given to potential flood risk issues when considering a site for development because flooding can have important implications for the siting, design and in some cases the overall principle of development. A useful starting point in identifying potential flood risk is SEPA’s flood maps. These can be used to identify whether a site sits within an area that is at risk of flooding and therefore where further assessment is likely to be required before progressing with the development of a site. We have produced guidance to accompany the maps, which will help ensure new development avoids areas at flood risk and will be of use to anyone interested in the development of a site that is in or close to places that could flood.

Environmental impact assessment

More significant development proposals may need to be informed by an environmental impact assessment (EIA). SEPA is a consultation authority for EIA. Our scoping responses for different types of development outline the issues that we would want to see considered and provide direction on how they should be assessed and presented. We will provide an individual response to all scoping requests but our standard responses for certain types of development provide a useful overview of the environmental impacts we may require to be addressed through the EIA. Links to our standard scoping responses for the following development types are provided below:

Guidance notes

Guidance notes are also available on our roles and responsibilities in the planning process as they relate to environmental issues and certain types of development. These are listed below as topic based guidance:

We also provide guidance for the following types of development: