Advice for developers

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. A risk of 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. For significant development proposals, such as major or national developments, pre-application discussions with SEPA and the planning authority are strongly encouraged if flood risk may be an issue.

Where there is a potential risk of flooding, developers should support planning applications with a flood risk assessment in line with our Technical guidance for stakeholders on flood risk assessment. We have also produced an online Flood Risk Assessment checklist to help consultants ensure that all the necessary information is submitted. We recommend that the checklist is included with every flood risk assessment submitted to the planning authority in support of a planning application.

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:

We are currently undertaking a review of our development management guidance which is due for completion in 2015/2016.