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Advice for planning authorities

How and when to consult SEPA

We are keen to speak with planning authorities early in planning processes, to ensure that we can make an effective contribution to the delivery of high quality development in the right places.

We have produced the following guidance on how and when we should be consulted:

Development plans

We place the highest priority on our involvement in the development plan process.  Working with planning authorities from the beginning ensures we can help development plans achieve the Scottish Government’s national planning outcomes through a truly plan-led system. Development plan authorities are strongly advised to contact us at the earliest opportunity to discuss how we can contribute to the plan preparation and the issues we need to see addressed. Links to our development plan guidance are provided below:

Requirements and recommendations for development plans by topic area:

The second River Basin Management Plan was published in December 2015. Its interactive water environment hub contains mapped data and individual water body sheets in addition to providing details of the overall classification of the Scotland's water bodies and the pressures affecting them. Data shown is the 2014 classification.

We have prepared guidance on undertaking a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) to inform the consideration of flood risk early in the development plan process. The findings of the SFRA should be used to inform the consideration of alternative spatial strategies.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process provides an important opportunity to ensure that the potential environmental impacts of the development plan, including those relating to flood risk, are identified and addressed. We have prepared Standing Advice for Responsible Authorities on SEA Scoping which will assist you in identifying significant effects early on in the assessment process and prior to the submission of a formal scoping response. The findings of the SFRA should be used to provide evidence and baseline information as part of this process.

Development management

We welcome early pre-application discussions on larger or more complex developments to help identify opportunities, constraints and solutions.

Developments that are likely to pose a lower risk to the environment are covered by our Flood Risk Standing Advice and other Standing Advice. We also provide separate Standing Advice for Planning Authorities on Extractive Waste Management Plan Consultations submitted under the Management of Extractive Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2010.

Guidance on how and when to consult us on development proposals can be found in Advice for planning authorities on how and when to consult SEPA. To assist, we have developed a checklist for planning authorities to use when consulting us on planning applications. Guidance on SEPA’s role in the development management process outlines how we undertake our advisory role  to  ensure a proactive integrated approach to our engagement.

A key area for our engagement at the development management stage relates to our duty to provide flood risk advice to planning authorities under Section 72 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. Specific advice for planning authorities relating to flood risk is available in our Flood risk information note for planning authorities. We have recently published development management guidance on flood risk which provides a summary of our requirements and recommendations for development proposals that may impact on flood risk. Further technical detail on how these are applied and the reasoning behind our position can be found in the land use planning background paper on flood risk. A planning information note on proposed development protected by a flood protection scheme explains how we consider development in these areas.

We have a number of guidance notes on our other roles and responsibilities in the planning process as they relate to environmental issues and certain types of development.  These are listed below.

Topic based guidance:

Guidance based on specific types of development: