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Advice for the general public

We provide advice to planning authorities on development plans and planning applications that could have an impact on the environment. If you are submitting a planning application you can look at the advice for developers, which provides links to guidance on the types of issues you may need to consider.

Flood risk and planning

Our flood maps show you areas that may be affected by flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water now and in the future due to climate change. They are helpful to anyone who is interested in understanding the flood risk for an area or a potential new development. 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.

In a small number of cases, we may advise a planning authority against granting planning permission due to concerns related to flood risk that cannot be reasonably addressed. We may also set out conditions that would have to be met for planning permission to be granted. In reaching planning decisions the planning authority must balance all material considerations, including flood risk. Our role is to act as an independent advisor on flood risk. If a planning authority decides to grant planning permission where SEPA has raised concerns about flood risk, they must notify Scottish ministers who have the powers to ‘call-in’ the application for their determination.

There may be some forms of works you wish to undertake near water that do not require planning permission but may be regulated by us under the Water Environment and Water Services (Controlled Activities) Regulations 2011 (or ‘CAR Regulations’). In such circumstances we would recommend that you refer to our CAR Standing Advice on Flood Risk.