Council's implementation of the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

You asked a series of questions regarding the implementation of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.


The answer to your question is that the Scottish Government provided guidance to Councils regarding the transitional arrangements in relation to National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) in the form of a Chief Planner letter published on 8 February 2023.

Most of the information you have requested is available from letter-transitional-arrangements-for-national-planning-framework-4//. Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

In relation to your specific questions on requirements for Councils to i) implement NPF4 with regard to planning permission in principle applications under consideration when NPF4 came into force or ii) apply NPF4 policy only to applications received after NPF4 came into force, or iii) leave it to individual Councils to determine how they address the policy changes; this is not for Scottish Government instruction or guidance, but is a statutory requirement.

On its adoption and publication on 13 February 2023, and following the commencement of section 13 of the 2019 Planning Act, NPF4 took on development plan status alongside local development plans.

Planning decisions should be made in accordance with the development plan which is in place at the time the decision is made, and so NPF4 has required to be treated as part of the development plan in all planning decisions from 13 February 2023. An assessment of the development plan conformity must be included in all decision notices.

In relation to process, the planning authority must interpret and implement relevant planning legislation and guidance as it deems appropriate given the circumstances of each case, and ensure that the provisions of the planning system are applied properly. Planning legislation requires that planning applications are determined in accordance with the development plan for the area unless material considerations indicate otherwise. It is a matter for each decision-maker to consider how NPF4 and its new status will influence individual decisions on cases which were live at the time of adoption, including whether any further process is considered necessary before completing a decision, in the circumstances of each case.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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