Key Agencies Group minutes: November 2020

Minutes from the Key Agencies Group meeting held on 26 November 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Katherine Lakeman – SEPA (KAG Chair)
  • Tim Moss – Architecture and Design Scotland (KAG Secretariat)
  • Denise Angus – Transport Scotland
  • Sophie Day – Scottish Water
  • David Faichney – Scottish Government
  • Helen Fallas – British Geological Survey
  • Kate Givan – Architecture and Design Scotland
  • Eimear Heavey – Sport Scotland
  • Sasha Laing – Forestry Scotland
  • Debbie Livingstone – Systra Transport Scotland
  • Jamie McCracken – Scottish Enterprise
  • Trevor Moffat – Planning Improvement Service
  • Fiona Rice – Nature Scot
  • Graham Saunders – Historic Environment Scotland
  • David Stewart – Scottish Land Commission
  • Robin Waddell – Forrestry Land Commission
  • David Wood – Planning Advice for Scotland


  • Katie Bain – Nature Scot
  • Irene Beautyman – Improvement Service
  • Ivan Clark – Nature Scot
  • Barbara Cummins - Historic Environment Scotland
  • Matt Lowther – NHS
  • Andrew McAllister Forestry and Land Commission
  • Morag Mackay – Transport Scotland
  • Jim MacDonald – Architecture and Design Scotland
  • Louise Morrall – Scottish Water
  • Katherine Pollard – Scottish Land Commission
  • Susan Rintoul – Improvement Service
  • Adele Shaw – Historic Environment Scotland

Items and actions

Forthcoming KAG meeting dates

  • 12th March 2021
  • 17th June 2021
  • 16th September 2021
  • 25th November 2021




Welcome, introductions and apologies



Planning Act and other updates (Chair)

  • High Level Planning Performance Group update
  • Development Planning Subgroup update
  • response to proposed changes to SPP update
  • Partners in Planning Conference feedback update



Sub-group updates

  • Skills & training / Partner in Planning (Fiona Rice, SNH)
  • Placemaking / Green Recovery (Katherine Lakeman, SEPA)
  • Environmental Evidence (Helen Fallas, BGS)
  • Vacant and Derelict Land (David Stewart, SLC)
  • PPF Reports & peer review (Alison Baisden, HES)
  • NPF 4 (Katherine Lakeman, SEPA/All)



Communication channels - Katherine Lakeman (SEPA)



Water Resilient Places - David Faichney,  Blue-Green Infrastructure, Flooding and water Industry Teams (Scottish Government)




  • Recap minutes

 1. Welcome, introduction and apologies

2. Planning Bill Act and Other Updates

High Level Planning Performance Group updates

Katherine Lakeman shared an update of the High Level group. They are due to meet very soon and more information will be circulated round when more information is available.

Development Planning Subgroup Update

Katherine shared an update of the draft procedures document. Since the September meeting, workshop sessions for all 3 groups were held in late September, outputs have been published and further workshops will continue with the aim to help write up a guidance document. The document will be light touch and a draft is planned by April. Another meeting due in January.

The aim is to embed place principle in process, thanks were given to Fiona Rice for contributions to SEA (strategic environmental assessment) process. Kate Givan leads the Scope and Content Group which will have outputs from this by February.

Graham Saunders asked what key themes were coming out of subgroups? Kate stated that support for place principle brought up, but how this translates into regulations is debated.

Response to Proposed changes to SPP Update

Katherine discussed the publication of the interim changes to SPP consultation response discussed in September meeting – a challenge on the principle in favour of sustainable development. KAG has submitted a response to the consultation which is now published online on the Scottish Government website.

Partners in Planning Conference Feedback Update

The Partners in Planning conference took place earlier in the month with a wider audience than ever before due to being online. Ivan Clark passed on positive feedback to organisers Trevor Moffat and Susan Rintoul. Videos to be uploaded imminently and members of KAG will be notified of this. 

3. Sub-group updates

Skills & training / Partner in Planning (Fiona Rice, Nature Scot)

No date confirmed for Partners in Planning event. Final form of Skills Development Scotland paper to be uploaded soon.

Placemaking / Green Recovery (Katherine Lakeman, SEPA)

Since last meeting the Green Recovery offer has led to many authorities. We are working with 6 councils, 2 of which we have place-based projects ongoing. With a further 4 potential projects to be ironed out where we can add value – a full list of projects has been circulated.

Stirling Council Forthside project contacted KAG to take forward project early in November with interest in a framework for site. In East Ayrshire, we identified sites in Kilmarnock and Stewarton where we believe a multi-agency approach can add most value to the project, key projects are:

  • Scottish Land Commission and Scottish Futures Trust collaborating in East Ayrshire and on a number of the above projects to scale up their work.
  • with Aberdeenshire Council, we are discussing a development in Peterhead and working with Scottish Futures Trust to take development forward. The aim is to develop an a place investment plan from this.
  • six different themes have emerged from the Levenmouth workshop, with positive feedback on the approach.
  • Orkney Council, Papdale housing development, Kirkwall: After initial discussions we are taking a light touch approach but have met with them to discuss green and blue infrastructure options.

A&DS agreed to act as a point of contact for the above projects as facilitators. Fiona Rice asked how the group decides on priorities for KAG input, Katherine explained it is agreed through the place making subgroup. Graham Saunders how we capture good practice from the subgroup and use this as evidence in later projects, Kate Givan explained the monitoring and evaluation process – while we capture feedback initially a fuller picture will be clearer later on in the process. Involving community engagement early in the process has been a key feature of all the projects.

Environmental Evidence (Helen Fallas, BGS)

Inputting evidence approaches to planning into the digital planning team. Submitted a report for the Environmental Evidence Group in September to positive feedback. Scottish Government published a report yesterday in collaboration with Scottish Land Commission, a fellow has been recruited to work with local authorities on regional land use partnerships and strategies. This will be shared more widely soon.

Helen Fallas proposed the subgroup continued to retain knowledge base gained. This was agreed by the group to continue through the LDP evaluation process.

Vacant and Derelict Land (David Stewart, SLC)

David Stewart updated the group on recommendations from taskforce in October have been published. Improved visibility to vacant land as a development opportunity proposed. Following piloted work in East Ayrshire, a date has been set for a presentation of the Vacant & Derelict Land Task Force Recommendations in an online workshop on the 8th of December at 11am, an invite was circulated after the meeting.

The workshop will begin with a short presentation by SLC on the key recommendations with a particular focus on implications and proposed roles for the Key Agencies.  This will be followed by a discussion with Heather Claridge from A&DS has kindly agreed to chair.

The future of the subgroup was discussed.

PPF Reports & peer review (Alison Baisden, HES)

Alison discussed the outcome of a recent KAG peer review workshop. All agencies met to peer review each others PPF report last month and Alison submitted an update following on from the meeting. Alison highlighted how the reports praised the new Green Recovery Offer work. A draft of the joint key agency statement will be circulated in a couple of weeks.

All PPF reports will be published to the Scottish Government website by the end of the year.

NPF 4 (Katherine Lakeman, SEPA/All)

Katherine Lakeman discussed the upcoming position statement on NPF4 by Scottish Government. Katherine spoke with Fiona Simpson on areas of joint working and the areas of engagement as NPF4 moves forward next year. HOPS have requested time to discuss NPF4 with KAG and the Scottish Government in January.

4. Communication Channels - Katherine Lakeman (SEPA)

Katherine Lakeman discussed whether we need to plan comms among key agencies, which would feed into our updated KAG Terms of Service. Tim Moss proposed a meeting between communications staff of larger agencies and their KAG representatives to discuss a joint communications plan. Graham Saunders outlined need to consider vision, our audience and thinking and volunteered with Tim to work on developing the communications for KAG.

5. Water Resilient Places - David Faichney, Blue-Green Infrastructure, Flooding and water Industry Teams (Scottish Government)

David Faichney gave a presentation on Water Resilient Places and the policy framework underpinning this improvement in surface water management. David is on secondment to Scottish Government and is writing a paper on the improvements needed to policy.

The new Programme for Government outlines need for an approach to transitioning to ‘blue-green cities’ and managing Scotland’s exposure to floods in the future. Surface water flooding is already a significant issue in Scotland – by 2080 394,000 properties will be exposed to surface water flooding.

Surface water flooding presents challenge because of its dispersed nature – with significant accellerated challenges in cities requiring a concerted effort across all sectors (not just flooding and drainage!). Flood Risk Management Scotland Act is comprehensive but more coastal focused. David proposes a 3-pronged approach: tackling surface water flooding, addressing climate change and delivering blue-green infrastructure places. The vision is centred around a place-based approach.

What can KAG do to help? David proposed recommendatons for establishing a ‘blue-green cities’ focus, KAG laying out a route map for achieving this and for Scotland more widely to channel support to actions that contribute to creating great places that are resilient to flooding and away from activities that add to flooding and draining burden. David stressed the importance of a placemaking approach.

David Faichney circulated the paper internally with KAG members. Fiona Rice asked about the role retrofitting would take. David said the easiest part would be to focus on new and public buildings, to understand the process. Prestwick retrofitting strategy is also being planned.

Timon Moss asked about decentralised approaches to storm water drainage and blue-green infrastructure. David highlighted a duel approach of carrot and sticks. Scottish Water are reviewing water charges for the future and how this could be done differently based on rateable value and how this could be refined to incentivise people to reduce numbers. Difficulty with retrofitting is that many measures are not as permanent as with new buildings and public works.

Helen Fallas asked about Davids thoughts on region-wide approaches through catchments and David believed they have broken new ground on natural flood management infrastructure. Whole-city approaches are more efficient, citing the natural infrastructure appproach in Utrecht as an exemplar for linking nature blue-green elements together.

Jamie McCracken noted the wider approaches being taken by Scottish Canals in this whole place approach – Ruchill site in particular. Katie Givan linked the work undergoing in Levenmouth and East Ayrshire as particularly requiring a holistic water management approach.

Katherine Lakeman proposed a condensed informal response to David report and invited all members to contribute.

6. AOB

To float actions over email.


Appendix 1 Action log from last meeting




Alasdair to circulate the email sent by NACWG to wider KAG and agree a meeting date for them to attend to share their work and potential connections to the work of KAG.

Alasdair McKenzie


All Agencies to begin the process of considering what are the key information/data requirements which they require during the review and assessment of land allocations or planning application assessment, to inform the further development of the Planning Gateway tool as being developed by the Scottish Government.



Alasdair to speak to Scottish Government about the Ryden research paper and findings and advise if further interim meeting to answer KAG questions on the recommendations of the paper is appropriate

Alasdair McKenzie


Sarah Shaw (HoPS) to enquire if Scottish Government attending next HoPS Development Management meeting and will advise KAG of their response to questions raised

Sarah Shaw


All to complete table as circulated by Anna regarding individual agency role, remit, functions and staff for Matt Lowther at Public Health Scotland to inform understanding of KAG input and role in planning system.



Katherine to circulate Service Level Agreement for Agencies to update as appropriate



Key Agencies Group minutes: November 2020


Group chair:

Group secretariat:

Twitter: @KeyAgenciesScot

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