Planning Advice Note 51: planning, environmental protection and regulation

Planning Advice Note (PAN) 51, (revised in 2006) supports the existing policy on the role of the planning system in relation to the environmental protection regimes.

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1. The environment and land of Scotland provide the basis for sustaining life, economic development and social well-being. A range of specific environmental protection regimes are designed to safeguard the natural and built environment. They operate alongside the land use planning system which aims to ensure that development takes place in suitable locations and is sustainable, while also providing protection from inappropriate development.

2. The central purpose of this Planning Advice Note ( PAN) is to support the existing policy on the role of the planning system in relation to the environmental protection regimes. This is expressed in SPP1 as:

"Planning decisions should always be made on planning grounds and in the public interest. The planning system should not be used to secure objectives that are more properly achieved under other legislation. The grant of planning permission does not remove the need to seek other statutory consents nor does it imply that these consents will be forthcoming. Even where legal or administrative measures outwith the planning system may exist for controlling a particular activity, this can still be a consideration to which weight is given in reaching a planning decision. If a consideration is material in planning terms, it must be taken into account in reaching a decision. For example, the planning authority should have regard to the impact of a proposal on air or water quality although the regulation of emissions or discharges will fall to be dealt with under other legislation." (paragraph 57 of SPP1)

3. This PAN also summarises the statutory responsibilities of the environmental protection bodies, as well as informing these bodies about the planning system. To minimise any overlap or duplication of controls it is essential that planning authorities and the protection agencies understand each other's role and work together so that the controls are applied in a complementary way. This is important because many environmental protection decisions are based on quantitative standards whereas planning decisions have to take into account a much wider range of material considerations and the weight to be accorded them. Details of the environmental protection regimes referred to in this PAN are summarised in the Annex. The regimes include:

  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Protection of the Water Environment
  • Drinking Water Quality - public and private water supplies
  • Contaminated Land
  • Radioactive Substances
  • Statutory Nuisance including Noise
  • Litter
  • Light
  • Local Air Quality Management
  • Environmental Noise

4. More specific guidance has been issued on several environmental topics:

Waste - National Planning Policy Guideline ( NPPG) 10 - Planning and Waste Management (March 1996) (under Review) and PAN 63 - Waste Management Planning (Feb 2002).

Minerals - Planning Advice Note ( PAN ) 50 and its annexes, issued from October 1996, deal with the specialist subject of Controlling the Environmental Effects of Surface Mineral Workings.

Noise - PAN 56 (1999) - Planning and Noise.

Environmental Impact Assessment - PAN 58 (1999), deals with requirements for EIAs to accompany specified types of applications.

Air Quality - Advice on air quality and land use planning is contained in Local Air Quality Management - Revised Policy Guidance (Scottish Executive February 2003)

This PAN does not provide a definitive statement of the statutory frameworks nor does it offer an authoritative interpretation of the legislation.

The arrangements explained in this revised PAN reflect major changes which have come into force since the original PAN was published in March 1997. It also takes forward the relevant recommendations from the research report "The Interaction Between Land Use Planning and Environmental Regulation" ( SE 2004)-Environmental Resource Management Ltd ( ERM) which has been a catalyst for this review.



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