Planning and Environmental Appeals: annual review 2020 to 2021

Planning and Environmental Appeals Division's annual review of its performance for 2020 to 2021.

What We Do

Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), a division of the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, considers and makes decisions and recommendations on a range of planning and environmental matters on behalf of Scottish Ministers. In 2020/21 DPEA received 437 cases, which is a decrease of 164 cases from 2019/20. The significant reduction from the previous year is due to significant reductions in enforcement cases and Wayleave applications. However, the number of planning appeals was very similar to 2019/20 - 18 of these appeals were against the non-determination of the planning application by the local planning authority.

A person appointed by Scottish Ministers (a reporter) decides most planning permission appeals. These are called 'delegated' appeals. In a small number of cases the reporter does not decide the appeal but submits a report with a recommendation to the Scottish Ministers. These are called 'non-delegated' or 'recalled' appeals. We also deal with a wide range of appeals from decisions of planning or local authorities on matters such as listed buildings, consents to display advertisements and storage of hazardous substances. DPEA also deals with appeals from decisions made by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in connection with the prevention and control of pollution, air and water quality, and waste management.

Other key areas of our work include the examination of strategic and local development plans, public local inquiries held in connection with applications for consent under the Electricity Act 1989, Transport and Works Act 2007 and compulsory purchase and other orders.

Through our practical knowledge and experience of the appeals system, we continue to provide input to the Planning and Architecture Division (PAD) in taking forward planning reform, designed to further improve the planning system. We have also been involved in discussions with other Scottish Government Divisions in relation to our role in new areas of work for DPEA including Low Emission Zones; Deposit Return Scheme Appeals; Forestry Appeals; and Workplace Car Park Levies.

Our Aims and Values

DPEA aims to embody the core values of the planning service in Scotland as set out in Scottish Planning Policy (2014) which include:

  • Focusing on outcomes, maximising benefits and balancing competing interests
  • Playing a key role in facilitating sustainable economic growth, particularly the creation of new jobs and the strengthening of economic capacity and resilience within communities
  • Ensuring development plans are up to date and relevant
  • Making decisions in a timely, transparent and fair way to provide a supportive business environment and engender public confidence in the system
  • Being inclusive, engaging all interests as early and effectively as possible
  • Being proportionate, only imposing conditions and obligations where necessary
  • Upholding the law and enforcing the terms of decisions made

Our Objectives

  • To reach sound decisions and recommendations
  • To carry out our business more efficiently
  • To ensure we use our resources to best effect and in a proportionate way
  • To continue to improve the experience of our customers



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