Planning and Environmental Appeals: annual review 2020 to 2021

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

How We Work

Under the procedures that apply to planning appeals it is the reporter who decides what further procedure, if any, is necessary once the grounds of appeal, response by the planning authority and representations by interested parties have been received. For this reason it is our practice to allocate appeals at an early stage. The reporter considers the submissions made by the various parties to the appeal and decides whether any further procedure is necessary. If a site inspection is to take place the reporter decides whether this will take place on an accompanied or unaccompanied basis. In more complex cases a pre-examination meeting may be held before the reporter takes a final view on how the appeal should be conducted. If hearing or inquiry sessions are needed these will normally be restricted to the issues or matters specified by the reporter.

Each appeal has a dedicated caseworker who is responsible for the management of the appeal documentation, issues letters on behalf of the reporter, and acts as a point of contact for parties to the appeal.

Development plan examinations are supported by a specialist caseworker. Our practice is to appoint a lead reporter who has overall responsibility for the conduct of the examination. Depending on the number of unresolved representations one or more additional reporters may be appointed to assist with the examination.

Websites and Electronic Submissions of Appeals

For information about the work of DPEA, forms for submitting appeals, guidance on procedure, previous annual reviews, how to contact us, how to make a complaint or let us have feedback please go to our planning and environmental appeals pages on the Scottish Government website. Forms and guidance for submitting appeals are also available at

We publish the vast majority of documentation for all cases that we handle on our dedicated casework website,, and all documentation in live appeals is available on the site. The aim of the website is to increase openness and improve the transparency of the appeals process. All papers that are in front of the decision maker are available for all parties or members of the public to view via this website.

There is also a registered users option on the website that gives access to the DPEA Portal which works in much the same way but also allows users to set up alerts for new cases, new documents, new decisions etc. Please refer to our guides on how to use the website and the DPEA Portal, our case file publication protocol, and our policy on publication and data protection.

This year the proportion of appeals submitted electronically, either through the online eDevelopment portal or by email was 94%, an increase of 8% over the previous year.

Webcasting and Virtual Sessions

The webcasting of pre-examination meetings, hearings and inquiries has continued in 2020/21. Covid related restrictions have driven the use of virtual procedures with DPEA being particularly well-placed to adopt this approach on the back of webcasting practice over the last few years. This has at times led to challenges for both DPEA staff and participants however virtual meetings have been an invaluable resource this year, and a tool we will continue to use going forward.

We have provided coverage of procedures in 45 cases, including the introduction of virtual site inspections which has helped the DPEA to continue to process cases. We have had 14,166 visitors to the site who have collectively watched 4285 hours of webcasts. As expected, the numbers of people watching live has increased by 295%, with several thousand people able to follow events as they happened.

Webcasting will continue to be an important part of the service provided by the DPEA and we will endeavor to try and cover as many events as possible.

Electronic Working

For a number of years reporters have been working with electronic files rather than using paper files when dealing with written submissions. It is also now the norm rather than the exception that reporters will conduct hearings and inquiries using electronic files. Feedback from reporters in this regard continues to be positive. We will continue to look at ways to ensure that parties attending hearing or inquiry sessions can better follow the proceedings.



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