Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA): annual review 2022 to 2023

Planning and Environmental Appeals Division's annual review of its performance for 2022 to 2023.

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. This year there was a rise in cases received to 625, from 577 in the previous year. An almost doubling of wayleave application cases, notified application cases and appeals relating to advertisements were significant contributors to this increase.

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 and consents to display advertisements, amongst others. DPEA also deals with appeals from decisions made by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) 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 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, Architecture and Regeneration Division (PARD) in taking forward planning reform, designed to further improve the planning system. We have also continued to have 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; and Workplace Car Park Levies.

Outreach Work

We also engage with outside bodies and other Scottish Government divisions to promote greater understanding of their and our needs. These activities can at times lead to improvements in service on both sides of the equation. This year our engagement activities with outside bodies have included:

  • Speaking at Scottish Renewables Conference
  • Speaking at Brodies Live
  • Discussion on Elected Member training following council elections
  • Liaison with other appellate jurisdictions in UK and Ireland
  • Liaison with Law Society of Scotland
  • Liaison with Heads of Planning Scotland on introduction of Gatecheck Reviews
  • A training event for City of Edinburgh Council on a wide range of administration aspects regarding written submission appeals
  • Four meetings with planning authorities discussing arrangements for the submission of their proposed development plans during the review year
  • The first of the many intended meetings of our administrative and professional staff with planning authorities on the administrative arrangements around Gatecheck Reviews
  • Meetings with SEPA concerning aspects of our work on environmental appeals

Our engagement with other Scottish Government divisions has included:

  • regular ongoing meetings with PARD’s development plan team on the new Gatecheck process
  • regular meetings with Energy Consents Unit management regarding forward work programming of Electricity Act cases
  • a catch-up meeting with the Community Asset Transfer team

Our Aims And Values

DPEA aims to embody the core values of the planning service in Scotland as set out in Scottish Planning Policy (in force 2014, withdrawn February 2023) 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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