Planning Circular 6/2013: development planning

Guidance on the legislative procedural requirements relating to the preparation of development plans in Scotland.

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100. All Scottish development plans require a 'Habitats Regulations Appraisal' ( HRA) in accordance with Part IVA (regulations 85A - E) of The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, as amended [19] . Part IVA of those regulations requires that, where a land use plan is likely to have a significant effect on a European site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), and is not directly connected with, or necessary to the management of, that site, the planning authority or SDPA as the case may be should make an 'Appropriate Assessment' of the implications for the site in view of that site's conservation objectives, before the plan is adopted or submitted to Ministers. The term 'Habitats Regulations Appraisal' is used here to encompass both the 'screening' process for determining whether an 'Appropriate Assessment' is required, as well as any 'Appropriate Assessment' under regulation 85B(1).

Definition of 'Land use Plan' (Regulation 85A)

101. For the purposes of regulation 85A of Part IVA, "land use plan" means:

  • Strategic Development Plans, or
  • Local Development Plans, or
  • Supplementary Guidance as provided for in Part 2 of the 1997 Act. (Paragraphs 135-150 give further information on Supplementary Guidance.)

Undertaking a Habitats Regulations Appraisal

102. Although not expressly required by the regulations, authorities undertaking a Habitats Regulations Appraisal should consult Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) when determining likely significant effect and before concluding that an Appropriate Assessment is not required. Where an Appropriate Assessment is required, the authority must consult SNH and should have regard to any representations they may make. Where, following that assessment, the authority cannot conclude that the plan would not adversely affect the integrity of any European site(s), the plan may not usually be adopted.

103. Further advice on the methodology of carrying out Habitats Regulations Appraisal can be obtained from SNH [20] .

Considerations of Overriding Public Interest

104. Where it cannot be concluded that a plan will not adversely affect the integrity of a European Site, the Habitats Regulations provide that it may only be adopted or approved where there are no alternative solutions and for imperative reasons of overriding public interest. Regulations 49 and 85C refer. In practice Scottish Ministers consider it unlikely that such circumstances would arise.


Email: Scottish Government Planning

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