Planning Circular 2/2017: Town and country planning (fees for monitoring surface coal mining sites) (Scotland) regulations 2017

Planning circular 2/2017 providing guidance on the regulations relating to the fees for monitoring surface coal mining.

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Preliminary considerations

5. When considering monitoring requirements planning authorities should consider what internal staffing resources are necessary to enable effective monitoring to take place. For example, considering whether; adapting existing staffing structures; widening the responsibilities of existing staff; employing new staff (if possible); or appointing consultants, is merited or necessary.

6. Planning authorities are not restricted from undertaking joint monitoring requirements, with a team potentially operating across different local authority boundaries. On the other hand, if a planning authority intends to appoint a private consultant to undertake their monitoring requirements, it important to note that the fees to be recovered from the operator would be capped at the level set out in the 2017 Regulations.

7. Operators and local communities are entitled to expect their local planning authority to carry out their monitoring duties to a good standard. To achieve this planning authorities should consider the following good practice recommendations:

  • those undertaking monitoring requirements should have the appropriate expertise and experience,
  • a review of the range of skills needed to undertake effective monitoring should be undertaken regularly,
  • senior staff should visit problem sites and be involved in discussions with operators,
  • planning committee members should be given opportunities to accompany monitoring officers to give them an appreciation of operational issues and what is involved in monitoring work,
  • consider whether adequate supporting staff resources are available (e.g. clerical and technical),
  • specialist advice may need to be sought to monitor more complex issues such as noise, hydrology or landscape impacts,
  • adequate powers should be delegated to officers to act promptly on any breaches of planning control.

8. Early consideration can also be given to how best to involve local communities in the monitoring process. The need for doing so is likely to vary from site to site and be influenced by the presence of both formal and informal community groups, representing the interests of those living nearby, which may include established site liaison groups. The intention should be for local groups and individuals to be aware of opportunities to contribute to the monitoring process. Local involvement can foster positive relationships between communities and operators, which may be further enhanced by providing opportunities for a community representative to attend site visits.


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