GovTech Catalyst funding secured

22 January 2019

An innovative project that will help improve planning around Scotland’s most valuable natural sites has secured funding of up to £1.25 million.

NatureScot has been granted the award through the UK-wide GovTech Catalyst Challenge to develop a new online service for protected areas.

The service will make use of previously under-used data on protected areas to provide immediate, clear information on planning to land managers, developers and the public.

Users will be able to get the most relevant advice based on the specific location and development envisaged, with emerging technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence able to predict potential impacts on protected areas.

For example, a developer interested in a new project could use the portal to see the sensitivities or opportunities in a particular site, as well as any actions which may be needed to avoid damage to important wildlife areas.

The service will offer advice to ensure land managers and developers design proposals which will not compromise, and preferably enhance, the features of interest on protected areas. 

The project should help users to better assess whether to continue to invest to progress their proposal at an earlier stage before seeking formal planning consent.

NatureScot will be working with digital innovation companies to develop the online service over the next 18 months, and it is hoped that the service will ultimately be of use to partners across the public sector.