Planning and development

Development must be planned with care if we’re to continue to reap economic and social rewards from Scotland’s natural environment.

Looking after the natural environment – one of Scotland’s greatest assets – is an investment for the future. Our nature and landscapes provide enjoyment and support healthy lives, and are the foundations of tourism, the food and drink industry, and marine aquaculture. We strongly support renewable energy in place of fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

We support a plan-led approach to development. It provides certainty to developers and communities, and is the best route to achieving the right development in the right place. Scotland has had a planning system on land for more than 60 years and now has a marine planning system for the first time. This will guide the location of all marine uses and activities, minimise conflicts of interest, and ensure healthy seas.

We’re here to help planners and developers secure positive outcomes. We offer practical support for sustainable growth in Scotland by advising on the effects of plans, policies and development proposals on our natural heritage. We believe that engaging early on a proposal, before key decisions are made, delivers the best outcomes for people and nature.

New developments of all kinds can add positively to Scotland’s nature and landscapes, if planned and designed with care. Knowing how a development may impact on nature can guide its design and ensure that it’s sited in the right place. We offer advice on site selection, how to assess impacts, and the impacts of proposals.

Scottish Natural Heritage has a statutory role in environmental assessment and we help others in their roles by sharing data, guidance and advice. Environmental assessment covers all statutory processes to identify, assess and mitigate impacts on the environment.


To discuss a specific plan or proposal, please contact the relevant local Scottish Natural Heritage area office.

Press enquiries about our involvement in specific applications should go to our Media Relations Team.

For more general inquiries about SNH's approach to planning and development please contact