Our role in development planning and management

Scottish Natural Heritage is committed to helping the Scottish Government and planning authorities plan for and deliver sustainable economic growth.

We provide advice on the effects of plans, policies and development proposals on Scotland’s natural heritage. This includes our landscape and seascape, biodiversity and geodiversity as well as people’s enjoyment of the outdoors.

Find out how planners and developers view Scotland’s planning system in our three-minute film.


Development planning

The cornerstones of the planning system are:

Development plans are crucial to the planning system’s success.

As part of development planning, we:

Development management

The aim of development management is to ensure that the sustainable economic growth set out by the development plan is achieved on the ground.

Our main role in development management is to provide advice on how proposals might affect Scotland’s natural heritage. It lets us work with planners and developers to guide development so that it enhances Scotland’s nature and landscapes rather than damages them.

SNH must be consulted on:

We are also the licensing authority for certain protected species issues that may arise as a result of development proposals. Learn more about licensing.

We do not determine planning applications or other development consents. This is the role of the relevant consenting authority (planning authority or Scottish Government). It will take account of our advice and make decisions about development proposals on the basis of relevant plans and policies.

Guidance for development planning

Green Networks in Development Planning

Integrated Habitat Networks: New Tools for Development Planning

A selection of Green Network planning case studies

Integrated Habitat Network data use in masterplanning: case studies

Guidance for development management

National and Major Developments: An Agency Joint Statement on Pre-application Engagement

Agreement on roles in advisory casework between Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish National Park Authorities

Guidance for SNH staff on engaging with the Planning System

Guidance for SNH staff on identifying natural heritage issues of national interest in development proposals