Planning and development: Enhancing biodiversity

Planners and developers have a big part to play in helping to protect and enhance Scotland’s biodiversity

Scotland’s planning system and development have an important contribution to make towards addressing the global biodiversity crisis.  This is reflected in the Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), which sets out new requirements for development to deliver positive effects, primarily under Policy 3. 

This states that all development will contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity, including where relevant restoring degraded habitats. Proposals for local development will include appropriate measures to conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity in accordance with national and local guidance. 

For national and major developments, or those subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), proposals will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that it will conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity, including nature networks, so they are in a demonstrably better state than without intervention.  Only when actions result in biodiversity being left in a better state than before development are positive effects secured.

How development can enhance biodiversity

Our Developing with Nature guidance has been prepared, in discussion with Scottish Government, to support local development applications.  It sets out a number of common measures to enhance biodiversity that are widely applicable.  It should be used alongside the local development plan and any guidance the Planning Authority may have prepared. 

For national, major and EIA developments, more detailed assessment and more ambitious measures are likely to be required.  The Scottish Government is developing separate guidance on Policy 3 to support delivery of biodiversity enhancement from these larger scale developments. In the meantime, aspects of our Developing with Nature guidance can usefully inform how to take account of biodiversity in development, including ensuring future management and monitoring maintains the biodiversity enhancements desired in the long term. 

Further work

These are new requirements and we will update this web page as we learn more about their application. 

The Scottish Government’s Delivery Programme includes research exploring options for developing a biodiversity metric or other tool, specifically for use in Scotland.

We are exploring potential approaches for delivering biodiversity enhancement off-site that may contribute to national or regional scale initiatives.

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