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Geology and minerals guidance

Rocks, and landforms from the last Ice Age, are an important part of Scotland's nature and landscapes.

These rocks and landforms can be lost through activities ranging from large scale quarrying to ground levelling and small scale excavation. They can also become obscured, through burial under new roads, tracks, pipelines, housing, landfill, landscaping or excavation debris, or by safety netting, trees or coastal and river flood defences. 

Many of our most vulnerable rock exposures are within disused quarries. The after use of disused quarries can lead to the loss of rock exposure valuable for research and education. The disposal of waste is a common and damaging after use. However, more often than not, a compromise can be reached, whereby an old quarry can be partially infilled, allowing the retention of part of the rock face for educational and scientific use.  Forethought, consultation and careful planning can help avoid such problems.

To avoid obscuring or damage, houses, pipelines, roads or other structures should be sited sympathetically with respect to local rocks and landforms, avoiding key features. When building taller structures such as houses, it is important not to 'fragment' an area of interest by obscuring the line of site between individual rock outcrops or landform features. Landscaping and particularly tree planting should also avoid fragmenting areas of interest, or obscuring or altering landforms. Planted trees or shrubs should be at least 10m from outcrops. Where safety netting or flood defences are necessary, it is often possible to minimise damage to rock and landform features through early consultation.

What we can do to help

We can provide advice and guidance on assessing the impacts of your project or development on the rocks, landforms and mineral resources, particularly where these are within protected areas. As a starting point, get in touch with your local Scottish Natural Heritage office for help in assessing the environmental impacts of your project or development.

You can also explore our section about Safeguarding geodiversity which includes information about the Pressures on geodiversity  including those resulting from changes in land use. 

We have published reports on the following topics which you may find helpful:


Last updated on Friday 12th February 2016 at 11:52 AM. Click here to comment on this page