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What planning authorities can do for Scotland's landscapes

Planning authorities have a pivotal role in looking after Scotland's landscapes.  Uniquely placed to put national and local policies into practice within Scotland's communities, planning authorities act for the social and economic benefit of their area, as well as protecting and enhancing the nature and landscapes.  Although often considered to be opposing objectives, these aims are compatible, in both rural and urban areas.  This is because high quality environments - our landscapes and townscapes - are essential to people's health and wellbeing and Scotland's economy.

By guiding decisions on the location, siting and design of new development and proactively planning for change, the planning system has a strong influence on the nature of change and appearance of the landscape.

Planning authorities play a vital role in sustaining high quality landscapes which contribute to national and regional identity, add to the quality of many people's lives and provide attractive settings which help to promote social and economic well being.  Action to achieve these outcomes can take many forms.

Under the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 external site   all public bodies, including planning authorities, have a duty to further the conservation of biodiversity, natural beauty and amenity, and this should be reflected in development plans and development management decisions.

SNH is committed to finding ways of increasing the availability of landscape skills in local authorities. See our work on landscape skills and capacity building for more information.

Hay, Shetland İNoel Fojut/Historic Scotland.  For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Action for Landscape

Here are some of the ways in which planning authorities can carry out their landscape role.

Last updated on Tuesday 11th April 2017 at 13:29 PM. Click here to comment on this page