On 1 June the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 came into force, along with a new Planning Circular containing guidance on the Regulations.

As with the Regulations which they replace, the 2011 Regulations implement the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive which was introduced by the European Community in 1988.  Essentially, the Regulations prescribe the types and categories of development which must be assessed for their environmental impact as part of the planning application process.

Since Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation was introduced in Scotland, with equivalent legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a growing body of case law from Europe as well as at home has had a significant effect on the planning system.

The Regulations require developers to provide Environmental Statements where their applications are likely to have significant environmental impacts; whether in relation to prescribed forms of development or to development over a certain size.  

A number of successful legal challenges to planning consents which fell within the scope of the EIA Regulations persuaded the Scottish Ministers to update the existing EIA Regulations.

The Scottish Government's new Circular provides a guide to understanding and interpreting the Regulations.