Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Enforcement of Planning Control

Planning permission is required for most development that takes place in Scotland, with the exception of some minor works. Sometimes, however, developers or householders undertake work without planning permission or fail to keep to the permission they have been given.

The Council, as the planning authority, has powers to investigate unauthorised developments and take appropriate remedial action where necessary. Breaches of planning control can take a number of forms, including:

  • work being carried out without planning permission or other consent
  • an unauthorised change of use of land or buildings
  • carrying out work which is not in line with the approved plans or consent
  • carrying out work which is not in line with conditions attached to a permission or consent
  • carrying out without consent of work to trees that are protected by a planning condition or a Tree Preservation Order or are in a conservation area.

If you consider that someone is carrying out development which may not have had planning permission, you should contact the Development Management team. Please select 'Report a Planning Breach' from the left hand side of this page or by the following method.

Preliminary enquiries can be made by any of the following means:

  • telephone 01856 873535 ext 2504;
  • by e-mail; or
  • by attending the Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall.

For preliminary enquiries and complaints to be followed up they must be confirmed by letter to the Planning and Environmental Control Officer, Orkney Islands Council, Development Management, Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY, or by e-mail.

For all preliminary enquiries, whether by letter or e-mail, the following information is essential:

  • the address of the property concerned
  • details of the suspected breach of planning control, with times and dates if relevant
  • a contact name and address for the informant
  • an e-mail address if available or if the complaint is submitted electronically
  • how the breach affects you
  • whether the enquiry is to be treated confidentially

Any complaints received in this way will be investigated with the name of the complainant kept confidential.

When the Council investigates a breach, an assessment is made to determine what action, if any, is necessary. The Council will usually attempt to remedy unauthorised breaches through negotiation, rather than immediate statutory action. This may involve the submission of a retrospective application or a requirement to take steps to remedy specific problems with a development.

In cases where the breach is serious and has a detrimental impact on the character or amenity of an area or building, the Council can serve an Enforcement Notice.

Where the breach is particularly severe a Stop Notice may be served in conjunction with the Enforcement Notice, requiring immediate cessation of the unauthorised activities.

Failure to comply with these Notices constitutes a criminal offence, and the Council can report the matter to the Procurator Fiscal.

The Planning Enforcement Charter for Orkney Islands Council is available to download from the ‘Related Downloads’ section on the left hand side. The Charter explains what the Council can and cannot do, the procedures of the planning control system and the standards of service that can be expected when enquiries are made regarding unauthorised development.

The planning authority is required to keep a public available register of enforcement notices. This register contains information on the address of the property to which it relates, a description of the breach of planning control, the type of notice, date the notice was issued/served, date the notice was originally complied with. The register does not identify complainants. This document is available to download from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.