Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Local, Major and National Developments - The Hierarchy of Developments

The Categories:

All planning applications are allocated into one of the 3 categories within the hierarchy of development.  These are termed National, Major or Local Developments.

National Developments are those that are identified in the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF), which can be viewed at the Scottish Government's NPF website, available from 'Related Sites' to the left of the page.  This should inform you of what is the current, approved version of the NPF and show you how it relates to Orkney.

Major Developments are any that fall within one of the 9 following categories:

  • Any development that is included in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
  • Housing proposals of 50 dwellings or more, or housing sites of 2 hectares (ha) or more.
  • Business and general industrial, storage and distribution with a gross floorspace of 10,000m2 or a site of 2 ha or more.
  • Electricity generation where capacity is or exceeds 20 megawatts.
  • Waste management facilities where capacity is or exceeds 25,000 tonnes per annum, or for sludge treatment facilities where capacity of or exceeds 50 tonnes (wet weight) daily.
  • Transport and infrastructure where the road, railway, tramway, waterway, aqueduct or pipeline exceeding 8km in length.
  • Fish farming where the surface area of water covered is 2ha or more.
  • Mineral extraction where the site area is 2 ha or more.
  • Other development not falling wholly within one of the above classes where the gross floor space is or exceeds 5000m2 or a site area exceeding 2ha.

Local Developments are all proposals which do not meet the criteria for a National or Major Development.  These will in fact constitute the majority of planning applications submitted in Orkney.

See full details of the hierarchy of development at the Office of Public Sector Information website, available from 'Related Sites' section of this page.


Statutory Pre-Application Consultation Requirements for National and Major Developments: 

Although the Council have always encouraged pre-application discussions and continue to do so for all types of applications, there is a statutory requirement for a Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) to be carried out for all applications for National and Major Developments.

If an applicant is unsure whether their development requires a PAC there is an opportunity to formally request a Pre-Application Screening Opinion by submitting a Pre-Application Screening Notice.

If the proposal requires a PAC, the applicant will be required to submit to the Council a Proposal of Application Notice  (PAN) no less than 12 weeks prior to submitting the planning application.  The pre-application screening notice and PAN are available to download in pdf format from the 'Related Downloads' section to the left of this page.

A PAN must include details of the public consultation to be undertaken by the applicant, which must be agreed by the Council.  All Community Councils which cover or adjoin the proposed site must be consulted and have a PAN served on them.  Consultation will require a minimum of 1 public event within the community affected by the development.  This must be advertised at least 7 days in advance in a local newspaper.  The advertisement must include:

  • a description of, and the location of, the proposed development;
  • details as to where further information may be obtained concerning the proposed development;
  • the date and place of the public event;
  • a statement explaining how, and by when, persons wishing to make comments to the prospective applicant relating to the proposal may do so; and
  • a statement that comments made to the prospective applicant are not representations to the planning authority.  (If the prospective applicant submits an application there will be an opportunity to make representations on that application to the planning authority when the application is submitted.)

Following the PAC process, a report confirming and detailing that the PAC has taken place in line with the statutory requirements has to be submitted with the planning application by the applicant.  The report must:

  • specify who has been consulted;
  • set out what steps were taken to comply with the statutory requirements and those of the planning authority; and
  • set out how the applicant has responded to comments and the extent to which the proposals have changed as a result of PAC.

Useful information on community consultation is available from the Scottish Government’s Planning Advice Note 81, “Community Engagement – Planning With People” which can be accessed through the 'Related Sites' section of this page.


Applications for National Developments, or for Major Developments that are a significant departure from the development plan, have to be subject to pre-determination hearings before they are determined by the Full Council.  Pre-determination hearings will normally be undertaken by the Planning Committee.

All applications for Major Developments that are not a significant departure from the development plan are determined by the Council’s Planning Committee, as are any applications for Local Developments which, under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation, require to be reported to the Committee.  Most applications for Local Developments are determined by planning officers under powers delegated by the Council through its Scheme of Delegation.

If an applicant is aggrieved by the terms of a determination made by officers under delegated powers, a review by the Local Review Body can be requested.  If an applicant is aggrieved by the terms of a determination made by the Planning Committee or Council an appeal can be lodged with the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals.

Related Sites