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Biodiversity and Orkney Islands Council

What is biodiversity?

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2022-2045 describes biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms within terrestrial, marine and aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes they are part of. This includes diversity within species, between species and across ecosystems.” Biodiversity supports human life by providing food, water and materials, as well as natural services such as shade and cooling, shelter, flood defences, water and nutrient cycles.

Considering and including biodiversity in development guidance

Policy 3 of National Planning Framework 4 requires all planning applications, other than those for individual householder development such as extensions, to submit information about how the biodiversity interest of the proposed development site would be conserved, restored and enhanced. To help applicants in Orkney with local scale development applications, guidance has been produced along with a biodiversity form that must be completed and submitted with relevant local scale planning applications within the Orkney Islands Council area. The guidance and biodiversity form can be found here.

A separate, editable PDF form for including Biodiversity in planning applications can be found here, or in the related downloads section below.

If applicants have queries about the guidance, please email

Separate guidance is due to be published by Scottish Government for national and major scale developments, including those requiring Environmental Impact Assessment. Meantime, if applicants have queries about how to address biodiversity policy requirements in applications for national and major scale developments in Orkney, they should email

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

It is well publicised that the world is living in a climate and nature emergency. The Scottish Government’s Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2022-2045 sets out a range of actions and objectives to safeguard and improve Scotland’s biodiversity. As part of their biodiversity duty, public bodies should seek to contribute to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy actions where locally relevant.

Local authorities can contribute to biodiversity conservation; as land managers and planning authorities they can help identify and minimise potential harmful effects on biodiversity and encourage positive action to conserve and enhance it. Across a range of functions there are also opportunities for education, community engagement, projects and initiatives that can deliver significant benefits for biodiversity through awareness raising and direct action.

Biodiversity duty

The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 places a duty on all public bodies, including Orkney Islands Council, to further the conservation of biodiversity in the course of carrying out their responsibilities. This is commonly referred to as the ‘biodiversity duty’. In complying with the biodiversity duty, public bodies must have regard to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2001 places a further obligation on public bodies to provide a publicly available report, every three years, on the actions undertaken to comply with the biodiversity duty.

Biodiversity Duty Reports produced by Orkney Islands Council can be found under the 'Related Downloads' section at the bottom of this page.

Information about biodiversity duty and the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy can be found on the NatureScot website using the links found in the ‘Related Sites (external websites)’ section at the bottom of this page.