Environmental evidence underpins everything we do to plan and make decisions on the design and delivery of high-quality, successful places in Scotland. New evidence approaches and collaboration need to be developed so that our key information can be used more effectively to help support the delivery of key priorities for our future places and people.

Key agencies sub-group

Understanding environmental evidence for planning policy

A collaboration between Scotland’s leading environment agencies and environmental research bodies are working with Scotland’s Development Planning Authorities to understand what new evidence approaches could help better inform the development, and delivery, of new planning policy approaches for Scotland’s future places and people.

Copyright © British Geological Survey

Key Agencies Group Scotland (KAG)Who are we?

This group is a sub-group of the Key Agencies Group Scotland (KAG). The members of our sub-group are:

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) British Geological Survey (BGS) Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) The Scottish Government Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
Improvement Service Scotland (ISS) Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) The James Hutton Institute (JHI)


The membership of the wider KAG is can be found here. The KAG was established in 2008, with the aim of developing and supporting planning in Scotland through improved joint working. It is comprised of a ‘core’ group of statutory planning agencies, with wider organisations with relevant expertise contributing to the KAG sub-groups, such as this one.

What we do

Our purpose

To enable a better understanding of how environmental information can be utilised more effectively in planning policy to help deliver key priorities for our future places and people.

The strategic aim and vision of the group is to:

  • To build improved accessibility and connectivity of environmental evidence to inform LDP preparation and strengthen placemaking in Scotland
  • To develop understanding of the required analytical pathways and communication of information
  • To initiate and build a culture change in interaction between LAs and KAG – developing a coordinated, interactive collaboration and dialogue.

Informing LDP delivery - View the PDF version

Our work plan

Our work plan sets out our 12 month vision on how we will lead work with LDP teams in Scotland to develop new understanding of how environmental information can be used more effectively, and additively, to inform early strategic planning approaches.

Please click on the image below to view our Work Plan.

© British Geological Survey

Our work plan - View the full PDF version.

We would welcome any comments on our Work Plan. Please email Helen Bonsor


Why is it needed?

Environmental spatial information developed and published by Scotland’s key agencies and research bodies have measureable value to inform early evidence approaches in planning policy – however, there is a need to improve the connectivity and accessibility of information, as well as understand new analytical pathways.

Discussions at national workshops (held in May 2017, February and May 2018), led by the Key Agencies sub-group and a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, highlighted a recognised and urgent need to:

  • develop an improved collegiate understanding between Planning Authorities and national information providers of what are the most pertinent environmental information to LDP preparation; and
  • pilot new approaches to understand how evidence can be used in new pathways and more effectively to strengthen the capacity of planning policy.

This will enable us to develop:

  • better connectivity of information from existing web services and platforms; and
  • improved user based guidance for environmental evidence, increasing its accessibility to key users in policy.

LDP Evidence Workshop – COSLA, Edinburgh May 2018 - Copyright © British Geological Survey

Our approach

Learning pilots and wider validation

© British Geological Survey

Understanding what environmental information and evidence processes are relevant to the questions being asked in Local Development Plan (LDP) preparation is complex, and requires new collective learning between LDP teams and information providers.

Your input matters


Pilot work initiated – September 2018

We are undertaking in-depth learning with 7 LDP teams across Scotland, to develop an iterative understanding of what environmental evidence and pathways are helpful to informing LDP preparation.

Pilot Approach

Following discussion with the LDP teams – the learning pilots will take the following outline approach:

  1. In-depth User Stories with LDP preparation roles (Sept-Oct).
  2. Develop a first pass at identifying potentially relevant existing environmental information to help inform LDP preparation process. This will be framed around 2 foci (See below).
  3. Share and collate input from LDP teams – and develop a second iteration.

Pilot Foci

The pilot work will try to understand environment information needs in the context of two questions in LDP preparation:

  1. to help better inform understanding, risk and opportunities of land supply assets, to help inform subsequent Call for Sites;
  2. to help better inform understanding, risk and opportunities for energy planning.

Intended outcomes

  • Understanding of key existing available information
  • New additive analytical pathways of using existing information
  • Other evidence required and gaps.

Sign up to our Knowledge Hub area

So that you can view and input your thoughts to the pilot outcomes and learning as things are posted and developed. We would like input from as many LDP teams in Scotland as possible.

Sign-up here: https://khub.net/group/informing-ldp-delivery

If you have any problems with signing up – please contact Iain Paton: Iain.Paton@improvementservice.org.uk

Send us your User Story

How do you need to use environmental information in LDP preparation?

Please tell us your thoughts, from your perspective and role in LDP preparation, by completing these 4 questions below, with a little or as much detail as you would like, and email it to us at: helnso@bgs.ac.uk

LDP preparation User Stories

As a […]

When I am […]

I need to […]

So that I can […]

Let’s keep in touch

Improved communications and ongoing dialogue were highlighted as a priority at the national workshops.

We will be posting regular updates to this webpage about how our work progresses, the learning pilots, and key findings. Our communications will be going out to Heads of Planning, Strategic Environmental Assessment contacts and Local Development Plan policy and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) roles across Scotland’s planning authorities to ensure we connect to all relevant roles in this work area.

LDP Evidence Workshop – COSLA, Edinburgh - Copyright © British Geological Survey

Sign up for regular updates.

Please contact Helen Bonsor helnso@bgs.ac.uk if you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive regular updated about this work.

Follow us on social media

We will be posting updates on social media using #ScotPlanning and #LDPEvidence on the following social media channels:




Scotland’s environment web facebook

Please share and join the conversation.

This page was last updated on 02 Jul 2018

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