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There is a lot more to soils than their importance as a platform for construction. Soils interact with our environment helping to maintain clean water and air as well as supporting the green infrastructure in our towns and cities.

Soils also play a role in regulating our climate. This section provides information to help you understand the importance of soils in the wider environmental context. It will also help you evaluate the impact of proposed developments on soils and the environmental processes they control.

 

Soil, land use and the planning system

The National Planning Framework, Scottish Planning Policy and Development Plans are the cornerstones of the planning system. We need to enable good development in the right place and of the right design and quality, taking into account national planning policy, so that our environment is suitably protected and enhanced. Proper consideration of soils through the planning system is part of this.

Find out more about Scotland's planning system at the Scottish Government's Planning webpages.

 

Soil, development planning and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Development plan policies are expected to highlight the importance and non-renewable nature of soils, providing criteria against which development proposals may be considered and providing a framework for enhancement. Development briefs and other forms of supplementary guidance should also include specific recommendations on the coverage and evaluation of effects on soil.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) seeks to ensure that the environmental effects of public plans and strategies are fully considered throughout their preparation and that adoption includes specific soil considerations. More information can be found in the Scottish Government’s SEA webpage.

Planning collaboration and statutory consultees:

 

Soil, development management and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) seeks to ensure that the environmental effects of major projects are fully investigated, understood and taken into account before decisions are made on whether they should proceed.

EIA screening and scoping procedures, as well as the assessment process itself, should fully consider the effects of developments on soil. The assessment and after-use of previously developed sites should include consideration of soils and the development control process (including the use of planning conditions and agreements) and should fully reflect the range of effects (both positive and negative) on soil during construction, operation and decommissioning. EIA should use available soil information to assess the extent of resources, but this should also be complemented by more detailed field observations to assess the impact of the development and work out options for restoration or mitigation.

Useful links

 

Tool kits / soil surveying

For use in desk studies – view and download soil maps and data

Soil type

Carbon rich soil, deep peat and priority habitats

Land capability for agriculture

Soil surveying

Accounting for your soils

Good practice on-site activities

After care, restoration and mitigation

Also consult resources for Land managers - Forestry for woodland restoration.

 

Developing skill sets / expert advice

Learn more about Scottish research and training


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