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Advice and Support

Historic environment legislation in Scotland

How Scotland’s historic environment legislation shapes the advice we give.

1 Overview

Historic Environment Scotland provides expert advice on historic environment issues.

We work with others to ensure that where change is necessary, this doesn’t adversely affect the fabric and important elements of Scotland’s historic environment or result in loss of or damage to these features. We work with planning authorities, owners, developers and many other bodies.

We are also consulted on Environmental Impact Assessment.

We advise on the Strategic Environmental Assessment of development plans.

Our advice is led by government policies and legislation relating to Scotland’s historic environment, as set out in the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).

We also support and apply the existing historic environment legislation by publishing guidelines – for example, the Managing Change in the Historic Environment guidance note series.

The Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014

The Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014 sets out Historic Environment Scotland’s role and legal status, including changes in processes for the designation of monuments and buildings (scheduling and listing) and for consents relating to scheduled monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas. A right of appeal against certain decisions by Historic Environment Scotland has also been introduced.

The Act amended the:

The Town and Country Planning (Historic Environment Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2015 amends the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

Amendment act

The Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011 made changes to some parts of the previous legislation.

Three acts were directly affected by the amendment act:

Key legislation in specific areas

You can use this guide to find out about legislation affecting:

  • listed buildings
  • scheduled monuments
  • conservation areas
  • Inventory gardens and designed landscapes
  • Inventory battlefields
  • World Heritage Sites
  • marine archaeology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

2 Listed buildings

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997

This is the main legislation that allows us to:

  • list buildings of special architectural or historic interest
  • advise on changes affecting listed buildings and conservation areas, e.g. through listed building consent

Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

Once a building is listed, consent is required to alter it. This is administered by the relevant planning authority. The Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure)(Scotland) Regulations 2015 set out the process for applying for and determining applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent.

Further information about these processes can be found in the Historic Environment Circular 1.

Planning authorities will be able to advise on applications made before 1 October 2015 as different regulations may apply.

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

This is the main legislation to control planning and development. It also relates to historic environment aspects of planning.

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

Legislation and guidance on procedures for dealing with planning permission applications that affect either a:

  • scheduled monument or its setting
  • category A listed building or its setting
  • garden or designed landscape
  • battlefield site
  • World Heritage Site

3 Scheduled monuments

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

This is the main legislation that allows us to:

  • add nationally important monuments to the schedule
  • control works affecting scheduled monuments, through processes such as scheduled monument consent

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

Legislation and guidance on procedures for dealing with planning permission applications that affect either a:

  • scheduled monument or its setting
  • category A listed building or its setting
  • garden or designed landscape
  • battlefield site
  • World Heritage Site

The Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) (Scotland) Order 1996

The Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) (Scotland) Order 1996

Some types of works don’t require scheduled monument consent to be applied for. Consent for such works is granted under the Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) (Scotland) Order 1996.

After a monument is scheduled, consent is required to alter it. Read guidance on scheduled monument consent.

Scheduled monument consent is administered by Historic Environment Scotland in accordance with the following regulations.

The Scheduled Monument Consent Procedure (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Scheduled Monument Consent Procedure (Scotland) Regulations 2015

These regulations set out the:

  • form that an application for scheduled monument consent should take
  • minimum level of information required in the application

Further information about the consent process can be found in the Historic Environment Circular 1.

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas (Compensation) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas (Compensation) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

This legislation sets out the method for claiming compensation under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

4 Conservation areas

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997

This is the main legislation that sets out the framework for designating and managing conservation areas. 

Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 set out the process for applying for and determining applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent.

Further information about these processes can be found in the Historic Environment Circular 1.

Planning authorities will advise on applications made before 1 October 2015 as different regulations may apply.

5 Inventory gardens and designed landscapes

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 requires Scottish Ministers to compile and maintain an inventory. Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for this work.

Changes to Inventory gardens and designed landscapes are managed through the planning system.

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

This is the main legislation to control planning and development. It also relates to historic environment aspects of planning.

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

Legislation and guidance on procedures for dealing with planning permission applications that affect either a:

  • scheduled monument or its setting
  • category A listed building or its setting
  • garden or designed landscape
  • battlefield site
  • World Heritage Site

6 Inventory battlefields

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 requires Scottish Ministers to compile and maintain an inventory. Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for this work.

Changes to Inventory battlefields are managed through the planning system.

The Town and Country Planning Regulations 2013 and Direction 2015

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Neighbouring Planning Authorities and Historic Environment) (Scotland) Direction 2015

Notification triggers for historic battlefields have been introduced by Scottish Ministers under this legislation.

The changes came into force on 23 June 2014.

7 World Heritage Sites

The Town and Country Planning Regulations 2013 and Direction 2015

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Neighbouring Planning Authorities and Historic Environment) (Scotland) Direction 2015

Historic Environment Scotland must be consulted on any development affecting a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Scotland.

Notification triggers for World Heritage Sites have also been introduced by Scottish Ministers.

The changes came into force on 23 June 2014.

8 Marine archaeology

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

This legislation aims to protect and enhance the marine environment.

It introduces:

  • a marine planning system
  • marine licensing for a wide range of developments and licensable activities in the marine environment

The legislation also makes it possible to create Historic Marine Protected Areas. These can be used to protect marine historic assets of national importance.

Section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 no longer applies in Scotland.

9 Environmental assessment (EIA and SEA)

Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005

Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005

The main legislation that provides for the assessment of the environmental effects of certain plans and programmes.

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Regulations relating to the assessment of the impact of certain large-scale public and private projects on the environment – including the historic environment – through the planning system.

10 Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

This legislation brings rights for community bodies and places duties on public bodies. The Act includes the right for communities to make requests to take control of land or buildings where they have a better plan for the asset. The legislation also promotes participation in decision-making and having an equal voice in planning.

The Act identifies Historic Environment Scotland as a Statutory Partner for community planning and the relevant authority for asset transfer.

Find out more about the Act and community empowerment.

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