Major and national developments

Carrying out major and national developments always requires planning permission. Making an application for this kind of works is similar to applying for planning permission for household and local developments but it involves additional steps:

View our Customer Briefing Notes for the latest changes to the Planning Service.

Large scale energy, transmission and infrastructure developments

Energy, transmission and infrastructure developments generally fall under the category of national or major applications. In the case of large-scale developments generating electricity over 50MW or certain overhead electric lines will fall under the Electricity Act 1989. Onshore developments over 50 MW will require a Section 36 application to be made to Scottish Ministers for determination. A similar process applies to overhead lines where a Section 37 application requires to be made. The consenting process is administered by the Scottish Government: Energy Consents Unit. Applications for marine energy projects over 1 MW such as offshore windfarms, tidal and wave developments are made to Marine Scotland.

Electricity generating stations encompass a range of technologies such as wind, solar and thermal generation, and include battery installation (storage) as set out in the Chief Planner’s letter of August 2020.

The power being generated from a development and the size of the site will generally determine which category of development a project falls under.

To find out more about large scale energy, transmission and infrastructure development, and the consenting processes that apply, contact our Strategic Development Delivery Team. Find out about our pre-application advice service for large scale energy, transmission and infrastructure.

Priority services

Priority services are not statutory requirements and developers may submit applications without using the services. The Priority Determination Service provides an enhanced processing agreement (PPA) between the council and the applicant to project manage the application at the formal consenting stage ensuring a better quality of application and certainty of a determination date, without compromising other work streams and ensuring service continuity. There is no guarantee of a positive recommendation, but it can provide the certainty of when a decision will be reached, subject to meeting certain criteria.

To apply complete the Priority Determination Service form (PDF 137KB) and gate checklist (PDF 175KB). Please submit completed forms to our correspondence address.

The Priority Discharge of Conditions Service will process requests for discharge of conditions within a shorter time period for time critical developments.

To find out more, contact our Strategic Development Delivery Team.

National developments

National developments are significant developments of national importance that are set out in National Planning Framework 4: Annex B - National Developments Statement of Need.

These range from single large-scale projects to collections or networks of smaller scale proposals and infrastructure. Some of the most relevant projects for Aberdeenshire include:

  • Industrial Green Transition Zones (encompassing CCUS and hydrogen proposals at St Fergus and Peterhead)
  • Strategic renewable energy generation and transmission infrastructure, required to connect new on and offshore electric grid capacity to the rest of Scotland and the UK

The process to apply for national developments is similar to those of major. However, before applying, you should contact our Strategic Development Delivery Team to discuss the process and the arrangements for national applications.

Major developments

Major developments include building of 50 or more homes, certain waste, water, transport and energy-related building works, larger retail developments (all as outlined in the Scottish Government Hierarchy of Development) as well as any type mentioned in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

Pre-application advice

Find out about our pre-application advice service for major developments should you wish to request pre-application advice prior to starting the application process.

Planning Processing Agreements

We encourage the use of Planning Processing Agreements (PPA) for major and national developments, preferably before you submit your planning application. 

Pre-Application Consultation

All major and national developments require Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) with the community. This helps to mitigate negative impacts where possible, address misunderstandings and issues raised by the community. You can then take this into account to improve the quality of your application.

To get this process started, you need to submit a Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) form (PDF 86KB) at least 12 weeks before you submit your planning application. This is to notify us of your intention to submit a major or national application, describe your development and propose a consultation (how, when, where and with whom it will take place). This form details what information and documents you need to provide and what you need to do. 

You need to conduct the PAC in line with our SP=EED (Successful Planning = Effective Engagement and Delivery) guidelines (PDF 587KB)

Our Planning team will respond to you within 21 days of receiving your POAN to advise you if the proposed PAC is satisfactory or if additional information and consultation are needed. They will also tell you what to include in your PAC report.

You will need to submit your PAC report with your planning application.

Application process

To request planning permission for major or national developments you need to follow the same process as planning permission for household and local developments. The main differences concern the pre-application, assessment and decision processes. In the case of major and national developments:

  • A relevant council committee determines the application instead of the planning officer
  • We have 4 months to make a decision (unless an alternative timescale is agreed as part of a processing agreement) instead of 2 
  • There may also be requirements for a Pre-Determination Hearing (PDH) as part of the application process