Scotland legislation & regulation

This page outlines legislation relating to SuDS for Scotland including:



The Water Environment and Water Services (WEWS) (Scotland) Act 2003

This Act received Royal Assent in 2003 and makes provision for protection of the water environment including provisions for implementing the European Directives. 


WEWS made Scottish Water responsible for SuDS that deal with the run-off from roofs and any paved ground surface within the property boundary. SuDS need to be designed to Scottish Water's specifications as set out in their manual “Sewers for Scotland 3rd Edition”. In addition, the law makes the use of SuDS obligatory when dealing with surface water drainage from all new developments.


This does not mean all SuDS will be vested by Scottish Water, the various parties involved primarily local authorities and developers also have to take responsibility and develop approaches for allocating responsibilities for their long term maintenance and work in partnership.


For further information please click here.


SEPA regulatory process

Regulatory Method 8 (WAT RM-08) sets out SEPA’s guidance on SuDS. This covers the planning consultation procedure for new developments. The guidance covers the regulation of surface water discharges from built developments including construction sites, buildings, roads and yards.


SuDS are a legal requirement for all developments except single dwellings that drain to the water environment unless they discharge to coastal waters.


For further information please click here.


Flood Risk Management Act 2009

The Flood Risk Management Act came into force in 2009 and introduced a more sustainable approach to flood risk management. The Act will create a more coordinated process to managing flood risk at a national and local level, the Act also covers many of the activities being undertaken in the Flood Risk Regulations for England and Wales. The specific measures in the Act include:


  • A framework for coordination and cooperation between all organisations involved in flood risk management

  • Assessment of flood risk and preparation of flood risk management plans including implementation of the Floods Directive

  • New responsibilities for SEPA, Scottish Water and local authorities in relation to flood risk management

  • A revised, streamlined process for flood protection schemes

  • New methods to enable stakeholders and the public to contribute to managing flood risk, and;

  • A single enforcement authority for the safe operation of Scotland's reservoirs.

For further information please click here.


Planning and development process

In Scotland the planning decisions deals with land use and land development where decisions are usually made at a local or council level. The main planning duties of the council are:


  • Deciding on planning permission applications

  • Organising and preparing development plans

  • Dealing with building and developments that have not been approved. 


The Structural plan and the Local plan are the two parts to development plans. These decide how much development will take place, where it is allowed and areas that it will not be permitted.


Scottish planning policy

In Scotland the National planning policy is currently set out through the following documents:



The Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) is a consolidated document that provides a short, clear and focused statement of national policy, is sets out:


  • the Scottish Government's view of the purpose of planning,

  • the core principles for the operation of the system and the objectives for key parts of the system,

  • statutory guidance on sustainable development and planning under Section 3E of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006,

  • concise subject planning policies, including the implications for development planning and development management, and

  • the Scottish Government's expectations of the intended outcomes of the planning system.


The SPP sets out policy on a range of subjects including flooding and drainage, landscape and natural heritage, open space and recreation and green belts. 


For more information please click here.


Planning Advice Notes

Planning Advice Notes provide advice and information on technical planning matters. In 2008 the number of PANs was streamlined as part of the modernisation of the planning system.  The relevant PANs relating to sustainable drainage are:


PAN61: Planning and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

Provides good practical advice for planners and the development industry on Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems. 

PAN69: Planning and Building Standards Advice on Flooding

Provides background information and best practice advice in support of Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) 7: Planning and Flooding, and the Technical Handbooks published by the Scottish Building Standards Agency which provide guidance for the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

PAN79: Water and Drainage

Sets out the role of the planning authority in the planning and delivery of new water infrastructure in a coordinated way. It explains the roles of Scottish Water and SEPA and encourages collaboration. 

Designing Streets

Updates and replaces PAN76 and is the first policy statement for street design. It emphasis that street design should focus on place-making and sits along planning policy document Designing Places.


For more information please click here.


Legislation in Scotland

Some of the relevant legislation and guidance is:



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