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Publication - Factsheet

Compulsory purchase orders: introduction

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) can allow councils and other organisations to purchase property without the owner's permission, if there is a strong enough case for this in the public interest.

Many public sector organisations (e.g. local authorities, Transport Scotland) and a range of infrastructure providers (e.g. energy transmission companies) have powers to purchase land without the owner's agreement if there is considered to be a strong enough case in the public interest in doing so.

For example, a local council may need to build a new road, assemble land to enable regeneration or build a new school, but cannot reach agreement to purchase the land needed. In these cases they may promote a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and ask Ministers to confirm it. If confirmed by Ministers they may then take ownership of the land and pay compensation to the landowner and others with an interest in the land.

CPOs are a useful tool to enable local authorities and other public sector bodies and infrastructure providers to acquire land to enable projects which are in the public interest to proceed, when they would otherwise not. However, the use of a CPO to take away someone's property rights is a significant step that must be carefully considered and the benefits of the underlying project balanced against the rights of landowners and others with an interest in the land.

When a CPO is used it should be done efficiently and fairly and that uncertainty for landowners and those affected should be minimised wherever possible.

We aim to create a clear, accessible, effective and efficient system of legislation and policy which allows for the compulsory acquisition and purchase of land and property for the public benefit. The provisions relating to any compensation should be fair and transparent and allow for timeous settlement.

We have published a range of information and guidance about the CPO process.

Compulsory Purchase Orders considered by Ministers

We have created a register of all CPOs considered by Ministers since 1 January 2012.

Advice to acquiring authorities on the use of compulsory purchase

Please note that we are currently reviewing these documents and new advice is likely to be published early in 2018.

You can contact us if you have questions about the CPO process or need to know where to send draft or final CPOs documentation.

Advice for landowners who may be affected by a compulsory purchase project

We have published advice to landowners who believe they may be affected by a Compulsory Purchase project.

Please note that we are currently reviewing this document and new advice is likely to be published in 2018.

Examples of CPO usage

We have published a number of case studies of how compulsory purchase has been used to deliver a range of projects for the public benefit.

Reform of compulsory purchase

Ministers have committed to supporting interim measures to modernise CPOs in advance of legislation. We are reviewing the current framework for dealing with these. This will build on the Scottish Law Commission's review of compulsory purchase and land compensation law conducted in 2014-16.

CPO Assembly

You can view the presentations, agenda and key learning points from the CPO Assembly that took place on 12 December 2017 on our blog.


We have created a list of useful contacts for CPO policy.



Telephone: 0141 242 5442

Area 2-H (South)
Planning and Architecture Division
The Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

11 Dec 2017
Compulsory purchase orders: introduction