REMOVAL OF LEGAL BARRIERS TO E-PLANNING
8. The Town and Country Planning (Electronic Communications) (Scotland Order) 2004 came into effect on 28 July 2004. The purpose of this order is to remove the legal barriers which prevent some aspects of the planning system from being carried out electronically. This is the first order in Scotland to be made under Section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000.
9. The order allows for the use of electronic communications for certain procedures within the planning system. It covers all the key parts of the planning system, such as the planning application and appeals processes, advertisement consent, minerals consent and development planning. There are a number of exceptions to the order, for areas where electronic communication is considered inappropriate, either because it cannot be assumed that electronic addresses of relevant parties would be known or available, or because criminal sanctions would apply in circumstances where there was failure to comply with certain notices, or where an interest in land may be affected. Examples are the neighbour notification process and the serving of enforcement and related orders. Further information on the order is available in SEDD Circular 3/2004.
10. As Circular 3/2004 indicates, there is no expressed requirement within planning legislation for a signature and there is no legal definition within the Town and Country Planning (Electronic Communications) (Scotland Order) 2004 as to what is an electronic signature. It is for each planning authority to decide whether they will require an electronic signature on application forms and other communications submitted online. The Executive's understanding is that an electronic signature could be as simple as a typed name on a document transmitted electronically, and that it does not have to be a complicated scanned or digitally encrypted signature.