20. It is essential that the planning system interacts effectively with the frameworks for the provision and regulation of water and drainage infrastructure. Good relationships between planning authorities, Scottish Water, SEPA, developers and other stakeholders are important throughout the development process. Each needs to be clear about its respective role and how they require to interact.
21. The Planning Authority has responsibility for preparing development plans and determining planning applications. In fulfilling these responsibilities, it needs to be proactive in considering water and drainage issues and to satisfy itself that development proposals can be acceptably implemented. The planning authority will, therefore, need to work closely with developers, Scottish Water and SEPA. Some authorities have found that regular liaison meetings with Scottish Water, SEPA and other stakeholders to discuss issues associated with water and waste water infrastructure of great assistance. This can be helpful during the preparation of a development plan and to discuss specific issues such as the reduction and mitigation of the environmental impacts of discharges from the waste water network. A good awareness of development pressures and financial considerations will help to inform such meetings. Planning authorities should maintain an up-to-date understanding of the progress made by Scottish Water and developers in overcoming any constraints affecting consented applications. Discussions with developers during the annual housing land audit process provides an important opportunity for the regular review of water supply and drainage issues.
22. Scottish Water is responsible for coordinating and delivering investment in its water and waste water infrastructure and grants consent for connection to its network. As required by Ministers, Scottish Water takes into consideration the views and development priorities expressed by the planning authority when preparing its investment programme. It is essential that Scottish Water is fully engaged with the planning system to help inform decisions. This includes playing an active role in meetings arranged by the planning authority and responding to consultations. Scottish Water also publishes an annual Strategic Asset Capacity and Development Plan. In taking cognisance of demographic trends, Scottish Water is improving its understanding of the impact of new development on operational levels of service and incorporates this into its development planning process.
23. SEPA regulates the quality of the water environment as required by legislation. It is responsible for ensuring that discharges to the water environment (including groundwater) comply with legal requirements and, in respect of drinking water supply, determining the amount of water that can be abstracted. An application for a discharge must be determined on its merits to ensure water quality is adequately protected. SEPA has an important role in providing expert environmental advice to planning authorities and developers on the options for accommodating new development. As a planning consultee, SEPA also has the role of raising strategic drainage issues in the context of its policies, including its Policy on Provision of Waste Water Drainage in Sewered Areas, 4 to which the planning authority should have regard when preparing development plans and making decisions on planning applications. As with Scottish Water, it is important that SEPA plays an active role in meetings arranged by the planning authority and responding to consultations.
24. Developers require consent from Scottish Water to connect to its water and waste water networks. Consents are only granted when capacity is available, discharges to the water environment meet the relevant environmental regulations and abstractions are within the limits of Water Orders. Developers should work closely with Scottish Water and SEPA early in the development process to gain an understanding of water supply and drainage requirements and agree acceptable measures for overcoming any constraints. Private systems require authorisation from SEPA. Developers also require planning permission from the relevant planning authority which will regard the proposed arrangements for water and drainage as material considerations.
STATUTORY DUTY TO ENGAGE
25. The White Paper, Modernising the Planning System (2005), stated the Scottish Executive's intention to designate key agencies for development planning and require them to co-operate in the plan preparation process. This is an important new provision, recognising the importance of development plans and ensuring that they contain up-to-date and relevant information. Key agencies will be defined in secondary legislation and are likely to include Scottish Water and SEPA. Further advice on their roles and responsibilities in relation to development planning will be issued in due course.