1. The primary responsibility for the operation of the planning system and service lies with local and national park authorities. They are best placed to make decisions about matters which affect their areas. But there can be some occasions when the Scottish Government will become involved in the planning application process. This circular explains the Government's role.
2. A properly functioning planning system is essential to achieving the Scottish Government's central purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. It has a particular role to play in supporting Scotland's economic recovery, by reducing the regulatory burden so that planning can act as an aid, not a barrier, to growth. Unnecessary planning delays constrain investment, so the Government is intensifying its reforms to simplify the planning system and speed up decisions on planning applications and appeals.
3. As an important contribution towards these reforms, the Scottish Government signalled in the new Scottish Planning Policy and in Delivering Planning Reform, both published in October 2008, that there would be a more proportionate involvement in planning cases by central government. The changes to the processes and requirements for notifying Scottish Ministers of planning applications, set out in this circular, deliver on that commitment.
4. The Annex to this circular contains the Town and Country Planning (Notification of Applications) (Scotland) Direction 2009, which replaces the 2007 Notification Direction and subsequent amendments. The circular provides guidance on those circumstances in which planning authorities must, as a matter of routine, notify Scottish Ministers where they propose to grant planning permission. It updates and replaces the guidance previously given in SEDD Circular 5/2007, which is now withdrawn.