Planning & Environment

What do pandas and offshore wind farms have in common? Each have been involved in the exercise of call-in and notification powers by the Scottish Ministers.

Call-in and notification powers

Explanation of the Ministers’ powers are in my previous blog.

Inch Cape offshore wind farm

The Ministers have called in the application for planning permission in principle for onshore transmission works associated with the Inch Cape offshore wind farm.

In consequence, the Ministers will decide the application, not East Lothian Council.

The reason given is that the application raises matters which are potentially of national importance in the context of expectations set out in National Planning Framework 3 for the site of the former Cockenzie power station and the need for an enhanced high voltage energy transmission network.


The other ministerial intervention is the redevelopment of the former Corstorphine Hospital, Edinburgh to form residential apartments.

This isn’t a call-in, yet; rather, the Ministers have issued a notification direction, which requires the City of Edinburgh Council to notify the Ministers if they are minded to grant planning permission and listed building consent. That will give the Ministers 28 days to decide whether to call-in the applications, or allow the Council to issue the permission/ consent.

The reason given for the notification direction is the potential impact of the proposed development, including possible negative health impacts for giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo during construction.


Central government intervention in local decision-making is always a controversial issue. The outcomes of these cases are awaited with interest.

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments.
Neil Collar