Policy 1 of NPF4 requires significant weight to be given to the global climate crisis when considering all development proposals with Policy 2 requiring lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions to be minimised as far as possible.

The transitional arrangements for NPF4 highlighted that there is no single methodology for assessing compliance with these policies, making it difficult for developers to know what information will be required when submitting planning applications.

Although aimed at local authorities and other public bodies in the execution of their own duties, the guidance recently published by The Sustainable Scotland Network on best practice for Climate Change Impact Assessments ("CCIA") might be of assistance.

What does a CCIA look like?

There is no prescribed form of assessment in the guidance. It encourages adoption of processes which are deliverable.

The guidance does, however, list the following as the minimum categories to be considered in a CCIA:

  • Building/construction, embodied carbon, including transportation, installation and disposal of old supplies and materials;
  • Energy source use and consumption;
  • Waste/resource management;
  • Any change in land use;
  • Impacts on biodiversity;
  • Any proposal to significantly change existing operational activities or service such as longer working hours; increased footfall in or travelling to a premises.

Going forward

As mentioned, the guidance on complying with the climate change policies in NPF4 is still quite woolly, with just a note that "at this stage, quantitative assessments are not expected for all applications". The CCIA is envisaged as an evolving process so developers can expect more information to be required as local authorities get more experienced with their own CCIAs.

The guidance makes reference to Edinburgh City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and East Renfrewshire Council all currently having CCIA processes in place and so it may be in these locations that developers will be expected to provide more information in the first instance.