As the Coronavirus social restrictions are extended across the UK (with the "end" so nearly in sight) the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill on 24 June 2021. The Bill extends certain of the emergency provisions contained in the Coronavirus Scotland Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (No.2) (Scotland) Act 2020. It is now awaiting Royal Assent.

Under the terms of the Scottish 2020 Coronavirus Acts, all emergency measures set out in those acts are due to expire 30 September 2021. The Scottish Government considered it necessary to extend this "emergency period" for some of the measures, however, the ability to extend is limited to 30 September 2021. Therefore in order to extend the measures further, an act of Scottish Parliament is required.

Under the Bill, the following emergency planning measures contained in the Scottish Coronavirus Acts will be affected:

Planning Permissions and Listed Building Consents

The extension of planning permission and listed building consent (LBC) expiry dates will be extended from 30 September 2021 to 31 March 2022. Therefore, any planning permission or LBC that was due to expire between April 2020 and 30 September 2021 will be automatically extended to 31 March 2022.

Local Authority Meetings

Local authorities will no longer be allowed to exclude the public from local authority meetings (i.e. "virtual meetings") after 30 September 2021 on the grounds of public health risks from the Coronavirus.

Interestingly the bill "as introduced" to Scottish Parliament on 18 June 2021 was drafted to extend this emergency measure, however amendments made to the bill between 22 and 24 June included provision for that measure to expire and not be extended. This is perhaps to bring local authority process in line with the intended amendments to the pre-application consultation (PAC) procedure that come into effect 1 October 2021 (see out blog on PAC amendments here) which retain the requirement for PAC public meetings to be held in person. This is despite calls to make the events virtual.


It is important to note that the Bill only amends the Scottish 2020 Coronavirus Acts, not the English equivalents. For example, in England planning permissions and LBCs due to expire between April 2020 and 30 September 2021 will currently be lost if not implemented by 30 September 2021.

The Bill enables the Scottish Government to extend the "emergency period" further to 30 September 2022 by regulations. We certainly hope we will not still be suffering social distancing measures of any kind after two and a half years since the first UK lockdown was introduced, but the Scottish Government have identified the need to support the construction industry to recover from the pandemic: the impacts on the industry will likely last well beyond the point we can all go around hugging random strangers and attending raves (if that’s your bag).