The Planning System and Transport Scotland


The planning system is used to make decisions about the future development and use of land in our towns, cities and countryside. It considers where development should happen, where it should not and how development affects its surroundings. The system balances different interests to make sure that land is used and developed in a way that creates high quality, sustainable places. 

You can find out more about the planning system in Scotland on the Scottish Government’s Planning website.

As part of the Scottish Government, directly accountable to Ministers, Transport Scotland plays its full role in the planning system which is vital in delivering high-quality places for Scotland.  We participate in plan-making and  in planning decisions, focussing on the Scottish Government's Purpose of creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

We are primarily concerned with the relationship between development and the strategic transport network.  Scottish Ministers have responsibilities for the strategic transport network which includes the trunk road and rail networks.  The primary purpose of these are to provide the safe and efficient movement of strategic long-distance traffic between major centres, although in rural areas it also performs important local functions.  

Where development has the potential to impact on these networks, we have a responsibility to ensure that the impacts have been considered and addressed.  We wishe to ensure that development is successfully delivered alongside the continued safe and efficient operation of networks for the benefit of all users.  Scottish Planning Policy provides further detail on the planning system and transport.

We encourage early engagement with Transport Scotland throughout the planning process, whether it be a development plan or planning application.  We also welcome early engagement with planning authorities, developers and other planning stakeholders.  This allows us to assist in delivering better plans and in enabling planning applications to be processed more efficiently.

Planning performance framework

The Planning Performance Framework was developed by Heads of Planning Scotland and presents a holistic framework for assessing planning performance and promoting improvement. The focus on performance and service is firmly embedded within our organisation so that planning can support the Government’s Economic Strategy.

We complete and submit our own Planning Performance Framework document. This outlines our performance for engagement and response on Development Plans and Planning Applications. The Framework includes National Headline Indicators, projected service improvements and actions for the coming year, as well as information on the work undertaken to implement the previous year’s actions.


Transport Scotland is subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs). We must treat all requests for information in accordance with FOISA or the EIRs.  We are required to release information when requested, including information from agencies to planning authorities, unless a FOISA exemption or EIRs exception applies.

Under the terms of FOISA/EIRs, the decision on whether or not to release information is solely one for the party which has received the request. However, it is good practice to take account of the views of third parties, such as developers, who have an interest in the information. Any developer who wants Transport Scotland to withhold information should make a case which gives reasons why an exemption under FOISA, or exception under the EIRs, applies to that information and why the public interest in disclosure is not outweighed by the public interest in upholding the exemption, if relevant.

You can find detailed information about FOISA on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website and our own Freedom of Information webpage.