Transport Scotland promotes new trunk road schemes on behalf of the Scottish Ministers.

The powers and duties to manage, maintain and build trunk roads rest with the Scottish Ministers by virtue of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (the RSA).  The RSA sets out the procedures the Scottish Minsters must follow in promoting orders for new roads.

The principal stages of the process are:

  • Choosing a route
  • Publication of draft road orders
  • Draft compulsory purchase order (CPO)
  • Public local inquiry
  • Finalised roads RSA orders and CPO made
  • Compensation

Choosing a route

Transport Scotland carries out a rigorous assessment process to establish the preferred line for a trunk road. The assessment covers such things as traffic, environment, ground investigation and a host of other topics.  Throughout this process, we consult with a large number of people and interested bodies.

We may seek permission from landowners to access land to allow survey work to be carried out.  The RSA provides that access must be granted to the trunk roads authority for the purposes of carrying out their functions under the RSA where appropriate notice is given. If any damage is caused to land then compensation for that disturbance may be available within the terms of the RSA. There will be no payment for access alone.

Draft Orders

The authority to construct new roads is given by virtue of Scottish Statutory Instruments made under powers in the RSA, these are generally referred to as “road orders”. These orders are made following the procedures set out in the RSA but do not generally require to be considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Generally, no road orders are required if the proposed scheme is to upgrade or alter a road entirely within the existing road boundary.  For the majority of our larger schemes, we will publish a set of draft road orders, as required by the RSA, once a preferred line is established.

A range of road orders may be used, some of those commonly used are referred to as: main line, special road, side road, extinguishment of rights of way. The particular orders used will vary depending on the content of the scheme.

The road orders set out which powers of the RSA are being relied on to authorise the construction of the road and describe any conditions that must be met to exercise those powers. Each order usually contains a Schedule which details the proposals by reference to plans showing the proposals.  The publication of the draft road orders and any associated environmental statement will be advertised in the press.  The orders and environmental statement will be lodged at convenient locations for inspection.

Copies of the orders will also be sent to certain parties including affected landowners.  Representations or objections can be made within the consultation period, lasting a minimum of six weeks.  The dates of this period and the address to which representations or objections should be sent will be included in the press advertisement.

A public exhibition of the proposals may be held, depending on the location and content of the scheme.  This will usually take place at the time as the publication of draft orders, but may be held at other times according to individual circumstances.

Draft Compulsory Purchase Order

If it is necessary to purchase land on which to construct the scheme, the land may be acquired either by agreement or by compulsory purchase.  Transport Scotland often uses compulsory purchase as it is a clearly defined statutory process.

Compulsory purchase does not replace discussion and negotiation.  It simply provides a clearer framework for the land acquisition process.  A draft compulsory purchase order (CPO) will be published, frequently but not always, at the same time as the draft road orders.

The CPO follows a prescribed format, it will set out the relevant statutory powers authorising the land acquisition and will include a Schedule detailing the land to be acquired by reference to plans showing the location of the land. Those plans will be produced and annexed to the CPO.  The period for objection or representations in relation to the CPO will be a minimum of three weeks.  As in the case of the road orders, the CPO consultation period will be advertised.

A more detailed explanation of the CPO process is included in Transport Scotland’s booklet “Road Projects – Guidance on the Compulsory Purchase Process and Compensation".

Public Local Inquiry

Objections to the scheme and unresolved issues might be resolved via a public local inquiry (PLI).  The PLI will be held by an independent Reporter who will hear evidence for both sides and will then make recommendations to the Scottish Ministers.

Finalised Orders

If a PLI is not required, or if one has been held and the scheme is subsequently approved by Ministers, Transport Scotland will make the finalised road orders and the CPO subject to any modifications required as a result of the consultations or the PLI where one was held.  Once the orders are made a press notice is published informing the public that the orders have been made.  Again, members of the public can inspect copies of the finalised road orders and CPO and copies of the relevant orders will be issued to affected landowners.

After the road orders and CPO are made and this has been notified by press notice, any aggrieved party may challenge the orders in the Court of Session on the grounds that the orders are not within the powers of the relevant legislation or a statutory requirement has not been complied.

Once the statutory process is complete, ownership of the land in the CPO will be transferred to the Scottish Ministers.  This process is called vesting and is normally carried out by the Scottish Ministers executing a General Vesting Declaration (GVD). Title to the land described in the GVD will transfer to the Scottish Ministers on a date specified in the deed which will be at least 28 days from when the making of the GVD has been notified to  the landowners and tenants affected.


While Transport Scotland’s representatives will be able to advise landowners and tenants on the  compensation process in general terms, they will not be able to discuss entitlement or value.  The entitlement to compensation for land taken and other interests affected by the CPO, and the valuation of compensation, will be calculated independently by the Valuation Office Agency (commonly known as the “District Valuer”).

The level of compensation will be discussed with those affected and their agents if any are instructed.  If agreement cannot be reached there is provision for the case to be referred to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.

Twelve months after the opening of a new road, those who have not otherwise been compensated and who consider that their property has reduced in value by virtue of the operation of the road may be entitled to claim for compensation in that regard within the terms of Part 1 of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973.  Again, the valuation of any such compensation will be independently assessed by the Valuation Office Agency.