Marine Planning Process


Once completed and submitted along with the necessary plans, documents and fee your application will go through the eight steps described below.  The process varies for aquaculture developments (planning permission) and other types of marine developments (works licence).  Please see below for more information:

1.   Submission and Registration

Once an application is submitted it is given a unique reference number and registered on our system.  This number will then be used on all subsequent correspondence connected with the application and allows you to keep track of its progress through the Planning web site.

2.  Validation

After registration, the application is checked to ensure it is valid and can proceed to determination.  This is essentially a check on whether the application form has been completed correctly, the necessary plans and documents are present and the correct fee has been paid.  You will be told whether your application is valid or not.

If the application is invalid you will be informed at which point you can either:

Supply the correct/missing information or fee to enable validation
Withdraw the application

3.  Advertisement

All marine developments need to be advertised in the Shetland Times.  Depending on when you submit your application the advert will appear either that week or the week after.  

For works licence applications it is the applicant’s responsibility to arrange the advertisement of the application in the Shetland Times.   

4.  Consultation

Once validated your application will be placed on the Planning web site.  This and the advert in the Shetland Times is the start of the public consultation stage.  At the same time we will consult with a number of statutory bodies, such as Marine Scotland Science and NatureScot, for their specialist knowledge and input in regard to the development and/or its location.

5.  Determination

There are a number of steps in the determination process including assessing the application against the planning legislation, compliance with Council policy and weighing up the comments made in response to publication of the application.  The officer dealing with your application may make a site visit.

The time we have to make a determination is set by legislation.  

  • For planning permissions (aquaculture) the period is normally 8 weeks unless the development has needed environmental assessment in which case the period is extended to 16 weeks to reflect the increased complexity of this type of development.  Should there be a need for us to request further information from you, perhaps as a result of the consultation process, these periods will lengthen.
  • For works licenses (non-aquaculture developments) the allotted time period is 3 months.  

6.  Decision/Decision Notice

The decision on your application can be made either at officer level (under delegated powers) or by the Planning Committee if certain exemptions apply, such as the development having some Council interest.  For further information please view our Scheme of Delegation.

In either case a decision notice will be issued – this is the legal document granting or refusing planning permission or a works licence.

The decision notice contains information on:

  • The date of the decision
  • A description of what was applied for and where
  • The reasons for the decision.
  • A list of approved plans, documents and conditions if your application is approved.
  • You should note that any decision notice does not constitute an approval under any other legal permissions you may require for your development to proceed.

7.  Appeal/Re-submission

The process for appealing the decision of aquaculture developments (planning permission) and other types of marine developments (works licence) differs.  Please see below for more information:

  • If your planning application is refused or you are unhappy about any of the conditions attached to a grant of permission you can make an appeal.  The appeal would be to the Local Review Body if the decision was made at officer level or to Scottish Ministers if the Planning Committee made the decision.
  • If your works licence application is refused or you are unhappy about any of the conditions attached to the licence you can make an appeal to the Scottish Ministers within 28 days of notification of the decision.   

Before making an appeal you are advised to speak to the Marine Planning Team to discuss the process and your options. Please contact us at:

8.  Commencement

Once granted you must commence development within 3 years – failure to do so will result in the permission lapsing and you will have to start all over again.  

For aquaculture developments (planning permission) you are required to :

  • Inform us when you start your development and it must be undertaken in line with your permission and any plans, documents, etc attached to the permission.
  • On completion of the development, inform us that you are finished.  

The permission you receive has full details of when you need to undertake these actions.

Monitoring and Enforcement

The Council actively monitors all marine developments from initiation through to completion and beyond.  Where we find that the development is or has not complied with the permission granted or any permissions attached to it we will attempt to arrive at negotiated solution to rectify the problem.  Should this prove impossible we will be legally obliged to take enforcement action which, if not complied with, can lead to a fine and/or prosecution.