What can I do about plans for a development that could harm the environment?

All planning applications have to be approved by the local council. If the proposal is likely to have a significant impact on the environment the developer will be asked to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA). Waste disposal sites may be asked to do this depending on where they are and how big they are.  

An EIA will be required if the development is going to produce toxic waste.

Your rights

Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) warns of the risks of environmental pollution, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has highlighted the damaging effects of environmental pollution and its impact on children’s rights, mentioning contamination of water supplies, sea pollution and air pollution.

Pollution is also mentioned as an obstacle to the child’s right to play in a safe environment in Article 31 of the UNCRC.

Article 12 – which is about children voices being heard in decisions that affect them – means that children and young people have the right to participate in decision-making processes. This includes planning consultations.

Local authorities should always make sure they are taking children and young people’s best interests into account when they make decisions that will affect them.

What you can do

Members of the public of all ages can write to the council to object to planning proposals. Concerns raised about the negative impact on the environment will be discussed by the Council’s planning committee at a meeting— and you can attend this and speak at it.

You can also write to your Councillor, your MP and your MSP. You could start a campaign or petition.

If planning permission has already been granted, sometimes a local authority can consider making a Revocation Order— effectively meaning that planning permission is taken away. But this has to be confirmed by Ministers in the Scottish Parliament, so orders like this aren’t issued very often.

You will find information about the plans and process for objections on your local council’s website. Planning Aid for Scotland also offers free advice and Citizens Advice can help, too.


If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact us:

  • using the form at the bottom of our website
  • texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
  • calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.

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