Planning in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP stands out for its public sector expertise but also counts prominent private sector players among its clients. This broad client base is testimony to the team’s expertise in high-profile projects - including those in environmentally sensitive locations - in the residential, commercial, leisure, energy and infrastructure sphere. Besides planning applications, the team routinely guides clients through compulsory purchase procedures and environmental impact assessments and has significant expertise in the contentious space. Niall McLean, who made partner in May 2020, is a key contact for planning litigation, while Karen Hamilton is known for her compulsory purchase and compensation expertise. The practice is jointly led by Elaine Farquharson-Black, who advises on all aspects of planning law and has particular expertise in housebuilding, and Neil Collar, who covers the full range of contentious and non-contentious planning.

Practice head(s):

Neil Collar; Elaine Farquharson-Black

Other key lawyers:

Niall McLean; Karen Hamilton


Our experience is that the expertise of the Brodies team with regards to renewable energy projects and planning is exceptional. Their breadth and depth of knowledge makes them a ‘go-to’ law firm for our members and the number of our members who use their services is a testament to their excellent reputation.’

We regularly hear Neil Collar being described as the best solicitor in Scotland working on renewable energy projects. While his expertise and experience is exceptional, it is his calm, patient and generous manner that make him really stand out. His ability to explain highly complex planning matters to a non-specialist audience, and to provide clarity and insight into such matters, makes him one of our most valued advisers.’

Key clients


Springfield Properties plc

Countesswells Development Limited

Stewart Milne Group

Cognito Oak LLP


Scottish Government

Artisan Real Estate


Persimmon Homes

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes

Work highlights

  • Submission on behalf of Springfield Properties plc of four planning appeals seeking permission for a total of 821 dwellings.
  • Submission on behalf of Energiekontor UK Limited of planning appeals for three wind farms, totalling 136MW.
  • Assisted Aberdeen City Council with a compulsory purchase order for the Aberdeen city centre road improvements scheme.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn is particularly rated for its strength in the residential and energy sectors, leading to regular instructions from housebuilders, industry bodies and energy companies but the team also handles a number of high-profile retail and infrastructure projects. Its work spans strategic planning advice, assistance with planning applications, consenting and compulsory purchases alongside associated environmental impact and habitat regulations assessments. Colin Innes has recently been particularly active in the renewable energy space but also represents clients at hearings and public inquiries, which constitutes another key element of the team's workload. He co-heads the practice with Ewan Macleod, who has a specialism in residential development, retail and large mixed-use schemes.

Practice head(s):

Colin Innes; Ewan MacLeod

Other key lawyers:

Moray Thomson; Scott McCallum


‘Always at the cutting edge of changes within the Scottish planning system.’

‘Moray Thomson provides clear and unequivocal advice.’

‘Knowledgeable planning lawyers.’

‘Serious and professional, with a good wit.’

Key clients

Taylor Wimpey

ScottishPower Group of companies


The Miller Group

British Land

Aldi Stores

Persimmon Homes

Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd


Skene Group Construction Services

Work highlights

  • Advising Mactaggart and Mickel Homes and Graham’s the Family Dairy on a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s changes to Scottish planning policy.
  • Advising Airbnb on the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce a new regulatory regime for short-term letting in Scotland.
  • Advised ScottishPower Renewables on all consenting matters for its East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore wind farm projects.


CMS’ team is co-headed by Edinburgh-based energy and infrastructure expert Robin Hutchison and Glasgow-based development, regeneration and infrastructure specialist Mark McMurray, which accounts for the practice’s strength in these sectors. In the energy space, the team has recently been particularly active advising on wind farm projects, including on UK-wide developments. Advising public and private sector clients, the team handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious planning work, from planning applications and compulsory purchase orders to judicial reviews and court appeals. Its advisory spectrum also includes associated environmental law matters, which are frequently handled in cooperation with the firm’s environmental law practice, as well as aquaculture and mining-related matters. Senior associate Keith Campbell is noted for his broad expertise in large-scale commercial, energy and infrastructure projects and regularly acts for public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Robin Hutchison; Mark McMurray

Other key lawyers:

June Gilles; Keith Campbell


‘Robin Hutchison is the clear lead and most sought-after team member. He has leadership qualities, is a true expert and has sufficient intellectual firepower for his role in a multi-national firm. This isn’t always the case with otherwise able Scottish law firm partners who may flourish in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but who would sink in London.’

‘This is a strong planning team with complementary skills and ready access to a wider range of related skills including in-depth knowledge and experience of commercial conveyancing in Scotland. There is also strong in-house support from the litigation department, should this be required.’

‘I have worked on a number of cases with Robin Hutchison and Mark McMurray. Robin has considerable expertise in the environmental aspects of planning law and practice. He has become increasingly involved in litigation in this field. His knowledge, skills and thoroughness of preparation can enable him to achieve successful outcomes from litigation that others might fail to do. Mark is slightly more experienced in litigation and public inquiry work and has the ability to draw out the best from a multidisciplinary team which is often necessary in complex planning and related cases.’

‘We have worked with Robin Hutchison and Keith Campbell on a numbers of matters now and find their professionalism and expertise to be exemplary. Robin’s no-nonsense and methodical approach to things makes working with him easy and his advice easy to digest and implement.’

‘This practice has a stand-out depth of experience both in terms of technical planning law and in terms of the sectors it works, in particular with regard to renewables. They are a solution-focused, commercially astute team who put the needs of their clients at the heart of what they do and how they do it. ’

‘I worked with both Mark McMurray and Keith Campbell who I found both to be highly professional and knowledgeable. Due to the circumstances relating to Covid-19 we were only able to meet in person once; however, this did not negate the level of excellent service received from both Mark and Keith.’

I very much appreciated Mark McMurray’s transparent approach to working. Everything was well set out from the offset and Mark ensured we planned for every eventuality. This meant I was able to plan budgets and timescales effectively and demonstrate value when reporting internally within my organisation. Mark recognised the process was not one my team or myself had previously experienced and took time to engage with myself and colleagues from within my organisation on what we could expect which was appreciated.

I found Keith Campbell to be very knowledgeable and passionate about the work. I thought his attention to detail and level of preparation was outstanding. This really inspired full confidence in the quality of the output.

Key clients

Aberdeen Standard

Calton Hill Hotel LP

Community Windpower Limited

EDF Energy Renewables

Electricity Supply Board (ESB)

Hargreaves Land

Inch Cape Offshore Limited / Red Rock Power

Kincardine Offshore Wind Limited

North Lanarkshire Council

Pitgaveny Farm (private landowners)

Renfrewshire Council

SSE plc

Stirling Council

TH Real Estate / Nuveen

The Scottish Salmon Company

Trump International

Work highlights

  • Acting for Nuveen Real Estate on all planning, compulsory purchase and roads matters for the £1bn redevelopment of Edinburgh St James.
  • Advising SSE and Equinor on the Dogger Bank A & B Offshore Wind Farm.
  • Advising the Scottish Salmon Company on planning and environmental matters arising from its portfolio of salmon farms across Scotland.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser is best known for its contentious planning expertise coupled with its extensive public sector client base, but the team also acts for developers, landowners and investors. Based on this focus, practice head Douglas Milne is routinely called upon to assist with the resolution of contentious applications, including public inquiries, and with contentious planning matters at the intersection with property and environmental law; associate Ursula Currie is another key contact in this space. Typical contentious instructions pertain to commercial and residential developments alongside infrastructure and energy projects, while a significant share of its recent non-contentious planning applications concerned residential, mixed-use and office developments.

Practice head(s):

Douglas Milne

Other key lawyers:

Kenneth Carruthers; Ursula Currie


‘Morton Fraser is one of the top Scottish firms for planning advice for developers and local planning authorities. They have significant experience both in giving advice in relation to planning issues and running court cases or inquiries in relation to contentious planning disputes.’

‘Kenneth Carruthers has vast experience in relation to all planning matters.’

‘Ursula Currie is rapidly becoming the solicitor of choice for many developers and planning authorities in relation to planning matters. She is knowledgeable, efficient and a delight to work with.’

‘Douglas Milne has been the partner level contact and has been excellent at managing the process. That includes dealing with or expectations as well as all the legal and political machinations.’

‘Ursula Currie has been excellent and gone the extra mile.’

Key clients

Wildland Limited

Transport Scotland/Scottish Ministers

National Grid Gas plc

New Ingliston Limited

Tesco Stores Limited



Parabola Property Limited

Persimmon Homes Limited

City of Edinburgh Council

Work highlights

  • Reappointed in 2020 for the second time to provide representation to Transport Scotland at public local inquiries for nationally important road infrastructure projects, including the £3bn programme for dualling the A9 trunk road from Perth to Inverness.
  • Advising City of Edinburgh Council on a major residential-led development at East of Millburn Tower, Edinburgh, the so-called Garden District. Advice has covered planning, compulsory purchase, property, governance and local government law.

Pinsent Masons LLP

As an integral part of the firm’s wider planning team, Pinsent Masons LLP’s Scotland practice routinely handles UK-wide instructions, most notably in the infrastructure and energy sectors with particular focus on offshore and onshore wind projects, but the team has recently also increased its footprint in the residential development space, with work routinely led by Gary McGovern. McGovern and practice head Jennifer Ballantyne are key contacts for energy and large-scale infrastructure projects. Ballantyne is best known for her renewable energy sector consenting expertise at the interface with environmental law. Clients include energy sector developers, housebuilders and landowners, who also receive assistance with contentious matters such as planning appeals and inquiries.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Ballantyne

Other key lawyers:

Gary McGovern; Gordon McCreath; Jacqueline Harris


‘A very approachable practice with key staff who are clearly subject matter experts. Very thorough and knowledgeable and also flexible with how they interact with other consultants – always happy to have an informal discussion as a first call.’

‘Pinsent Masons is thoroughly professional and among the acknowledged leaders in their field.’

‘I have worked with Gary McGovern on a number of planning appeals and his friendly demeanour, approachable nature, attention to detail and general legal experience sets him apart from many of his peers. Gary is very easy to work with, is very thorough in his input and has an ability to see the bigger picture.’

‘Pinsent Masons has a breadth and depth that makes them completely dependable as legal advisers, capable of advising across a range of issues and with a number of leading specialists on hand to provide advice.’

‘I have worked most closely with Gordon McCreath, whose approach to providing advice is exceptionally thorough and comprehensive. He is very responsive to even the most last-minute of requests and you get the sense he is really prioritising us as clients. He is very proactive in identifying areas of potential concern or opportunity, not passively responding to specific instructions or questions. He has a real skill in unpacking the questions he is asked, to get to the real heart of the matter.’

‘Gary McGovern and his planning team are always a pleasure to work with. Their work is thoroughly prepared with the important issues clearly identified and addressed. They have a comprehensive knowledge of the law and policy in the planning and environmental field and come up with good new ideas. They have a relaxed and confident manner and are always available and willing to provide any assistance necessary.’

‘The team has extensive knowledge of the planning sector, having worked on a number of offshore projects. They are always willing to collaborate with any of the internal teams, and where required other external supports.’

‘The team is very helpful and keen to help find ways to get developments moving in the right direction. They will look for bespoke legal solutions to challenging issues.’

Key clients

Scottish Renewables

RWE Renewables UK Developments Ltd

Seagreen Wind Energy Limited

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Barratt Homes / David Wilson Homes

CALA Group

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (JV of SSE, SDIC and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners)


The Pilkington Trust

Robertson Homes Limited


Winchburgh Developments Limited

UK Space Agency

Forth Ports

Environment Agency

Anglian Water

Thames Water

Affinity Water

Highways England

North Falls Limited

Lovell Homes

Work highlights

  • Advising Cala Homes, Bellway Homes and Barratt on their planning application for the 603-unit Thornly Park Village, within the grounds of the Dykebar Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire.
  • Advising RWE Renewables UK Developments Ltd on all consenting aspects (including appeals and inquiries) for a number of major Scottish onshore wind farms.
  • Advised Highways England on all aspects of its successful application for development consent (DCO) for the £1.9bn A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme.

Addleshaw Goddard

Addleshaw Goddard acts for public and private sector clients, who require assistance with planning and associated environmental matters arising from energy, retail, residential, leisure and infrastructure projects. Its scope spans both contentious and non-contentious issues with regular instructions involving planning agreements and applications alongside planning objections and enforcement actions. Its energy sector expertise also includes novel technologies such battery storage and hydrogen. Sarah Baillie heads the team and acts across a wide range of sectors.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Baillie


‘Sarah Baillie is widely experienced in planning law and practice and in related areas such as compulsory purchase. She works effectively and efficiently in a team to produce the desired outcome. This is done in a relaxed manner which inspires client confidence.’

‘Friendly and approachable team with a sense of humour. Focused when required and organised. Patient and a collaborative approach to dealing with complicated issues. Helpful having a partner who is professionally qualified as a planner as well as a lawyer. ’

‘Sarah Baillie provides great leadership and challenges views when necessary.’

‘A great team and I trust their advice.’

Key clients

SSE plc

Aldi Stores Limited

Scotland Gas Networks plc

Alcemi Developments UK Group of Companies

Clackmannanshire Council

Murray Group

Robertson Property

Highland and Islands Airports


Strawsons Holdings

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL)

Frank Smart & Sons

Scottish Enterprise (SE)

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE)

South of Scotland Enterprise

StayCity Apartments

Dalmunzie Estate

Work highlights

  • Advising SGN plc on energy consenting matters, CPOs and DCOs across the UK.
  • Providing Aldi Stores Limited with full-service advice on all contentious and non-contentious planning matters, including drafting planning agreements, challenging a number of statutory notices, successful inquiries and appeals to the Scottish Ministers.
  • Advising Strawson Holdings on the investment, development and promotion of a number of major sites across Scotland.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern has carved out a solid practice advising local governments, developers, public bodies and utility providers on the full range of contentious and non-contentious planning matters. Recently, the team led by Alastair McKie - whose expertise is equally broad and who is regularly called upon by clients to act in inquiries and hearings - has handled planning applications and agreements, planning appeal proceedings and environmental impact assessments pertaining to infrastructure, transport, housing and energy projects. Its capabilities also extend to other sectors such as mixed-use and leisure developments.

Practice head(s):

Alastair McKie

Other key lawyers:

Audrey Cameron; Fiona Stephen


‘Breadth of knowledge of property matters and seamless interaction with other disciplines within the firm as and when necessary – a real team approach.’

‘Alastair McKie. Good strategic thinking. Very strong planning knowledge. Great attention to detail.’

‘Great awareness of public sector needs. Strong technical legal knowledge. Good value for money. No billing surprises.

‘Alastair McKie has great technical legal knowledge. He is our client care partner, as well as planning specialist. He is always available for a quick question and has engaged brilliantly with our staff. He has been great at advising on the high-profile work and also supporting smaller matters too. Regular contract management catch-ups have been helpful and he always acts on feedback.

‘Alastair McKie and the team have been proactive and responsive in the service they have provided on planning matters.’

‘Low turnover of staff means that there is considerable continuity, and even when there is a permanent or temporary change, their communication systems are extremely efficient. In these transitory times, this counts for a great deal.’

‘Very high level of competence and common sense.’

‘Fiona Stephen is very good with clients.’

Key clients

Victoria Square Woking Limited

Buccleuch Estates

Livos Energy

The City of Edinburgh Council


Ross Estates Company

Edinburgh Airport Limited

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

Pow of Inchaffray Commissioners

Chemring Energetics UK Ltd

Dundas Estates


Shetland Space Centre Ltd

East Lothian Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Shetland Space Centre Ltd (SSC) on its vertical launch space port, including environmental impact assessments and supporting documents.
  • Advising Edinburgh Airport Limited (EAL) in opposition to a national development for the International Business Gateway (IBG) on transportation grounds.
  • Principal provider of advice on planning law and related matters to the National Park Authority (NPA).

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP's practice has housing and mixed-use development work at its core, which is reflected in its client base consisting of many housebuilders and landowners; the team is also adept at handling energy projects. Typical instructions include Section 75 agreements, planning applications and subsequent appeal proceedings alongside appeals to remove development contributions. Craig Whelton heads the team and, as well as advising on major development schemes across Scotland, also represents clients at planning appeal hearings and inquiries.

Practice head(s):

Craig Whelton

Other key lawyers:

Lynsey Reid


‘A strong UK regional planning team with good gender balance.’

‘Craig Whelton is one of most pre-eminent planning lawyers in Scotland, who is involved in a host of planning legal cases and judicial reviews, that have shaped Scottish planning policy in recent years. Craig has a great grasp of planning policy and is active in many of the most prominent appeals in Scotland.

‘Craig Whelton is approachable and knowledgeable – taking the time out to discuss matters with clients and peers alike.’

‘Craig Whelton is a highly capable practitioner in the field of planning law with an extensive experience and leading expertise in the field of planning for housing and the development plan process. He is commercial, accessible and provides incisive advice.

‘Lynsey Reid is a very competent associate with considerable expertise and knowledge.’

‘Craig Whelton leads a very good team in Scotland; the firm has a significant UK-wide reputation.’

‘Craig Whelton is on top of his game when dealing with planning at all levels. Both good at the detail and the bigger picture. Very keen brain for both legal issues and practical planning matters. Very good with clients too.’

Key clients

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Limited

Gladman Developments Limited

Wallace Land Investment and Management Limited

Stewart Milne Group Limited

West Craigs Limited (part of Lloyds Banking Group)

Octopus Investments Limited and Renewable Energy Income Partnership III

S Developments Limited

Robertson Homes Limited

Forsa Energy 2 Holdings Limited

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Ashfield Land Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Gladman on its successful judicial review against refusal of its planning appeal in Inverclyde.
  • Advising Wallace Land Investment and Management Limited on applications to reduce developer contributions.
  • Represented the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as planning inquiry advocates into two planning applications for a traveller’s site development in Aberdeenshire.

Burness Paull LLP

With Alasdair Sutherland, former planning advocate at the Scottish Bar, heading up the team at Burness Paull LLP, it is well placed to handle contentious planning matters, particularly judicial review and statutory appeals, but it is also experienced in the non-contentious space, advising on planning applications, Section 75 agreements and compulsory purchase orders. Much of its works stems from the housebuilding sector with many developers among its clients but the practice has also been active in the energy sector, handling renewable energy projects in particular.

Practice head(s):

Alasdair Sutherland


‘Experienced and knowledgeable. Available when required and undertake work we need in tight timescales.’

‘Alasdair Sutherland is a very experienced legal planning professional which always makes things smoother for clients when trying to navigate through the planning system. His ability to be clear and concise in all advice is both helpful and beneficial to our company.’

‘Experienced team with friendly but commercial approach.’

‘Alasdair Sutherland is exceptional. Very savvy and very quick on legal points and analysis.’

‘Clear advice, prompt and approachable.’

‘The Burness team is very proactive and independent. I feel confident in giving them instructions and knowing that they will get on with work without me having to chase them every day. No matter what the deadline, they always get the job done.’

‘Alistair Sutherland has great technical knowledge and an ability to translate that into pragmatic arguments. Planning is a very scientific and policy-led area and I feel confident that Alistair understands and can work with the specialist reports and information required for many planning matters.’

‘The planning team is excellent in terms of legal planning knowledge, tactical advice and project management. I have worked with them on two very different projects this year and they have been very good in both. One project had a large amount of data that required to be shared around the team. They managed that well, and provided helpful prompts when deadlines for responses were coming up. That is helpful when team members have multiple calls on their time and attention.’

Key clients

Taylor Wimpey

Barratt Homes

Cruden Homes

Guild Homes

Scotia Homes


Malthus Uniteam (Algeco)

ScottishPower Renewables

Brockwell Energy


Work highlights

  • Advised Taylor Wimpey on a new housing development at Pinkie Mains, Musselburgh including on the legal validity of a planning condition requiring the client to construct an off-site link path on someone else’s land.
  • Advised Barratt Homes on its planning application for a 99-unit housing development on a greenfield site in Clydebank and in the subsequent appeal to the Scottish Ministers against the planning authority’s deemed refusal of the application.
  • Acted for housebuilder clients Cruden Homes (East) Limited in appeal to the Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission for a housing development in Murieston, Livingston.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper handles both contentious and non-contentious planning matters associated with, among others, energy, housing, hotel and leisure, retail and student accommodation projects for public and private sector clients. Regular instructions include planning consenting requirements, planning applications and agreements alongside compulsory purchase orders and often contain real estate and transactional aspects as well as multi-jurisdictional elements. Consultant Sandy Telfer has niche expertise in onshore exploration and production drilling-related planning matters, including issues surrounding the exploitation of geothermal power.

Practice head(s):

Sandy Telfer

Other key lawyers:

Michael Greig


‘Good experience in team demonstrating sound planning expertise and judgement balanced against extensive commercial expertise.’

‘Sandy Telfer has very sound planning and commercial expertise and a very good approach which ensures positive outcomes.’

‘My experience of most law firms is that their lawyers will tell you what the law says, but will rarely tell you what the law means and what strategy to adopt. DLA Piper is commercially focused and knows how to make the law work for their clients.’

‘Obtaining consent for projects can be a minefield of political pressure and legal risk. The DLA Piper planning team’s focus is always on helping their clients to successfully negotiate that minefield efficiently and effectively. Preparation is essential to achieving this and making sure that applications are robust before they are submitted is critical. Getting the application right maximises the possibility of securing consent quickly, and minimizes the risk of a successful legal challenge. That is what DLA does.

They work closely with their internal and external teams from the outset of a project to ensure that the application and supporting documentation is able to withstand the scrutiny of decision-makers, objectors and the courts. This upfront investment of their time leads to quicker determinations and fewer legal challenges. A great team!

‘Michael Greig is responsive, pragmatic, extremely knowledgeable and hard-working. Cuts to the quick of issues and is incisive. Commercially aware and astute.’

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

Best known for its renewables planning practice, Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP is a regular advisor on Section 36 inquiries and planning appeals arising from onshore wind projects and is well versed in advising clients, including major utilities and independent developers, on various niche topics such as the noise budget allocation to wind farm developments. Other work includes planning applications and agreements associated with residential and commercial developments. Team head Fraser Gillies has a superb reputation for onshore wind planning.

Practice head(s):

Fraser Gillies

Other key lawyers:

Paul Adams


‘Fraser Gillies and his team are extremely strong on all aspects of planning law and practice and have guided us through many appeals processes. They are extremely client-focused and a great team to work with. Technically brilliant too.’

Key clients

Renewable Energy Systems Limited

RWE Renewables UK Swindon Limited

Muirhall Energy Limited

Vento Ludens Limited

Coriolis Energy Limited

Fred. Olsen Renewables Limited

Brookfield Renewables UK Ltd

SIMEC Wind One Limited

BayWa r.e UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Coriolis Energy Limited in relation to S.36 Electricity Act 1989 application for the proposed Blarghour Wind Farm.
  • Advised Coriolis Energy Limited in relation to a recent successful appeal of a S.42 application for the proposed Kirk Hill Wind Farm to increase the blade tip height of the turbines from 110m to 115.5m.
  • Advised Fred.Olsen Renewables Limited in relation to S.36 Electricity Act 1989 application for the proposed Crystal Rig IV Wind Farm.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Davidson Chalmers Stewart has a focus on renewable energy on one hand, and on mixed-use and residential developments on the other, which attracts an array of clients including developers, energy companies and landowners. Much of its work includes matters at various interfaces, most notably environmental, but also property, construction and agriculture. In the contentious space, the team benefits from the firm’s strong litigation practice leading to regular involvement in judicial reviews and planning objections. Jacqueline Cook heads up the team and handles all aspects of contentious and non-contentious planning law.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Cook

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Court


‘They are highly professional, approachable and flexible.’

‘Jackie Cook is a highly skilled lawyer with exceptional knowledge of planning and environmental law.’

‘We engaged Davidson Chalmers Stewart to assist with a specific process which we had no previous knowledge or experience of. From the initial introductory meeting, it became clear that they were willing to allocate the necessary resource with the relevant expertise to take our case forward. As a lay client, the most important element was understanding the legal process so we could give informed instructions – they ensured that at all stages this was the case. Our process began in early 2020, and continued through the Covid pandemic with no obvious disruption. As a team they expressed a genuine interest and understanding of our issues, and demonstrated a determination to utilize the full extent of their capabilities to achieve our objective.’

‘The team allowed us to feel at ease in an unfamiliar environment – all were personable, approachable and willing to listen to our opinions. Jacqueline Cook took over for our second stage process where it became clear that her planning law experience would become invaluable to our chances of success, all the time maintaining strong communication lines throughout.’

‘Approachable and friendly.’

‘Jacqueline Cook is involved and engaged.’

Key clients

Peel Energy

Tartan Leisure Ltd

Chris Stewart Group

Ogilvie Homes Ltd

UK Rubber Ltd

Story Homes Ltd

J W Muir Group PLC (incl. Muir Homes Ltd, Hermiston Securities Ltd)

Strawson Property

RT Overseas Settlement

M & J Ballantyne

Work highlights

  • Advised Ogilvie Homes Limited on its successful appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session against The Scottish Ministers’ repeated refusal of its housing proposals.
  • Advising Tartan Leisure Limited on the consenting strategy and applications, EIA and planning obligations for its Wavegarden project, a leisure scheme that will deliver Scotland’s first artificial, inland surfing lagoon.
  • Advising Peel’s Energy division on all its renewable energy projects in Scotland, including assistance on EIA and planning consenting strategy issues.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP puts significant emphasis on energy sector work, advising energy providers on planning applications, compulsory purchase orders, compliance issues and contentious matters associated with renewable energy projects in particular, but also handles housebuilding work. Other clients include landowners and developers. Team head Colin Hamilton complements this offering with expertise in environmental law and litigation.

Practice head(s):

Colin Hamilton

Other key lawyers:

Isobell Reid


‘Very good planning team with all-round experience. They provide first-class work and give good practical advice.’

‘Colin Hamilton has great expertise in both compulsory purchase and planning and the inter-relationship between the two. Well known for his wind farm work.’

Key clients


Viking Energy Wind Farm


Work highlights

  • Advising Viking Energy on all aspects of the client’s 450MW windfarm development including securing the consent of the Scottish Land Court to the Scheme for Development to facilitate development on an extensive area of croft land following a Land Court hearing in Shetland.
  • Acting for Seagreen Wind Energy Limited in promoting a compulsory purchase order to build a 19km high voltage cable route.

Harper Macleod LLP

The team at Harper Macleod LLP is co-led by Peter Ferguson, the main contact for non-contentious work, and key contact for planning-related litigation Jennifer Jack. Its contentious work often pertains to controversial developments and planning inquiries, which is not least due to the team’s large public sector client base. While much of its work is contentious in nature, the team also provides assistance with compulsory purchase orders and planning permissions and regularly acts at the interface with environmental law. Recent work includes residential, infrastructure, leisure and energy projects; expertise in the last-mentioned sector also attracts developer clients.

Practice head(s):

Peter Ferguson; Jennifer Jack


‘We needed legal advice for a particularly difficult and unique problem. We had previously engaged other mainstream legal practices and were disappointed by their lack of willingness to fully embrace and understand the nature of the problem we had. Harper Macleod, however, provided us with a totally different approach. Whilst part of the problem was a constrained timeframe for our response, Harper Macleod took time to fully understand and research our brief which I believe set them apart from other firms who were quick to follow an inappropriate methodology.’

‘Jennifer Jack was our principal contact and from the first phone call to her, she stood out as highly knowledgeable in her field. The quality and accelerated nature of her initial response immediately assured me that I was engaging a firm and individual who was willing to go the extra mile and it gave me great comfort that it appeared Jennifer would be the knowledgeable solicitor we needed.

‘The team is very responsive and on top of matters.’

‘Jennifer Jack handled a threat of a judicial review very efficiently and managed to have the matter settled before extensive court costs were incurred.’

‘Peter Ferguson is very good. Calm, efficient, considered and intelligent.’

‘Jennifer Jack has unrivalled knowledge and expertise in public law, planning and environment. Easy to deal with and practical in her approach. She also has excellent involvement in ongoing legal education with her commitment to the Public Law Group over many years.’

Key clients

NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage)

Environmental Standards Scotland

Cairngorms National Park Authority

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Moray Council

The Highland Council

City of Edinburgh Council

The Scottish Government (Marine Scotland)

Glasgow City Council

Scottish Forestry (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland)

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Fred Olsen Renewables


Aberdeen Standard Investments

Hillhouse Quarry Group

St Andrews University

MCR Property Group

Lairg Wind Farm Limited

Octopus Energy


Maple Power Limited

Metka EGN Ltd

Statkraft UK

Scotia Homes

Work highlights

  • Represented NatureScot at Scotland’s first fully virtual public local inquiry concerning a proposed windfarm development which NatureScot objected to on the basis of significant adverse impacts on nationally important sensitive habitats.
  • Representing Greenpeace UK in a legal challenge to the UK Government’s grant of consent which allows BP and Ithaca Energy to produce oil and gas from the Vorlich field in the North Sea.
  • Advising Glasgow City Council regarding proposed Traffic Regulation Orders regulating match day parking on the streets around Ibrox, Celtic Park and Emirates Arena stadiums.