The browser you are using is out of date and is no longer supported. To view and use this site correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.

Historic Scotland’s approach to compliance

Historic Scotland will seek, wherever possible, to engage, encourage and inform those who are subject to the Act, in order to secure compliance. Where breaches of the law arise, enforcement action will be undertaken in a proportionate manner.

In pursuing compliance with the Act, Historic Scotland may use a variety of approaches which include:

  • Discussion – this may take place as part of seeking scheduled monument consent, as part of routine on-going compliance checks, site visits, and investigation of reports of unauthorised works or according to other needs or circumstances;
  • Ensuring compliance through the granting of scheduled monument consent (this includes granting, refusing, reviewing, varying, suspending or revoking consents);
  • Advisory/ Warning letters – these are used where unauthorised works have taken place, but no damage has occurred to the monument, or where conditions of consent have been breached without damage to the monument.  The nature of the breach will be clearly explained in writing, and advice on how to avoid future breaches given.  Where action is required to prevent a breach of legislation, or comply with consent conditions, a timeline will always be included to show when compliance should be achieved.
  • Notices - a formal notice requiring compliance and amelioration (enforcement notice, stop notice or temporary stop notice) may be served by Historic Scotland.

Enforcement notices - A scheduled monument enforcement notice allows for the reversal or amelioration of unauthorised works to a scheduled monument, or works in breach of any condition attached to scheduled monument consent. The enforcement notice cannot take effect until at least 28 days after it has been served. There is no time limit for taking scheduled monument enforcement action.  

Stop notices - A stop notice can only be issued alongside an enforcement notice and will come into effect not less than three and not more than 28 days after it was issued unless Historic Scotland considers that there are special reasons to justify it taking effect immediately.

Temporary stop notices - A temporary stop notice can be issued to effect an immediate halt to unauthorised works. Unlike a stop notice, it does not require the issue of an enforcement notice.  It can only be in force for a maximum of 28 days to enable the most appropriate enforcement action to be considered and undertaken during this time.

  • Direct Action -  Where a person does not fully comply with an enforcement notice, Historic Scotland can enter the land and carry out any unfulfilled requirements of an enforcement notice.  Where direct action is taken, Historic Scotland will seek to recover costs associated with such works.
  • Reporting breaches of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 to Procurators Fiscal, recommending prosecution.
  • Seeking an interdict – In cases where Historic Scotland suspects unauthorised works are likely to take place in the future, a court order prohibiting such works may be sought.
  • Retrospective scheduled monument consent - Where works have been carried out without consent, it may occasionally be appropriate and in the best interests of the scheduled monument to retain certain unauthorised works, for example, where the reversal of an intervention would be likely to lead to further damage to the monument. In these cases an application for retrospective scheduled monument consent can be considered.

All enforcement action undertaken by Historic Scotland will be fair and reasonable. Enforcement action will be recorded by Historic Scotland and placed on our on-line enforcement register. Certain information may also be made available under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Related Links

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011

Related Documents

PDF icon Managing Change in the Historic Environment: Works on scheduled monuments [PDF, 767kb]

Contact us

Heritage Management Directorate
Historic Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8716