This paper assesses the efficacy and relevance of local landscape designations in Scotland as landscape management tools. Local landscape designations are a generic term applied to landscapes designated by local authorities for reasons of their rarity, representativeness or variety. Yet they remain neglected in planning research and policy evaluation and as designations sit uneasily with the rationale of the European Landscape Convention. Using interviews with planning officers, development plan policy analyses and spatial data a critical assessment of their operation is undertaken. The results reveal that, although national guidance favours their judicious and flexible use for positive land use planning, local authority implementation is characterised by inconsistent and protectionist stances. There is an inherent lack of strategic planning, management and public involvement in designation and practice which obfuscates their overall identity, integrity and purpose. This situation is exacerbated by the wider neglect of landscape matters in Scotland, with authorities lacking substantive tools and resources for evaluation and innovation when compared with economic and social imperatives. We conclude that local landscape designations are not meeting their full potential and argue for a more collaborative, management orientated, community-led focus on economic development, amenity and landscape enhancement set within wider rejuvenation of the landscape agenda.