A working group consisting of Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and Highland Council have developed this pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. The Plan sets out an integrated planning policy framework to guide marine development, activities and management decisions, whilst ensuring the quality of the marine environment is protected. The marine environment is used for a wide variety of different purposes and this Plan aims to set out a coherent strategic vision, objectives and policies to further the achievement of sustainable development. This will include the protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the marine environment within the Plan area. As a non-statutory Plan, it will complement and support existing ambitions and responsibilities rather than replace them.
The working group have undertaken this pilot to put in place a planning policy framework in advance of statutory regional marine planning. It is anticipated that this Marine Spatial Plan will establish a useful basis for the preparation of the two separate regional marine plans for Orkney and the North Coast Scottish Marine Regions. Through the process of producing this pilot Marine Spatial Plan for Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, there have been many lessons learned. These will be published separately and will inform the preparation of future regional marine plans and the governance arrangements that could underpin Marine Planning Partnerships.
The final pilot Plan will be used by the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) as a material consideration in the determination of marine licensing and section 36 consent applications within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council will be provided with the option to adopt the final pilot Plan as non-statutory planning guidance, acknowledging the status of the Plan as a material consideration in the determination of relevant planning applications. Orkney Islands Council will also be provided with the option to approve the Final Plan as a material consideration in the determination of works licence applications.