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Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters

Map of Plan areaThe Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters supports a diverse marine economy and a vast majority of the area is used for multiple activities. This means there is a potential for competition and conflict. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters was chosen to pilot the development of a marine spatial plan to support sustainable management of the area’s seas. It aims to balance the needs of local communities and marine economic activities whilst protecting the environment on which they depend. The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan is being developed by a working group that includes Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and Highland Council.

This pilot Plan aims to put in place a planning policy framework in advance of statutory regional marine planning to support sustainable decision making on marine use and management. Through the process of producing the pilot Plan, there have been many lessons learned, which will be published shortly, to inform the preparation of future regional marine plans and the governance arrangements that could underpin Marine Planning Partnerships. It is also anticipated that the pilot Plan will establish a useful basis for the preparation of the two future regional marine plans for Orkney and the North Coast Scottish Marine Regions.


  • The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan has been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Planning Excellence in the Excellence in Plan Making Practice category. The Royal Town Planning Institute’s Awards are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry. Running for 40 years, they celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society. The winners will be announced during a ceremony held in London on 15 June 2017 and we will let you know the outcome!

  • The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan has won an award in the Partnership category at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. Kevin Stewart, the minister for Local Government and Housing presented the team with the award at the ceremony on 8 November 2016 (Watch the nomination video).


Stage 1: Spatial Planning Framework


Information about the Marine Spatial Plan Framework

Stage 2: Research Studies


Information about research studies to support the marine spatial plan

Stage 3: Planning Process and Documents

Marine Spatial Planning

Information about steps taken to prepare the marine spatial plan